Sidney Poitier is back for third time around as Virgil Tibbs, the San Francisco homicide lieutenant, faced this time with combatting a worldwide dope syndicate.
The screenplay, generally highly polished, is a bit hazy occasionally in development, and Don Medford establishes a fast tempo in his lively direction. Pic’s opening is a gem as stage is set for consequent action, skillfully enacted and drivingly constructed.
It’s a heist of a furniture factory – front for crime ring – and seizure of $5 million in heroin by a group of young people taking law into their own hands to try to halt the drug sale that has been ruining the lives of relatives and friends. Tibbs is assigned case when the murdered body of the factory manager is found.
Poitier is confronted by a serious problem in police ethics as group calls him in, admitting robbery but denying the murder. Group asks his assistance, leaving them free to operate while they try their own methods.