In the Heat of the Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Very few concerns cropped up during this positive presentation.
Across the board, sharpness looked good. Only a minimal amount of softness ever interfered, as almost all the shots seemed crisp and concise. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement was essentially absent. In addition, source flaws proved modest. The occasional speck manifested itself, but those instances remained infrequent. For the most part, this was a clean transfer.
While Heat didn’t go with a dynamic palette, it rendered its colors well. Much of the movie exhibited a subdued, somewhat yellow tint, but the hues looked clear and reasonably full within those restrictions. Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows showed good clarity and delineation. Overall I thought this was a very satisfying transfer.
In addition to the film’s original monaural soundtrack, Heat brought us a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Its designers managed to stay fairly true to the source, as they opened up matters in a modest but pleasing way. Music showed decent stereo imaging, and various effects broadened to the sides. Those demonstrated good movement and meshed together well.
Occasional use of the surrounds occurred as well, such as when vehicles would pan from front to rear. Nothing here dazzled, as even the showier scenes – like one in a factory – remained subdued. And that was fine with me, since a chatty movie like this didn’t need anything more than general atmosphere most of the time.
Audio quality seemed positive. Speech occasionally suffered from a little edginess, but the lines always stayed intelligible, and they usually were acceptably natural. Music lacked great range – especially in terms of highs – but the songs and score demonstrated decent bass and seemed concise enough. Effects played a small role and came across as fairly accurate. I thought the 5.1 mix worked just fine.
How did the picture and sound of this “40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” compare to those of the prior DVD? Both demonstrated improvements. The new transfer looked cleaner and tighter than the old one, and the audio showed similar improvements as well. Both areas demonstrated real growth, so the 2008 DVD was a definite upgrade.
The CE includes most of the old package’s extras along with some new ones. A repeat from the old disc, we get an audio commentary with director Norman Jewison, cinematographer Haskell Wexler, and actors Rod Steiger and Lee Grant. All of the participants were recorded separately and the results were edited together to create one coherent piece.
And deftly edited, I might add; the folks who compiled this commentary really did a marvelous job of pacing the track and linking the remarks together in a clean and logical manner. While some commentaries tend to focus only on specific topics - such as many which talk almost entirely about technical issues - this one covers the gamut. The participants offer details about the production plus anecdotes from the shoot, their reactions to the film then and now, and a wide variety of other issues such as cinematography, music, locations, and performances. It’s a simply wonderful commentary that far surpassed my expectations.
The film’s theatrical trailer also repeats from the old DVD, but everything else is new. We find three featurettes. Turning Up the Heat: Movie Making in the 60s runs 21 minutes, eight seconds and features remarks from Jewison, Wexler, producer Walter Mirisch, Princeton University Center for Africa-American Studies’ Dr. Imani Perry, USC Professor of Critical Studies Dr. Todd Boyd, AFI film historian Patricia King Hanson, filmmaker/BET President of Entertainment Reginald Hudlin, composer Quincy Jones, film music historian Jon Burlingame, and filmmaker John Singleton.
“Heat” looks at the creation of the Heat and the circumstances of the era in which it was made. It proves to be reasonably introspective glimpse of different cultural issues, but it straddles the two sides too inconsistently to be a genuine success. I think this would’ve worked better either as a straight “making-of” show or something better focused on the cultural issues/implications. A fair amount of the movie-specific info repeats from the commentary. As it stands. “Heat” is pretty good but not great.
The Slap Heard Around the World goes for seven minutes, 25 seconds and includes Singleton, Hudlin, Jewison, Boyd, Perry, Wexler, Mirisch, and Hanson. “World” looks at the shooting of the famous “slap scene” as well as its social implications. It follows in the same footsteps as the prior featurette and comes with the same strengths and weaknesses. It offers some decent insights but doesn’t seem particularly absorbing.
Finally, Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound runs 13 minutes and two seconds. It provides statements from Jones, Burlingame, Boyd, Jewison, lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Tonight Show head audio engineer Patrick Smith, and musician Herbie Hancock. We learn how Jones got into film scoring as well as aspects of the score and songs created for Heat. We get a nice examination of the flick’s music in this enjoyable program.
In terms of “missing extras”, we only lose one: a booklet with some production notes. It was a decent text but not anything I’ll mourn too loudly.
Due to its social commentary, In the Heat of the Night hasn’t aged especially well, but it remains a fairly compelling piece of drama. Part of my interest in it stemmed from the “time capsule” element, since the film neatly documents the attitudes of its era, but it works as a mystery nonetheless, largely due to some solid acting. The DVD offers very good picture and audio as well as some satisfying extras. This is a solid release for a fairly interesting movie. I recommend it to folks who already own the old DVD as well as those new to the flick.
To rate this film visit the original review of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT