In the Heat of the Night movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was In the Heat of the Night filmed?

1967

About In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night was originally a novel that became a film. The television series, starring the famed Carroll O’Connor, initially ran on NBC, but the network decided to cancel the highly popular show due to its viewers’ demographics (most viewers were older; NBC was looking for a younger demographic). CBS would eventually pick up the series for another three seasons.

In the Heat of the Night was groundbreaking because it addressed racism as well as a myriad of other controversial topics. The chief characters, Chief Bill Gillespie, and Detective Virgil Tibbs have their squabbles, but they are an extremely effective pair when it comes to fighting crime in fictional Sparta, Mississippi.

In the Heat of the Night was originally a novel written by John Ball, but the novel didn’t address the same issues as the series. Rather, the novel was a whodunit that won rave reviews. In fact, Ball would eventually write six more novels around the life of Virgil Tibbs as well as four short stories featuring the investigator-turned-attorney.

The television version of In the Heat of the Night was often considered a reboot of the movie, but it was not. It was a sequel, and although there had been two decades had passed since the film, viewers were told the time period was a few years removed from the movie’s timeline.

In the television pilot, Virgil Tibbs returns to Sparta, Mississippi, his hometown. Virgil and his wife, Althea, lived in Philadelphia (PA), but his mother’s funeral provides an occasion for Virgil to come back to Sparta. This sad event is the impetus for Tibbs to return home permanently.

In the Heat of the Night was adapted for the stage in 2010. During the 2014 - 2015 touring season, the L.A. Theater Works team took the show nationwide. The play is still put on nationwide. Writer-producer Jon Robert Cole began working on a second reboot of the series in 2017.

City Locations

Hammond, Louisiana; Covington, Georgia; Dyersburg, Tennessee

Location Types

American, Rustic, Police, Buildings/Offices, Americana/Anywhere

Location Styles

Dated/50's-60's-70's Building, Dated/Retro, Dilapidated/Neglected, Georgian/Southern, Luxury

In the Heat of the Night Locations

Production of the series In the Heat of the Night was chiefly filmed in two locations. The first season was filmed in Hammond, Louisiana. This city is less than one hour’s drive from New Orleans, and it is less than one hundred miles from the Louisiana-Mississippi border. Hammond is also about forty-five minutes from Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge.

Hammond is a great destination to visit with a variety of attractions, parks, and entertainment. It is home to Southeastern Louisiana University as well as a community college. Hammond is a nice spot for shopping and fine restaurants are plentiful in this charming town.

Hammond was a beautiful film shoot location, but the original location was changed due to some shots offering too many more modern buildings than the director envisioned.

After the first season, filming was moved to Covington, Georgia, which is a suburb of Atlanta. Covington is nicknamed the Hollywood of the South, with not only The Vampire Diaries also filmed here, but Sweet Magnolias as well. The town is filled with lots of boutique stores as well as antique stores and a plethora of restaurants.

Visitors to Covington, Georgia may take a trolley to visit In the Heat of the Night locations, the fictional town of Sparta, Mississippi is a great choice. Tour guides offer neat stories while you ride and view. There is also an on location self-guided tour where views of Sparta, Mississippi can also be had from the comfort of one’s own vehicle.

Fun fact:

Covington, Georgia - where In the Heat of the Night was filmed for the bulk of its seven seasons, was also the home of Mystic Hills, Virginia of The Vampire Diaries.

The greenhouse scene In the Heat of the Night

Cotton Plantation, Plantation Dr, Dyersburg, TN

Considered to be one of the best scenes In the Heat of the Night, particularly since it is set in 1967 Mississippi (the horrendous murders of three civil rights workers had taken place just a few years before), the Greenhouse Scene in the movie version of In the Heat of the Night features a black man standing up to a white sheriff with physical violence.

Sidney Poitier plays the role of Virgil Tibbs. Tibbs was born in Sparta, Mississippi - the fictional town in which the movie is set. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he would eventually marry and work as a detective. However, he becomes involved in investigating a murder in Sparta after he had come home for his mother’s funeral.

