An African American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Virgil Tibbs: They call me MISTER Tibbs!
Chief Gillespie: I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead.
Gillespie: How much they pay you to do their police work?
Tibbs: A hundred and sixty-two dollars, and thirty-nine cents per week.
Gillespie: A hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week? Well boy! Sam, you take him outside but treat him nice, because a man that makes a hundred and sixty-two dollars and thirty-nine cents a week, we do not want to ruffle him!
[upon the suggestion that he may have murdered Colbert, Endicott slaps Tibbs across the face. Tibbs promptly slaps him back. Endicott is positively shocked]
Eric Endicott: Gillespie?
Chief Gillespie: Yeah.
Eric Endicott: You saw it.
Chief Gillespie: I saw it.
Eric Endicott: Well, what are you gonna do about it?
Chief Gillespie: I don't know.
Eric Endicott: I'll remember that.
[to Tibbs]
Eric Endicott: There was a time when I could've had you shot.
Mrs. Leslie Colbert: I came by to make it as clear as I possibly can: that I do not want the Negro officer taken off this case.
Mayor Webb Schubert: Negro officer?
Chief Gillespie: Yeah, well he, uh... he comes from up North, you see, and he was, uh, kinda... passing through...
Mrs. Leslie Colbert: I don't care what he is. If it wasn't for him, your impartial chief of police would still have the wrong man behind bars. I want that officer given a free hand, otherwise I will pack up my husband's engineers... and leave you... to yourselves.
Gillespie: [on telephone to Tibbs' chief] I do want to thank you for offering such a powerful piece of manpower as Virgil Tibbs.
Chief Gillespie: Just once in my life, I'm gonna own my temper. I'm telling you that you're gonna stay here. You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No, because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame. You wanna know something, Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by.
Chief Gillespie: Mr. Tibbs! Well Mr. Woods take Mr. Tibbs! Take him down to the depot and I mean boy like now!
Tibbs: Now listen, hear me good mama. Please. Don't make me have to send you to jail... There's white time in jail and there's colored time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is colored time.
[last lines]
Chief Gillespie: You take care, y'hear?
Virgil Tibbs: Yeah.
Ofcr. Sam Wood: [to Virgil] Take me ten minutes to get a king size Coke and a wedge of pie. That is if that peckerwood ain't sold out yet.
[describing Chief Gillespie]
Harvey Oberst: Got no more smile than a turnip.
Gillespie: You look at bodies all the time in Philadelphia. Why can't you look at this one?
Tibbs: Why can't you look at it for yourself?
Gillespie: Because I'm not an expert. OFFICER!
Mayor Webb Schubert: Bill... what's made you change your mind about Tibbs?
Gillespie: Who says I have?
Mayor Webb Schubert: [referring to Tibbs slapping Endicott] Last Chief we had... he'd have shot Tibbs one second after he slapped Endicott, claim self-defense.
[first lines]
Ofcr. Sam Wood: Where you keeping the pie tonight?
Ralph Henshaw, diner counterman: I ate the last piece just before you came in.
[after Chief Gillespie convinced Virgil Tibbs to stay in town and finish the investigation, they both go to a mechanic's place to get Tibbs a car]
Chief Gillespie: Jess.
[Jess, a black mechanic, appears from under the car he is working on]
Chief Gillespie: Jess, this is, uh... This is Virgil. He's working for me. Give him something that runs. You fix him up, you hear.
Jess: What I fix runs. Who pays.
Chief Gillespie: Police.
[to Tibbs: ]
Chief Gillespie: Well, you know where to find me.
[after Gillespie has left, Jess looks Virgil and his suit up and down]
Jess: What you doin' here, man.
Virgil Tibbs: Policeman.
Jess: You're a policeman here in Sparta.
Virgil Tibbs: They've got a murder they don't know what to do with. They need a whipping boy.
Jess: You got a roof.
Virgil Tibbs: No. I'll find a Motel.
[Jess chuckles and picks up Virgil's suitcase]
Jess: Viola... We got company.
Gillespie: Whatcha hit him with?
Tibbs: Hit whom?
Gillespie: "Whom"? "Whom"? Well, you a northern boy? What's a northern boy like you doing all the way down here?
Chief Gillespie: [regarding Sam Wood's status as a suspect] We have the motive which is money, and the body which is dead!
Tibbs: Sam didn't kill Colbert!
Chief Gillespie: What makes you so sure?
Tibbs: Because Colbert was killed HERE, driven back to town in his own car and dumped on the street. Sam couldn't have driven two cars!
Tibbs: You're making a big mistake.
Chief Gillespie: Don't you bet against it.

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