The Organization (film)

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The Organization
Poster of The Organization.jpg
Directed by Don Medford
Produced by Walter Mirisch
Written by John Ball
James Webb
Starring Sidney Poitier
Barbara McNair
Music by Gil Melle
Cinematography Joseph Biroc
Edited by Ferris Webster
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • October 20, 1971 (1971-10-20)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Organization is a 1971 American film starring Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs. It was the last of the trilogy featuring the police detective Tibbs that had begun with In the Heat of the Night (1967) and continued with They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970). In it Tibbs is called in to hunt down a gang of urban revolutionaries, suspected of a series of crimes. The title refers to a drug-trafficking organization Tibbs is pursuing.

Barbara McNair, Sheree North and Raul Julia co-star in the film, directed by Don Medford.


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 four 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 the construction site for the unfinished Montgomery Street Station.

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.



Released in 1971, The Organization would have the same problem as They Call Me Mister Tibbs!: although there was good work put in, critics noted that the film did not have a strong story. It would be another sequel that failed. After this movie, Poitier moved to doing dramas and comedies, most of them he would direct himself, while distancing himself from the character of Tibbs to make sure he would not be typecast in the role again. The move was well timed as blaxploitation cinema began to appear, dominated by films like Shaft, and Super Fly. The character of Virgil Tibbs was not seen again until the TV show In the Heat of the Night premiered in 1988, this time with Howard Rollins as Virgil Tibbs.

Release on DVD & HD[edit]

It was released on Region One DVD in 2001 and in Region Two in 2003. In 2010 it was digitized in High Definition (1080i) and broadcast on MGM HD.

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