4. IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)
Back in 1967, when the much-heralded crime drama In The Heat Of The Night debuted, Sydney Poitier was breaking down numerous doors for black actors in Hollywood. The movie came out at the height of the Civil Right Movement, lending tons of topical subtext to the film’s white cop/black cop plot.
Poitier played the black cop, obviously, a hard-nosed lawman who didn’t take guff from anyone. Especially not the pasty old cracker in this groundbreaking scene, in which Poitier reacts to the white guy’s facial slap with a rather pimp-like backhand to the other guy’s grill. Widely regarded as the first time a black person ever fought back against a white man in film history, it’s an important moment that’s both awesomely badass and socially pertinent.