Do the Right Thing (1989)

R | 120 mins | Drama | 30 June 1989

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee

Producer:

Spike Lee

Cinematographer:

Ernest Dickerson

Production Designer:

Wynn Thomas

Production Company:

40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks
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HISTORY

The film ends with the following quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X: “‘Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in a monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers,’ – Martin Luther King”; and, “‘I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence,’ – Malcolm X.”
       The above quotes are followed by a dedication to the families of: Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Griffith, Arthur Miller, Edmund Perry, Yvonne Smallwood, and Michael Stewart.
       A 1 Jun 1988 DV article noted that writer-director-actor Spike Lee developed the idea for Do the ... More Less

The film ends with the following quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X: “‘Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in a monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers,’ – Martin Luther King”; and, “‘I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence,’ – Malcolm X.”
       The above quotes are followed by a dedication to the families of: Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Griffith, Arthur Miller, Edmund Perry, Yvonne Smallwood, and Michael Stewart.
       A 1 Jun 1988 DV article noted that writer-director-actor Spike Lee developed the idea for Do the Right Thing after a discussion with actor Robert De Niro. The two had conversed about a 1986 incident at Queens, NY’s Howard Beach, in which a group of African-American men were attacked in a neighborhood heavily populated by Italian-Americans, and one of the victims was struck by a car and killed while attempting to flee. A 13 Jun 1989 HR brief stated that De Niro was Lee’s first choice for the character of “Sal,” but when De Niro decided against the role, he suggested Danny Aiello, who was eventually cast.
       Principal photography began 18 Jul 1988, as stated in several contemporary sources including the 1 Jun 1988 DV. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, filming took place on one block in Brooklyn, NY, on “Stuyvesant Avenue, between Lexington and Quincy.” The dilapidated and poverty-ridden street was transformed by the film crew, with new constructions including a working pizza parlor that doubled for Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, and a radio station that replaced a burnt-out building. Several of the characters’ residences were set in a former crack house that had been shut down by production, and the brownstone that doubled as the home of the only white resident, “Clifton,” had been a vacant building beforehand. On the Saturday preceding the start of principal photography, director Spike Lee hosted a large block party in order to establish a positive relationship between the residents of the neighborhood and the filmmakers. Filming on the $6.2 million production was completed 14 Sep 1988, as noted in a 28 Sep 1988 Var item.
       For the final confrontation between Aiello’s “Sal” and Giancarlo Esposito’s character, “Buggin Out,” Lee allowed the actors to improvise as they slung racist remarks at one another, as stated in a 19 Sep 2000 HR article. Esposito, who was half-Italian and half-African-American in descent, told HR that filming the scene had been cathartic for both actors, stating, “I heard things from [Aiello’s] mouth I hadn’t heard in years – insulting things that broke my heart – and he heard the same from me.”
       The film showed in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival on 19 May 1989, as reported in a 28 May 1989 NYT article.
       Critical reception was largely positive. Lee’s unique style was lauded by NYT’s Vincent Canby, who described the young filmmaker as “the most distinctive American multi-threat man since Woody Allen.” Echoing that sentiment in her 30 Jun 1989 LAT review, Sheila Benson stated that Lee was a “director working with absolute assurance and power.” A 5 Jul 1989 DV article addressed certain negative critical reactions leading up to the release, including articles in Newsweek, Village Voice, and New York, that accused Do the Right Thing of promoting violence and expressed concern about potentially volatile reactions from moviegoers. However, no violent incidents were linked to the film’s 30 Jun 1989 opening in 360 theaters across the U.S., and Lee conveyed his disappointment in the negative backlash, noting that the film’s “entertainment value is being obscured by all the controversy.” In the same article, Lee remarked that Universal Pictures had been very supportive despite negative press.
       As stated in a 5 Jul 1989 Var article, the opening weekend box-office earnings were roughly $3.5 million. The film ultimately took in $26 million in box-office receipts, according to a 17 Nov 1989 USA Today news item.
