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Do the Right Thing (1989) Poster

Trivia

All of the scenes of the corner men (Robin Harris, Paul Benjamin, and Frankie Faison) were improvised.
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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.
The title comes from a Malcolm X quotation that goes, "You've got to do the right thing."
This film was inspired by an actual incident in New York where some black youths were chased out of a pizzeria by some white youths in a section of New York known as Howard Beach.
Martin Lawrence's feature film debut.
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.
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 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.
According to President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in New York, 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).
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.
Radio Raheem's explanation of the love 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."
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.
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.
Rick Aiello who played Officer Long in the movie, is the real life son of Danny Aiello who played Sal.
Wesley Snipes turned down a role in the film in order to star in Major League (1989). He'd team up with Lee for the director's next film, Mo' Better Blues (1990) and would be the lead star 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 opening dance sequence with Rosie Perez was inspired by the opening credit sequence with Ann-Margret in the film Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
Spike Lee's first choice for the role of Pino was Matt Dillon.
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.
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.
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.
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 Italian-American.
On both an interview and the audio commentary 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.
Spike Lee spent his free time on the set writing the screenplay for Mo' Better Blues (1990).
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Delroy Lindo was offered the chance to audition as one of the "Corner Men" but turned it down.
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."
According to the newspaper, the date on the first day is August 5th, 1989
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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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 residents on that block.
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Spoilers 

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 he did.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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