Sidney Poitier brought class and believability to his role as San Francisco police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs, first in 1967’s “In The Heat of the Night” then 1970’s “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” and lastly in 1971’s THE ORGANIZATION.
The film opens with a daring and meticulously executed eight-minute, dialogue-free break-in to a corporate headquarters to steal $5 million worth of heroin.
The group that steals it are idealistic but violent revolutionaries that want to keep it off the street. Luckily for the film, the group’s led by Raul Julia (The Addams Family), Ron O’Neal (Superfly) and Billy Green Bush (Electra Glide in Blue), a trio of enjoyable actors in their youth.
They approach Tibbs and explain that the robbery wasn’t what it appeared.
They claim that the corporation is a front for wealthy, drug pushing businessmen all around the globe.
Tibbs refuses to get involved, not wanting to step into the gray area of helping criminals who have admitted their theft. When a key player is murdered and Tibbs know that the group has been falsely accused, he’s reluctantly drawn into the case.
Poitier is excellent as Tibbs, bringing a “Dirty Harry” feel to the gritty 70’s settings, while maintaining a far stricter set of rules than Harry ever bothered with. There’s plenty of suspense and action as Tibbs works to get to the real killer, while trying to keep everything he’s doing secret from his partner and superiors. The tunnel chase sequence was filmed in the BART tunnel before its completion.
Gerald S. O’Loughlin (The Rookies), Bernie Hamilton (Capt. Dobey on Starsky & Hutch) and Sheree North (Baretta) are 70’s cop shows regulars who you’ll recognize if you enjoyed the many TV crime series of the era.
The last of the Tibbs series, it’s elevated by Poitier throughout. His relationship with Mrs. Tibbs (Barbara McNair) is terrific and adds nice weight to the adventure.
It didn’t get much box office push, opening as a double feature (remember those?) with the Burt Lancaster wester “Lawman”.
It’s a fun blast from the past that runs, shoots and steals its way to a B-.