       Do the Right Thing was ranked 96th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. It was added to the National Film Registry in 1999, and won Best Picture and Best Director from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, in addition to Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello) from the Chicago Film Critics Association. The New York Film Critics awarded Ernest Dickerson with Best Cinematography, and the film received the following Academy Award nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Danny Aiello), and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). The Golden Globe Awards also nominated Do the Right Thing for Best Motion Picture – Drama; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Danny Aiello); Best Director – Motion Picture; and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. At the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards, Ruby Dee won “Best Actress in a Motion Picture,” and Ossie Davis won “Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.” The 19 Sep 2000 HR article reported that Do the Right Thing also won the Gotham Winstar Classic Film Tribute award at the 2000 Gotham Independent Film Awards.
       A documentary centered on the film, Making ‘Do the Right Thing,’ was released only a few months after the film’s opening (1989, see entry). Lee also wrote a book about the film, Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint (New York, 1989), which included the screenplay, a diary that covered the development of the script, and an addendum about the production, as reported in a 25 Jul 1989 DV brief.
       The end credits include the following acknowledgements: “Malcolm X/Martin Luther King, Jr. photo courtesy of World Wide Photos/Peggy Farrell”; "Branford Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard and Donald Harris courtesy of CBS Records"; and, “Quotation by Malcolm X used by permission of Dr. Betty Shabazz; Quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used by permission of Mrs. Coretta Scott King.” A “Special Thanks” in the end credits acknowledges the following organizations and individuals: Explosives Unit – New York City Fire Department; Orangetown Fire Company Number 1, South Nyack, NY; John Wilson; Rush; New York City Board of Education and District 16; Public School 308; Antioch Baptist Church; Bed-Stuy Community Board #3; and, New York City Mayor’s Office for Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. “Special Thanks” are followed by a “Thanks Also To”: Brooklyn Beer; Canal Jeans; Elan Jewelry; El Diario/La Prensa; Ellis Collection; Essence Magazine; Gitano; Johnson Publications; Levi Strauss & Co.; Miller Beer Company; Mr. Softee, Inc.; Nike; New York Daily News; New York Newsday; New York Post; New York Times Company; Old English; Pepsi-Cola; Ray-Ban/Bausch & Lomb; Radio WJIT; Willi Wear; and Xenobia. End credits also include the statement, “Shot on location in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in the Great Borough of Brooklyn, New York,” followed by, “Fight the Power; A Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks Production; Ya-Dig; Sho-Nuff; By Any Means Necessary.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1988
p. 1, 17.
Daily Variety
5 Jul 1989
p. 12, 22.
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 2000
p. S-12.
Los Angeles Times
30 Jun 1989
Calendar, p. 1, 12.
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1989
Section F, p. 3.
New York Times
20 May 1989
p. 11.
New York Times
28 May 1989
p. 11, 14.
New York Times
30 Jun 1989
Section C, p. 16.
Orlando Sentinel
12 Jan 1990
p. 13.
San Francisco Chronicle
30 Jun 1989
Section E, p. 3.
Seattle Times
31 Dec 1989
Section B, p. 4.
USA Today
17 Nov 1989.
---
USA Today
18 Nov 1999.
---
Variety
28 Sep 1988.
---
Variety
26 May 1989.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks Production
A Spike Lee Joint
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit mgr
PRODUCERS
Prod
Line prod
Co-prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam asst
Addl cam asst
Louma Crane tech
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
3d grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Grip trainee
Best boy
3d elec
3d elec
Generator op
Elec trainee
Elec trainee
Prod asst-elec
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
Chargeman
2d scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative matching
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
1st asst props
2d asst props
3d asst props
Addl asst props
Key set dresser
Set dec
Asst set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Shop person
Prod asst-shop
Const coord
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Const grip
Prod asst-const
Key set builder
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward seamstress
Prod asst-ward
Prod asst-ward
MUSIC
Orig mus score
Featuring, Orig mus score
Mus copyist
Piano tuner
Mus score rec at
Conductor, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Featuring, Tenor and soprano saxophone, The Natura
