Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #46

Do the Right Thing (dir. Spike Lee, 1989)

06-07 Do the Right Thing

Vibrant, volatile, and controversial, Lee’s tale of bubbling-over racial tensions in Bedford Stuyvesant chooses for its setting that most quintessential of NYC establishments: the pizzeria. Danny Aiello as the Italian business owner, Spike Lee himself as his black employee, and Steve Park as their Korean neighbor, all give strong performances as representatives of the enormous ethnic variety that makes up New York (though, rather than celebrating it, Lee seems to imply that this is a bad thing!). Prescient and on the cutting edge, the film’s climactic scene seems to anticipate the infamous Crown Heights riot of 1991.


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