Do the Right Thing (1989) Poster


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Spike Lee originally wanted Robert De Niro for the role of Sal (Salvatore Fragione). But De Niro turned down the part, saying that it was too similar to many of the parts he had played in the past. In the end, the part went to Danny Aiello.
Spike Lee wrote the script in two weeks.
All of the scenes of the corner men (Robin Harris, Paul Benjamin, and Frankie Faison) were improvised.
This film was inspired by an actual incident in New York City, where some black youths were chased out of a pizzeria by some white youths, in a section of New York City, known as Howard Beach.
According to Rosie Perez, her face is not shown in her nude scene, because she felt exploited and was crying. She later decided she didn't mind, and appeared nude again in other movies.
Martin Lawrence's feature film debut.
Graffiti on the wall behind Mookie and Jade reads "Tawana told the truth" in reference to the Tawana Brawley alleged rape and abduction case of 1987.
The title comes from a Malcolm X quotation that goes, "You've got to do the right thing."
The key scene when Danny Aiello and John Turturro talk alone, approximately midway through the film, was partly improvised. The scripted scene ended as the character Smiley approached the window. Everything after that, until the end of the scene, was completely ad-libbed.
Radio Raheem's explanation of the love and hate rings he wears, is an homage to the speech that The Preacher gives in The Night of the Hunter (1955). Robert Mitchum's preacher has tattoos on his hands that say "Love" and "Hate."
According to former President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in New York City, he and First Lady Michelle Obama saw the movie on their first date, in 1989, though they were also planning on seeing Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
Danny Aiello admitted that he almost turned down the part of Sal, when he saw that he'd be playing the owner of a pizzeria, believing it to be a lazy stereotype of Italian-Americans, despite the high number of pizzerias that are owned by Italian-Americans.
Laurence Fishburne was offered, but turned down the role of Love Daddy.
The building Sal's Pizzeria was in did not exist before shooting. Rather, it was constructed on an empty lot by the production company, and subsequently torn down after shooting wrapped.
The word "fuck" is used approximately 240 times in this film, a rate of two a minute.
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #96 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
Wesley Snipes turned down a role in the film, in order to star in Major League (1989). He'd team up with Lee for Mo' Better Blues (1990), and would be the lead in Jungle Fever (1991).
James Earl Jones was originally offered the role of "Da Mayor", but turned it down in order to make Best of the Best (1989).
The character of Smiley was not originally in the script. Roger Guenveur Smith approached Spike Lee requesting a role, and his scenes were added in during shooting.
Spike Lee turned down Tougher Than Leather (1988) to direct this film.
Spike Lee's first choice for the role of Pino was Matt Dillon.
The opening dance sequence with Rosie Perez, was inspired by the opening credit sequence with Ann-Margret, in Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
Director of Photography Ernest Dickinson determined they'd have to shoot on an East-West street in Manhattan, so that the light would be constant on both sides of the street.
Rick Aiello, who played Officer Long in the movie, is the real life son of Danny Aiello, who played Sal.
Spike Lee spent his free time on the set writing the screenplay for Mo' Better Blues (1990).
Ice Cube sampled Pino's "You gold teeth, gold chain wearing, fried chicken and biscuit eating, monkey, ape, baboon, big thigh, fast running, high jumping, spear-chucking, three-hundred-and-sixty-degree basketball dunking, titsun, spade, mulignan. Go the fuck back to Africa. Go the fuck back to Africa. Go the fuck back to Africa..." rant for his 1990 song "Turn Off The Radio."
On both an interview, and the audio commentary for the Criterion DVD of the film, Spike Lee says that the project was originally at Paramount, but the studio was worried about the climax, and wanted it toned down. Lee refused, and in the same weekend Paramount turned the project down, Universal picked it up for distribution.
The scene in which Sal and Buggin Out argue about there being no African-Americans on the wall of the restaurant--only "American Eye-Talians" --is somewhat ironic, as Giancarlo Esposito is half Italian-American.
Rick Aiello and Miguel Sandoval, who played Officers Long and Ponte, would reprise their roles in Jungle Fever (1991), which was also directed by Spike Lee.
According to the newspaper, the date on the first day is August 5, 1989.
The entire shoot took place on one commandeered block in Brooklyn. Extra care was taken, to ensure the experience was palatable to the residents of that block, and the production even hired a couple of residents on that block.
Delroy Lindo was offered the chance to audition as one of the "Corner Men" but turned it down. Lindo would later star in Crooklyn (1994), another Spike Lee joint.
The opening sequence, which featured the song "Fight The Power", and Rosie Perez dancing, took eight hours to film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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After the film's release, an individual blasting loud music from a boombox or an MP3 (including modern-day smartphones) is colloquially known as a Radio Raheem. As life imitating art, a Galveston, Texas artist blocked a patron, who was blasting Donna Summer oldies from a cell phone on the evening of October 8, 2016, during the Galveston Artwalk, where the artist blocked the suspect Facebook profile as an act of retaliation. A phrase, which was used after the MP3 was switched off, was considered a code word for a derogatory racial epithet. The recipient, who was blocked, has claimed it was another case of systemic racial discrimination during the peak season of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the original scripted ending, Sal and Mookie reconcile. Sal, although upset, tells Mookie that he understands that Mookie had to do the right thing. Spike Lee changed the ending during filming, and has never explained why.

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