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Do the Right Thing (1989)

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On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee
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Popularity
2,252 ( 581)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Danny Aiello ... Sal
Ossie Davis ... Da Mayor
Ruby Dee ... Mother Sister
Richard Edson ... Vito
Giancarlo Esposito ... Buggin Out
Spike Lee ... Mookie
Bill Nunn ... Radio Raheem
John Turturro ... Pino
Paul Benjamin ... ML
Frankie Faison ... Coconut Sid
Robin Harris ... Sweet Dick Willie
Joie Lee ... Jade
Miguel Sandoval ... Officer Ponte
Rick Aiello ... Officer Long
John Savage ... Clifton
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Storyline

This film looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. The neighborhood has changed considerably in the time he's been there and is now composed primarily of African-Americans and Hispanics. His son Pino hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant represents something that is part of his life and sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out - who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian-Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black - eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can...

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Spanish | Korean

Release Date:

21 July 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heatwave See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$27,545,445
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Delroy Lindo was offered the chance to audition as one of the "Corner Men" but turned it down. Lindo starred in Crooklyn (1994), another Spike Lee joint. See more »

Goofs

When Radio Raheem does his "love and hate" monologue, a shadow of the camera can be seen on him throughout much of the scene. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mister Senor Love Daddy: Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!
See more »

Alternate Versions

the "pan & scan" version broadcast on ITV4 truncates the conversation between Radio Raheem and the Koreans when he visits their store to replace the batteries for his portable radio. The sequence where the husband loses his temper and swears "mother-f&%k you", to which Raheem responds warmly is omitted. See more »

Connections

References Bye Bye Birdie (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Shoot Me
Music and Lyrics by Spike Lee, Mervyn Warren, Claude McKnight, and David Thomas
Performed by Take 6
Spikey-Poo Songs, Inc. (ASCAP)/Dee Mee Music/Mervyn Warren Music/Claude Vee Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Reprise/Warner Brothers Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
There it is..... Love and Hate
28 February 2008 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

90% of Spike Lee's masterpiece Do the Right Thing is a perfectly developed character study of a wide range of model personalities who all happen to be in Bedford-Stuyvesant on the hottest day of the summer. What the other ten percent consists of you will have to discover for yourself.

This ingenious film explores extremes, but never gives itself over to stereotypes as its plot cleverly navigates through the politics of inner city life and the struggles of American racism. As an artful and intelligent examination of the ethics of violence and prejudice, Do the Right Thing is unparalleled. It implies a simple profound question - what is the 'right thing'? But steadfastly refuses to supply even a hint of an answer - appropriately leaving its central point entirely up to its audience. Instead, the film points to a different, perhaps more important question "Whose version of right is right for you?" There are a lot of good people, a lot of bad people, and a very realistic majority of people who are usually somewhere in the middle but also somewhat confused throughout this film. African American, Latino, East Asian and Italian American cultures form the dynamics of the relationships that drive the story, and conflict is their medium. Drawing from two incisive but different comments on violence from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Lee extrapolates his story and the ideas he wants to explore by showing us characters that are as real as they are exaggerated and somewhat unpredictable events that they create, are swept into or actively or passively participate in. Although the point of the film is not really critique, nobody is left unscathed.

I am not going to tell you what the film says - I can't, because it is, more than most films dealing in such a direct manner with the subject of race, open to interpretation. And what you bring to it will influence, but not determine what you take away from it. It is just that powerful.

Instead, I will simply give Do the Right Thing my highest recommendation.

Superbly written, edited, directed and filmed. Well acted (Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Giancarlo Esposito, Rosie Perez, Spike Lee and Richard Edson really stood out for me) and very nicely soundscaped, Do the Right Thing is the perfect film for a solitary night of reflection or for sharing with an intelligent group of friends. However, be forewarned, the film hits hard, and will disturb some people a great deal - especially those who feel a need for closure and resolution.


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