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|Sidney Poitier||Virgil Tibbs|
|Barbara McNair||Valerie Tibbs|
|Gerald S. O'Loughlin||Jack Pecora|
|Sheree North||Mrs. Morgan|
|Fred Beir||Bob Alford|
|Bernie Hamilton||Lt. Jessop|
|Graham Jarvis||William Martin|
|Raul Julia||Juan Mendoza|
|Daniel J. Travanti||Sgt. Chassman|
"The Toughest Cop Has The Guts To Take On"
After a break-in at the headquarters of a company, the police are called in. One of the executives has been murdered, and the watchman has been bludgeoned. It is not a simple robbery, the man was killed by shots from two different guns, there are several unexplained facts and nothing was stolen.Virgil Tibbs (Poitier) is contacted by the organization which committed the break-in, stealing 4 million dollars worth of heroin. They are urban revolutionaries who explain that the company is a front for drug-dealing. They had hoped the break-in would lead the police to investigate the company itself and want to use the heroin to get to the leaders of the organization. Tibbs arrests the security guard to question him, but he is murdered while in the police car.Tibbs agrees to help the group, if they co-operate with him. One member of the group is hunted down and beaten by the drug-pushers, another is murdered. Tibbs himself comes under suspicion from his superiors when the narcotics division tie him to these stolen drugs, he is removed from the case, and suspended.He persuades one of his colleagues to help him with information on the bogus company behind the drug traffic. One of the revolutionaries, Juan, contacts the drug dealers and offers them the drugs back for $500,000. He sets it up smartly, proposing to exchange the first half of the drugs for half the money, with an exchange with identical suitcases in a very busy square.Once the exchange takes place one of the other revolutionaries ´robs´ the suitcase with the money. The drug dealer tries to get away, gets tackled by Juan, the drug dealer shoots a policeman but gets arrested. Juan notes the numberplate of the executives of the criminal organization that had carelessly come to supervise the deal. The person running off with the suitcase with the money is pursued by some of the gang through an underground building site for the subway system. Tibbs was also there, there is an amusing chase.Tibbs after that goes to the house of the wife of the security guard. When Tibbs' colleague arrives, Tibbs confronts the wife as the runner of the gang, shows heroin in a package she has just brought home and tells her she can choose between prison or getting killed by the mob like her husband. She gives in and identifies the two chiefs of the organization.The chiefs are arrested by a large group of police officers, including Tibbs. When they are taken to the police car, a mob hit man takes them out, before they can talk. Tibbs now sees that he won a battle, but lost the war.