Has it really been almost 20 years? Spike Lee’s first great film, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning DO THE RIGHT THING (1989), makes a rare appearance on the big screen in 35mm as part of Enzian’s Cult Classics series on Tuesday night at 9:30 PM. Incredibly entertaining and still quite provocative, the film focuses on life in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, where a white-owned pizza parlor flourishes in the predominantly black neighborhood. But on this particular sweltering summer day, circumstances lead to an outbreak of hostilities…
In just his third feature after SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT (1986) and SCHOOL DAZE (1988), Spike’s writing and filmmaking reaches a skill level here that established him as a major American filmmaker from that point on. The cast he worked with was sensational, and included both Hollywood veterans and actors ready to hit the bigtime in the indie film world–Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, John Turturro, Richard Edson, Bill Nunn, John Savage, Rosie Perez, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, and of course, Spike himself as Mookie the delivery boy, all lent their talents to this landmark and incendiary film about race relations.
DO THE RIGHT THING was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor for Aiello and Best (Original) Screenplay for Spike), won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Cinematography award (Ernest Dickerson), and four Los Angeles Film Critics Asociations awards including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Music. On the eve of a black man receiving his party’s nomination to run for President for the first time in American history, there may never be a more appropriate time to revisit or check out this brilliant and thought-provoking work. I know I’ll be there.