Trumpet, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Trumpet, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Alto saxophone, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Drums, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Bass, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Piano, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Piano, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Contractor- Violins, The Natural Spiritual Orchest
Concert master - Violins, The Natural Spiritual Or
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Violin, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Viola, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Cello, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Bass, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
Bass, The Natural Spiritual Orchestra
SOUND
Sd des
Cableman/Prod asst
Cableman/Prod asst
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Dolby Stereo consultant
Sd equip
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Asst eff
Opticals
Main and end titles des and prod
Do the Right Thing logo by
DANCE
"Fight the Power" choreog
"Fight the Power" choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Addl makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
40 Acres prod coord
40 Acres prod asst
Prod comptroller
Auditor
Asst auditor
Scr supv
Dailies projection
Projectionist, Dailies
Casting asst
Prod asst-casting
Teamster capt
Extras casting
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-set
Prod asst-office
Prod asst-office
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Emergency medical services
Completion guarantee
Unit pub
Caterers
Product placement
Product placement coord
Craft services
Photo research
STAND INS
Stunt double, Sal
Stunt driver
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
Stunt coord asst
Stunt coord asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Fight the Power," music and lyrics by Carlton Ridenhour, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler and Keith Shocklee, performed by Public Enemy, Def American Songs, Inc. (BMI), courtesy of Def Jam/CBS Records
"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
"Can't Stand It," music and lyrics by David Hines, performed by Steel Pulse, Pulse Music, Ltd. (P.R.S.), courtesy of MCA Records/Loot Music
+
SONGS
"Fight the Power," music and lyrics by Carlton Ridenhour, Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler and Keith Shocklee, performed by Public Enemy, Def American Songs, Inc. (BMI), courtesy of Def Jam/CBS Records
"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
"Can't Stand It," music and lyrics by David Hines, performed by Steel Pulse, Pulse Music, Ltd. (P.R.S.), courtesy of MCA Records/Loot Music
"Tu Y Yo," music and lyrics by Rubèn Blades, R.B. Productions, Inc. (ASCAP), courtesy of Elektra Records
"Why Don't We Try," music and lyrics by Raymond Jones, Larry DeCarmine, Vincent Morris, performed by Keith John, Jerrelle Music Publishing (ASCAP), Zubaidah Music, Inc./Unicity Music Publishing (ASCAP), Hey Nineteen Music (ASCAP), courtesy of Black Bull Productions
"Hard To Say," music and lyrics by Raymond Jones, performed by Lori Perry and Gerald Aston, Zubaidah Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Gerald Alston courtesy of Motown Records, LP/Taj Records, Lori Perry courtesy of MCA Records
"Party Hearty," music and lyrics by William "Ju Ju" House and Kent Wood, performed by EU, Ju House Music (ASCAP), Syce-M-Up Music (ASCAP), courtesy of Virgin Records
"Prove To Me," music and lyrics by Raymond Jones and Sami McKinney, performed by Perri, Zubaidah Music, Inc. (ASCAP), Unicity Music, Avid One Music (ASCAP), courtesy of Zebra/MCA Records
"Feel So Good," music and lyrics by Sami McKinney, Lorri Perry and Michael O'Hara, performed by Perri, O'Hara Music/Texas City Music (BMI), Avid One Music (ASCAP), MCA Publishing/Perrylane Music (BMI), courtesy of Zebra/MCA Records
"My Fantasy," music and lyrics by Teddy Riley and Gene Griffin, performed by Guy, Cal-Gene Music, Inc. (BMI)/Don Ril Music Group (ASCAP), Virgin Songs, Inc. (BMI), courtesy of MCA Records
"Never Explain Love," music and lyrics by Raymond Jones and Cathy Block, performed by Al Jarreau, Building Block Music (BMI), Zubaidah Music Inc./Unicity Music Publishing (ASCAP), Al Jarreau courtesy of Warner Brothers Records/WEA Inter'l., Inc.
"We Love Radio Jingles," performed by Take 6, courtesy of Reprise/Warner Brothers Records
"Lift Every Voice and Sing," music and lyrics by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosemond Johnson.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 June 1989
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival screening: 19 May 1989
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 June 1989
Production Date:
18 July--14 September 1988 in Brooklyn, New York
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 May 1989
Copyright Number:
PA423047
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording in selected theatres
Color
Color by Du Art Laboratories, Inc.
Lenses/Prints
Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
120
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29691
SYNOPSIS

