7.9/10
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433 user 105 critic

Do the Right Thing (1989)

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.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Sal
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Paul Benjamin ...
ML
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Officer Ponte
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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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

21 July 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heatwave  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$27,545,445 (USA)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Wesley Snipes turned down a role in the film, in order to star in Major League (1989). He'd team up with Lee for Mo' Better Blues (1990), and would be the lead in Jungle Fever (1991). See more »

Goofs

Sal says only Italian-Americans are on the wall. However, there is also a picture of Sophia Loren, who is Italian, not Italian-American. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mister Senor Love Daddy: Wake up! Wake up! Up you wake!
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Spike Lee (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Party Hearty
Music and Lyrics by William "Ju Ju" House and Kent Wood
Performed by EU
Ju House Music (ASCAP) and Syce-M-Up Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Virgin Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Spike Lee's best work! A mind-blowing masterpiece of cinema! @
30 April 2001 | by (Jersey City, NJ) – See all my reviews

"Do the Right Thing" is a powerful, uplifting, visually stunning masterpiece. It's a movie that I can watch over and over again, and deservedly takes the Number 7 Spot of My Favorite Movies Of All Time. This was one of Spike's debut efforts, and until this day--the best one. Spike gives us an honest, unflinching look at the Bedford-Stuyvestant area of Brooklyn on the hottest day of the summer. He perfectly displays the racial tensions that go on between everybody from blacks to whites to Koreans. Yet he never gets preachy, which is one of the brilliant things about this movie. Some of Spike's best work is demonstrated in his shots of Radio Raheem, played excellently by Bill Nunn. RR doesn't say much, but he has this violent gaze which sums up his feelings without a word being said. Spike gives us some great angles of his face, demonstrating the pure rage brewing inside of him. He also has a great scene in which he sums up the meanings of love and hate, in Spike's trademark poetry-in-motion style. RR constantly carries around a boombox, playing the same song "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy. That song is one of the best musical themes in movie history, perfectly summing up racial tension among inner cities. This movie doesn't tell its audience that black people are better than others, nor does it say that Hispanics are, or whites, or Asians. It just gives us a raw look at what happens when we let racial quarrels get out of hand. We learn how sometimes it's appropriate to preach against racism, and sometimes we're just overreacting.

The cast is terrific, and they deliver memorable performances. I really wish Danny Aiello picked up the Oscar for his role as Sal, because that is definitely the pinnacle performance of his career and one of the best I've ever seen. Other noteworthy performances are by John Turturro, Ossie Davis and Giancarlo Esposito.

The film is put together with such fast-paced editing that it doesn't once get boring, doesn't have any low points. This is a gritty, memorable film that I wish can be considered more prominent in the eyes of the average moviegoer, because it really deserves great recognition for its unique, unforgettable style.

Spike definitely knows how to do the right thing.

My score: 10 (out of 10)


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