Top 20 Movie Do The Right Thing (1989) ranks 7th in Matt Lynn Digital’s Top 20 Movies in ranked order listing. This critical look at race relations, political issues, urban crime and violence brought film producer, director, writer, and actor Spike Lee an Academy Award nomination for the best writing category for screenplay written directly for the screen.
The film stands as a testament to acknowledging racial tension in a way that speaks with sympathy to the perspectives of many sides. As the Roger Ebert review of Do The Right Thing says
“[Spike Lee] didn’t draw lines or take sides but simply looked with sadness at one racial flashpoint that stood for many others.”
(Spike Lee as Mookie in Do The Right Thing)
Do the Right Thing tells the story of a day in the life of one Brooklyn street. We meet the neighbors and the neighborhood, seeing in small steps how a heated, hot day in the life of a neighborhood looks and feels like. We see the humanity and the frustration as a neighborhood living in bigotry boils over into violence, and the setting of a revenge fire in the face of an unprovoked murder at the hands of the police.
(Love and Hate for Radio Raheem as played by Bill Nunn in Do the Right Thing)
It is the loud music of Radio Raheem’s boom box, in concert with the demands of Buggin Out (played by Giancarlo Esposito) to see African American faces on the wall of Sal’s Pizzeria that ostensibly leads to the film’s resolution. Sal (played by Danny Aiello) takes a bite of hate out of the booming sound of Radio Raheem’s boom box, symbolically answering one form of disrespect (the loudness) with another (property destruction). The pizzeria is destroyed while Raheem loses his life; the inequality of this exchange given that insurance can rebuild a pizzeria is the testimony that speaks loudest.
As Rosie Perez, who played Tina in the film, is quoted as saying in the 20th anniversary DVD for Do the Right Thing:
“I saw the magic of the filmmaking…There’s a science to it. And it’s science, plus love, plus art, plus talent. And that occurred, and that’s why I think this movie is an American classic. I really do. I really do. Hands down. Hands down. Hands down.”
Do the Right Thing is our eighth (8th) ranked film. Twenty-eight years after the initial release, the message of this film still stands up today.
Matt – Saturday, December 9, 2017