In Brooklyn, New York, Mister Señor Love Daddy announces on his radio show that the temperature will exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit that day. Outside a church, a mentally handicapped man named Smiley holds up pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, saying that even though they are dead, people still need to fight against racism. Mookie, a young African-American man, counts his cash at home then wakes up his sister, Jade, who fights to remain asleep. Down the block, Mookie’s boss, an Italian man named Sal Frangione, opens his shop, Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. As Sal’s sons, Pino and Vito, fight over who is going to sweep, Pino expresses disdain for the family business. Mookie reports to work, and is closely followed by an older African-American man, Da Mayor, who offers to sweep the sidewalk for one dollar. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, teenagers Cee, Ella, Punchy, and Ahmad hang out on a stoop as their friend “Radio Raheem” walks by, playing loud music by the hip-hop group, Public Enemy, from his portable stereo. Da Mayor, taking the dollar he earned from Sal to a convenience store to buy a beer, reprimands the Asian storeowners, Sonny and Kim, for running out of his preferred drink. Da Mayor passes by the house of an older woman named Mother Sister, and she accuses him of being a drunk. At home, a young Latina woman named Tina fights with her mother, who refuses to babysit for Tina’s son, Hector. Buggin Out, a young African-American man, becomes angry when he orders pizza from Sal and notices that the establishment’s “Wall of Fame” features pictures of white Italian-Americans only. Buggin Out and Sal ... +