In the Greenhouse Scene, Virgil and a wealthy white landowner literally come to blows. The landowner strikes Virgil with a slap to the face. Rather than backing down, Virgil slaps him back. The landowner is also a suspect in the murder case, a man named Eric Endicott. Sheriff Gillespie is present when the altercation takes place.

Tibbs says to the sheriff: “Gillespie, you saw it. Well, what are you going to do about it?” The sheriff replies, “There was a time when I could have had you shot.”

You can find this In the Heat of the Night film scene in Dyersburg, Tennessee on Plantation Drive. Although the cotton fields are no longer there, the area is still rich with history, and you can spot many background areas you’ll recognize from the series. However, it is out in the rural area so driving yourself is the best way to get there.

The plot twist scene In the Heat of the Night

Hammond, LA

While Virgil Tibbs is in Sparta, he is arrested for the murder of a prominent businessman, Chicago native Phillip Colbert. Colbert had come to Mississippi to open a factory, and Tibbs was waiting for a train to leave Sparta when the murder took place. Tibbs is eventually cleared of the murder, and Chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs is the top detective in Philadelphia’s Police Department.

Although Gillespie is reluctant to do so at first, when he learns of Tibbs’ talent as an investigator, he is obliged to ask for Tibbs’ help in tracking down Mr. Colbert’s killer.

Together, the pair determine that the killer of Phillip Colbert is Ralph Henshaw, a local man. Henshaw is a dishonest diner counter worker who is in a relationship with a sixteen-year-old girl. The girl becomes pregnant, and Henshaw gives her money for an abortion. During this scene, it is revealed that Henshaw is the father, and that Delores was going to have the procedure in a backroom abortionist’s store.

When Colbert’s killer is revealed, all the prime characters are present. Tibbs was actually confronted by a mob, and a gun was pointed at Tibbs. When Tibbs reveals the money in Delores’ purse - the money Henshaw stole from Mr. Colbert when Ralph murdered him - Delores’ brother attacks Henshaw.

Henshaw kills Delores’ brother before Tibbs can disarm him and arrest him. You can find this filming location of In the Heat of the Night, in Hammond, Louisiana although the specific site is not known but you will recognize certain areas that were in the show. While you are in town, take the time to visit some of the attractions like Zemurray Park, Hamilton Regional Arts Center, or the Safari Quest Family Fun Center.

Tibbs proves his expertise scene In the Heat of the Night

Ulam’s Funeral Parlor (Heil-Schuessler & Sinn Funeral Home), 111 W Main St, Sparta, IL

The scene opens at Ulam’s funeral parlor in Sparta. Dr. Stuart, the medical examiner, comments on Mr. Colbert’s murder: “Ten cents, ten million dollars - just doesn’t matter when a man’s time comes.” Both Tibbs and Chief Gillespie begin examining the body, but it is here where Virgil’s talents and skill as a detective really shine.

Virgil begins to touch Colbert’s hands and feet, looking for clues. Virgil notes the recent manicure of the deceased man, as well as the state of his shoes and socks. Virgil notes the annoyance of the other men in attendance, but he asks for certain tools in order to make some determinations regarding the murder.

Tibbs discusses the possible time of the murder with the men present. Here, Virgil shows his knowledge by determining that rigor mortis has already occurred, which means that the medical examiner is wrong about the time of death. The thermometer that Tibbs asks for is to assist in determining the time of death as well. The scene ends when the sheriff gets a phone call about a runaway suspect.

You will find this In the Heat of the Night film shoot location in Sparta, Illinois on West Main Street. It is right in the middle of the city near West Broadway Street and South Market Street. You will have to drive yourself, take a cab, or use a rideshare app to get here because there is no public transport.

Conclusion

In the Heat of the Night has been published in many forms. The original book by John Ball is considered a page-turning whodunit. The book was adapted for the big screen and released in 1967, with the Oscar-winning Sidney Poitier portraying Virgil Tibbs. Later, just over twenty years after the debut of In the Heat of the Night in theaters, NBC would create a series based on the book and film.

Although there were a few funny scenes In the Heat of the Night, the film was mostly a drama. In the Heat of the Night as a series still explored topics such as racism, but the television also depicted growth in race relations in the South. Tibbs and Gillespie, once uncomfortable rivals, discovered a friendship and mutual respect for one another.