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A shot in the arm of American consciousness Do the right thing– Spike Lee’s brand profile of racial tension and police overreaction – bristled in the veins of cinema-goers when it landed in cinemas in the summer of 1989. His title comes from a Malcolm X quote. Do the right thing rumbled with youthful energy, dry comic jokes, boombox-busted politics and operatic magic unique in New York City.

It is a violent polemic. It is a snapshot of stereotyping. It’s a chill hangout movie. It was also a showcase of Lee’s directional expertise, just as experience shaped his creative talent. Switch on the air conditioning and the FM 1

08 We-Love radio.

1. Do the right thing was inspired by a real incident that happened in 1986.

On December 19, 1986, four black men – Michael Griffith, Timothy Grimes, Curtis Sylvester and Cedric Sandiford – were out and about when their car broke down. They walked three miles to the predominantly Italian-American Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York, where they argued with some white teenagers before going to the New Park Pizzeria for dinner and phone. When they left the restaurant, they were approached by a larger group of white men, including those they had met before. Sandiford and Griffith were beaten; Griffith tried to run but was chased down the Belt Parkway where he was hit by a car and killed. The incident was part of Do the right thing‘s DNA that Lee wanted to open the film with his character Mookie and “Howard Beach!” while Sal’s famous pizzeria is defaced.

2. It is difficult to find recordings Do the right thing that is not the color red.

One of the film’s most impressive accomplishments is how strongly you feel the heat of the summer day. In addition to placing Sterno cans near the camera to keep the air wavy, color was the filmmaker’s primary tool for transferring the temperature to the screen. “I did a lot of research [color usage’s] Psychology and worked on a controlled palette that stayed pretty much in the warm area – yellow, red, earth tones, amber – and tried to stay away from blues and greens that have a cooling effect, ”said cameraman Ernest Dickerson The guard. This rule extended to costumes, stage sets and props, which is why almost every scene contains at least one red element.

3. Spike Lee wanted Robert De Niro to play Sal Do the right thing.

Oh what could have been. It’s a no-brainer that Lee Robert De Niro would have wanted to play the brazen Italian-American pizzeria owner who eventually went to Danny Aiello (who received an Oscar nomination for the film). “What young filmmaker doesn’t want him to be in your film?” Lee said. “So I gave him the script and he liked it, but he said it wasn’t for him.”

4th Do the right thing contains allusions to some classic films.

Lee is an avid cinephile and a student of film history. He is a big fan of Charles Laughton’s breast pounder Hunter’s Night that he dropped part of it in the middle Do the right thing. Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) wears the ankle ring version of Robert Mitchum Hunter’s Night The character’s “Love” and “Hate” tattoos explain their existence with almost exactly the same monologue.

Lee and cameraman Ernest Dickerson also turned to classic noir The third man for using disorienting Dutch angles; You can see the camera angle getting more aggressive, which leads to the uprising.

5. Spike Lee moved Do the right thing from Paramount to Universal to avoid a juicy ending.

It’s hard to imagine, but Paramount executives dropped a bomb on Lee shortly before the end of pre-production, demanding an unrealistically uplifting end. “They wanted Mookie and Sal to hug, be friends, and sing ‘We Are the World,'” said Lee new York Magazine. “You told me that on a Friday; Monday morning we were at Universal.” Obviously he did the right thing.

6. Rosie Perez’s dance sequence took eight hours to film.

Even the opening credits of Do the right thing are iconic. Rosie Perez’s frenetic, emotional dance to the gutshaking bass boom of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” prepares the stage as well as Shakespeare’s prologue.

“Spike didn’t tell me he needed anger, fear, and exhaustion,” said Perez. “Instead, he just said, ‘I need you kill it.’ I thought okay. I thought I killed it in the first hour. Eight hours later, that damn man still made me dance. I had a tennis elbow, my knee swelled. So I forgot the lyrics, the original words – you know, Elvis, John Wayne? For me everything was ‘Spike, Spike, Spike, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!’ And when anger and hate poured out of my body from sheer exhaustion, he said: “Cut it, print it! We have it!'”

7. Spike Lee hired the Nation of Islam’s paramilitaries to serve as security Do the right thing.

Production went to Bedford-Stuyvesant Street in late summer 1988, built Sal’s Famous Pizzeria and painted murals, but left the neighborhood largely in its natural state for filming. To ensure security, they hired members of Fruit of Islam, who were then led by Louis Farrakhan to act as security on the set. One of her first jobs was to get into well-known crack houses and guard them to keep drug addicts from returning.

8. The clothes in which the characters wear Do the right thing strengthens their racial loyalty.

Lee and costume designer Ruth E. Carter reinforced certain characters’ attitudes by dressing them in racially coded clothing. The white cyclist (John Savage) who wore Buggin ‘Out (Giancarlo Esposito) shoes wears a Larry Bird Celtics jersey while the Buggin’ Out sneakers are Air Jordan. Mookie also wears a Jordan jersey and a Dodgers jersey with Jackie Robinson’s number. While the racist Pino (John Turturro) wears black in classic rogue fashion, he wears a white undershirt at work in the pizzeria, which, in contrast to his open-minded brother Vito (Richard Edson), signals his racist affiliation in the neighborhood. wearing a black undershirt.

9. Do the right thing was aimed directly at hurting a great New York politician.

There is no doubt about it Do the right thing is an openly political film that deals with complex, large-scale issues such as gentrification, systemic racism and police brutality, but parts of it are also aimed specifically at a politician. Lee blamed Mayor Ed Koch for the deaths of black men and women like Eleanor Bumpurs (a person the movie is dedicated to) by overly aggressive police, adding Tyson to a picture of Mike Graffiti that says “DUMP COOK” Koch and Jesse Jackson campaign posters that read “Our Vote Counts!”

“We had this plan because the film came out in August and this fall was the democratic primary [between Koch and David Dinkins]”Said Lee new York Magazine. “So throughout the film you can hear Mister Señor Love Daddy, played by Samuel Jackson, who tells people to vote, vote, vote. And Dinkins won. “

10. Barack and Michelle Obama saw Do the right thing on her first date.

“He tried to show me his nifty side by choosing an independent filmmaker,” said Michelle Obama, thinking about seeing Do the right thing on her first date with her future husband – and the future president. On the 25th anniversary of Lee’s film, Barack Obama recorded a video message thanking Lee for helping him impress Michelle. Other options for the first date? Batman and Honey, I shrunk the kids were still in theaters and The Karate Child Part III came out the same weekend as Do the right thing.

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