In Brooklyn, New York, Mister Señor Love Daddy announces on his radio show that the temperature will exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit that day. Outside a church, a mentally handicapped man named Smiley holds up pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, saying that even though they are dead, people still need to fight against racism. Mookie, a young African-American man, counts his cash at home then wakes up his sister, Jade, who fights to remain asleep. Down the block, Mookie’s boss, an Italian man named Sal Frangione, opens his shop, Sal’s Famous Pizzeria. As Sal’s sons, Pino and Vito, fight over who is going to sweep, Pino expresses disdain for the family business. Mookie reports to work, and is closely followed by an older African-American man, Da Mayor, who offers to sweep the sidewalk for one dollar. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, teenagers Cee, Ella, Punchy, and Ahmad hang out on a stoop as their friend “Radio Raheem” walks by, playing loud music by the hip-hop group, Public Enemy, from his portable stereo. Da Mayor, taking the dollar he earned from Sal to a convenience store to buy a beer, reprimands the Asian storeowners, Sonny and Kim, for running out of his preferred drink. Da Mayor passes by the house of an older woman named Mother Sister, and she accuses him of being a drunk. At home, a young Latina woman named Tina fights with her mother, who refuses to babysit for Tina’s son, Hector. Buggin Out, a young African-American man, becomes angry when he orders pizza from Sal and notices that the establishment’s “Wall of Fame” features pictures of white Italian-Americans only. Buggin Out and Sal have a heated argument, and Sal throws him out. On the sidewalk, Mookie reprimands Buggin Out for putting his job at risk and asks him to stay away from the pizzeria for a week. As Mookie delivers a pizza, Da Mayor stops him to say he must “always do the right thing.” Later, Da Mayor attempts to flirt with Mother Sister on her stoop as Jade does the woman’s hair. To combat the heat, Cee and Punchy turn on a fire hydrant, allowing children to play in the water. When they purposely spray Charlie, a short-tempered white man, in his convertible car, Charlie flags down two policemen, Officer Ponte and Officer Long, but Cee and Punchy run away. Attempting to make a report, Charlie asks the people in the neighborhood who witnessed the crime to help him identify the assailants, but everyone remains mum. Mookie delivers lunch to the deejay Mister Señor Love Daddy, who instructs Mookie to say something on the air. Reluctantly obliging, Mookie dedicates the next song to Tina. On the street, Clifton, one of the neighborhood’s few white residents, accidentally scuffs Buggin Out’s new sneakers. When Buggin Out accosts Clifton, asking why he wants to live in an African-American neighborhood, Clifton defends himself by saying that he was born in Brooklyn. Overhearing Da Mayor as he bribes a young boy named Eddie Lovell to buy him a beer, Ahmad confronts the old man, telling him he is a bum. Da Mayor says that his heart was broken over the years by unfortunate experiences, including his inability to support his wife and five children, but Ahmad argues that it was Da Mayor’s fault if he did not feed his family. At the pizzeria, Mookie talks to Tina on a payphone and she complains that she never sees him. Angry with Mookie for tying up the phone line, Pino calls him a racist name. Mookie tells Pino he should not use racist terminology, especially since so many of Pino's idols are African-American, including entertainers Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, and Prince. Before taking another pizza out for delivery, Mookie asks Sal if he can get paid early, but Sal refuses to give him the money until Mookie has finished his shift. Mookie runs into Radio Raheem, who shows him the two rings on his hands, one that spells “Love,” and the other “Hate,” explaining that the story of life is the struggle between love and hate. Raheem takes his stereo into Sal’s shop, but Sal demands that he turn it off before he is allowed to order. Pino takes Sal aside, saying he is sick of African-Americans and complaining that his friends tease him for working in an African-American neighborhood. When Smiley knocks on the window of the pizza shop, Pino snaps and drives him away, prompting Sweet Dick Willie, a middle-aged man across the street, to yell at Pino for accosting a mentally handicapped man. In hopes that Sal will put pictures of African-Americans on the wall, Buggin Out announces to neighbors that he is starting a boycott of the pizzeria. Although he attempts to stop Jade from going in, she ignores him. When Jade orders pizza, Pino and Mookie watch as Sal flirts with her and sits down with her, complimenting her eyes. This prompts Mookie to pull Jade into the alley where he tells his sister that she is no longer welcome in the shop, but Jade changes the subject, asking him when he is going to leave her apartment. Back inside, Mookie asks Sal to leave Jade alone. Meanwhile, Raheem fights with the Asian shop owners, Sonny and Kim, as he tries to purchase batteries for his stereo, but they have a hard time understanding his English. Chasing after an ice cream truck, Eddie runs into the street, but Da Mayor pushes him to the curb, saving Eddie from getting run over by a speeding car. Later, Tina orders a pizza and Mookie delivers it. At her apartment, they kiss, and Mookie asks if they can have sex. Tina complains that Mookie has a one-track mind and reminds him about their son, Hector, who is in the kitchen with Tina’s mother. Tina finally goes into the bedroom with Mookie, who instructs her to undress and runs ice cubes up and down her naked body, promising to return that night. Buggin Out and Raheem commiserate over the poor treatment they have received at Sal’s, and Raheem agrees to go along with the boycott. After the shop closes, Sal comments that they had a good day and suggests that he change the name of the shop to Sal & Sons Famous Pizzeria. He tells Mookie that he will always have a place there, too. Cee, Punchy, Ahmad, and Ella show up, begging for a slice of pizza, and Sal tells Mookie to let them in. Just then, Raheem arrives with Buggin Out and Smiley, marching into the pizzeria with his stereo speakers blaring the song, “Fight the Power.” Buggin Out yells at Sal to put pictures of African-Americans on the Wall of Fame, but Sal orders them to turn off the “jungle music.” When Sal snaps, directing a racial slur at Buggin Out, Vito, Pino, Mookie, and the other patrons join the argument. Sal destroys Raheem’s stereo with a baseball bat, inciting Raheem to attack him, and a brawl breaks out. The people of the neighborhood swarm as the fight moves outside onto the sidewalk. Raheem chokes Sal on the ground just as Officers Long and Ponte arrive, manhandling Buggin Out and Raheem. Long holds a nightstick against Raheem’s neck, suffocating him. Although Ponte orders him to stop, Long ignores his partner, and Raheem drops dead on the street. Angry, Ponte kicks Raheem’s body and yells at him to get up. Finally acknowledging that Raheem is dead, Long and Ponte shove his corpse into a police car and drive it away as onlookers protest. The neighbors outside the pizzeria continue to accost Sal, recalling numerous unnecessary deaths that were caused by police brutality. As Da Mayor tries to stop them all from arguing, Mookie grabs a trash can and throws it through the window of the pizzeria, inciting a riot in which the shop is destroyed. Smiley starts a fire, and everyone runs as the pizzeria burns down. The rioters then target Sonny and Kim’s convenience store, but Sonny pleads that he is a minority just like them, and they back off. A fire truck and several police cars arrive, but when onlookers refuse to move, firemen drive them away with high-pressured water hoses. Mookie and Jade watch in horror, and Mother Sister cries out, prompting Da Mayor to embrace her. Inside the smoldering building, Smiley puts one of his pictures of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X on the Wall of Fame. The next morning, Mookie finds Sal outside the burned-out shop, crying about having built the pizzeria with his own hands. Angry that Mookie betrayed him, Sal pays Mookie twice what he is owed, throwing the bills at him one at a time. Taking the money, Mookie says he must go see his son and walks away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.