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Do the Right Thing (1989) Poster

Trivia

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. Robert De Niro's photo is one of the pictures that appear on Sal's "Wall of Fame."
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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.
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Spike Lee wrote the script in two weeks.
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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.
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All of the scenes of the corner men (Robin Harris, Paul Benjamin, and Frankie Faison) were improvised.
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Feature film debut of Martin Lawrence (Cee).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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).
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The title comes from a Malcolm X quotation that goes, "You've got to do the right thing."
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Laurence Fishburne was offered, but turned down the role of Radio Raheem.
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The word "fu-ck" is used approximately two hundred forty times in this film, an average rate of two per minute.
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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.
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Radio Raheem's explanation of the love and hate rings he wears, is an homage to the speech that The Preacher gave in The Night of the Hunter (1955). Robert Mitchum's preacher has tattoos on his hands that say "Love" and "Hate".
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Wesley Snipes turned down a role in the film, in order to star in Major League (1989). He teamed up with Writer and Director Spike Lee for Mo' Better Blues (1990), and was the lead in Jungle Fever (1991).
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James Earl Jones was originally offered the role of "Da Mayor", but turned it down in order to make Best of the Best (1989).
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The opening dance sequence with Rosie Perez, was inspired by the opening credit sequence with Ann-Margret, in Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
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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.
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Spike Lee's first choice for the role of Pino was Matt Dillon.
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Spike Lee turned down Tougher Than Leather (1988) to direct this film.
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Spike Lee spent his free time on the set writing the screenplay for Mo' Better Blues (1990).
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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, Moolignan. 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."
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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.
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Rick Aiello, who played Officer Long in the movie, is the real-life son of Danny Aiello, who played Sal.
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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 Pictures, but the studio was worried about the climax, and wanted it toned down. Lee refused, and in the same weekend Paramount Pictures turned the project down, Universal Pictures picked it up for distribution.
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Rick Aiello and Miguel Sandoval, who played Officers Long and Ponte, reprised their roles in Jungle Fever (1991), which was also directed by Spike Lee.
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Director of Photography Ernest R. Dickerson 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.
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The scene in which Sal and Buggin' Out argue about there being no "brothers" (people of the African-American persuasion) on the wall of the restaurant, only "American Italians", is ironic due to the fact that Giancarlo Esposito is half Italian, being that his father is originally from Napoli.
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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 of residents on that block.
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According to the newspaper, the date on the first day is August 5, 1989.
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Delroy Lindo was offered the chance to audition as one of the "Corner Men" but turned it down. Lindo starred in Crooklyn (1994), another Spike Lee joint.
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The opening sequence, which featured the song "Fight The Power", and Rosie Perez dancing, took eight hours to film.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the four hundred movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Features Danny Aiello's only Oscar nominated performance.
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When the Italian-American Pino calls the African-American Mookie a "tutsoon" he's using a Southern Italian slang word, which refers to the blackened wood in a fire pit, or the burnt end of charred stick.
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Joe Mantegna and Joe Pesci were considered for Sal.
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Spike Lee reprised his role as Mookie in Red Hook Summer (2012), also written and directed by Lee.
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