‘Malcolm X’ at 30: Spike Lee Reflects on Winning the Fight to Make His Masterpiece

‘Malcolm X’ at 30: Spike Lee Reflects on Winning the Fight to Make His Masterpiece
Writer, producer, and director Spike Lee came into the 1990s hot. After the critical and commercial triumph of his 1989 masterpiece “Do the Right Thing,” he started the decade with the exquisite jazz film “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990) and kept up the pace with 1991’s provocative, furious, and hilarious “Jungle Fever.” Those three films had all been made for Universal with modest budgets and were all successes relative to those budgets, but for his next movie Lee was ready to go to the mattresses. He took a break from Universal to make a movie at Warner Bros., the studio that held the rights to a project Lee had dreamed of directing since he was a film student: Alex Haley’s “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Lee might not have been ready to take on a film of that scope and ambition when he was at NYU, but in the fall of 1991 he
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