Do The Right Thing (1989)

2h / R / Drama

Mookie (Spike Lee) delivers pizzas for Sal Fragione (Danny Aiello) in the predominantly Black and Puerto Rican neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He and Sal’s younger son, Vito (Richard Edson), are friends, despite the racist reaction of Sal’s older son, Pino (John Tuturro). And on the hottest day of the year, what starts as a customer complaint quickly escalates as tensions between the neighborhood’s diverse residents come to a boiling point.

Even 35 years later, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing is celebrated for its unflinching portrayal of race relations in America and its bold exploration of issues such as police brutality, economic inequality, and cultural identity. The film’s vibrant cinematography, dynamic characters, and evocative soundtrack create a visceral and immersive experience that forces audiences to confront uncomfortable truths about systemic racism and social injustice.

Do The Right Thing has had a profound impact on Black cinema and the broader cultural landscape since its release in 1989, sparking conversations about representation, diversity, and the power of storytelling to provoke social change. Its bold vision and uncompromising honesty paved the way for a new wave of Black filmmakers and artists to explore complex narratives and challenge prevailing stereotypes in mainstream media. As a seminal work in the canon of American cinema, Do The Right Thing continues to resonate with audiences, inspiring dialogue and reflection on the urgent issues of race and inequality that still persist in society today.

Guests are invited to stick around after the screening for a post-show Film Talk and audience Q&A with Rene Rodriguez, a film lecturer and screenwriting instructor at the University of Tampa, as well as a researcher for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

The Summer Classics Movie Series has been presented by Bank of America since 2015. Promotional support for the series is provided by WEDU PBS.