Still the Right Thing 20 Years Later

Okay, there is probably some mythology here – but I like it. 

According to Spike Lee, when he first met Barack Obama at a fundraiser during Obama’s run for the Senate, Obama let him know that his first date with wife Michelle was to see a showing of “Do The Right Thing”.  And why not?  The summer of 1989 was the perfect time to take in Lee’s release of one of the most honest and telling looks at race relations in this country.

The movie’s simmering plot and violent ending on the hottest day of summer in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn was met with fears by some that its screening would lead to riots in the streets.  Those fears never realized, the movie instead inspired a great deal of candid discussion and is still seen as a classic 20 years later.

The American Film Institute named “Do The Right Thing” as the #96 American movie of all-time in its list of the 100 greatest American movies.  And now comes the requisite 20th Anniversary Edition of the DVD on June 30th, marking exactly 20 years to the date of its theatrical release.

Do The Right Thing

In commemoration of the anniversary, the Los Angeles Times has compiled interviews with key members of the cast and crew to provide a great perspective on the making of the movie and the impressions of those involved on its continued relevance today.

With the gripping and memorable storylines of the movie, it’s easy to forget the impressive cast that brought it to life.  From all-timers like Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, & Samuel L. Jackson to great character actors like Danny Aiello, John Turturro, & Bill Nunn (Radio Raheem) to comedians like Martin Lawrence and the late Robin Harris, the screen is packed with greatness in every scene.  Spike Lee himself as Mookie and Rosie Perez as his girlfriend Tina work perfectly as well.

There are so many clips floating around YouTube (all NSFW) that I’ll let you find them yourself.  But for a little inspiration, check out the (curse-free) original trailer

Anniversaries are good when they remind us of the original attraction.  I can’t wait for the extras on the 20th anniversary edition, but it’s heartening to know that the original still stands the test of time.  And then some.

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~ by acm213 on May 23, 2009.

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