By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 1, 2013 at 2:02PM
Considered by many to be Spike Lee‘s best film to date, Do the Right Thing celebrates its 25th anniversary NEXT year, 2014.
I'm not aware of any special new release that Universal may have planned for the film's 25th birthday, after all, in 2009, they did release a two-disc special edition DVD (and also Blu-ray) set, loaded with extras, to celebrate the film's then 20th anniversary.
So I wouldn't hold my breath.
But if don’t want to wait to find out, and you don't already own the film on DVD/Blu-ray, and you're one of the few who still hasn't seen it (really?), or maybe you don't own it and want to watch it again, you should know that, starting today, Netlifx has added Do The Right Thing to its library of streaming titles!
So if you have a Netflix account, you're only a few clicks away from watching the film that many consider Spike Lee's masterpiece.
By the way, Netflix also added another Spike Lee film to its streaming library today: Clockers - the film that, as Spike himself said back in 1995, when the film was released, he hoped would put a nail in the coffin of so-called "hood movies," which were seemingly all-the-rage in the early 1990s, after the success that was Boyz N The Hood.
So, Do The Right Thing and Clockers, now streaming on Netflix, starting today, for your viewing pleasure.
In light of this news, I thought I'd share this 2009 Los Angeles Times piece by Jason Matloff, in which he writes about the film that, in the year Driving Miss Daisy won best picture, received two Oscar nominations – supporting actor for Danny Aiello who played Sal, the pizzeria owner, and original screenplay for Lee – and that you'll find listed on many Best Movies Of All Time lists. A film which critics thought was so recklessly incendiary that it would cause black audiences to go rioting in the streets.
Matloff conducted two lengthy interviews with the cast and crew of the film, including Lee, in which they discussed the controversy, the on-set tension and the role the movie played in bring Michelle and Barack Obama together.
Here are a few snippets of what Lee had to say:
“Paramount was on track to make the film. Then at the last moment, out of nowhere, they didn’t like the ending. They wanted Mookie and Sal to hug, all happy and upbeat. I wasn’t doing that, so I called up Universal executive Sam Kitt, who I had known from my independent days, and he gave it to Tom Pollock.”
“I wanted Robert De Niro to play Sal. I mean, what young filmmaker wouldn’t want him to star in their film? So I gave him the script and he liked it, but he said it wasn’t for him.”
“Matt Dillon turned down the role of Pino. His agent told him not to do it. Then I saw the film “Five Corners,” in which John Turturro beats a penguin to death and throws his mother out a window. I was like, ‘That’s the guy I want to play Pino.’ ”
“To this day, no person of color has ever asked me why Mookie threw the can through the window. The only people who ask are white.”
“People actually thought that young black Americans would riot across the country because of this film. That’s how crazy it was. It was the furthest thing from my mind because I had faith in my people. But I still feel that some white moviegoers were scared to see it in theaters because they might be filled with crazy black people.”
“It disturbed me how some critics would talk about the loss of property — which is really saying white-owned property — but not the loss of life. “Do the Right Thing” was a litmus test. If in a review, a critic discussed how Sal’s Famous was burned down but didn’t mention anything about Radio Raheem getting killed, it seemed obvious that he or she valued white-owned property more than the life of this young black hoodlum. To me, loss of life outweighs loss of property. You can rebuild a building. I mean, they’re rebuilding New Orleans now but the people that died there are never coming back.”
“I think he is a very smart man, because if he had taken Michelle to see “Driving Miss Daisy,” things would have turned out a whole lot different.”
You can read the full article, including transcriptions of what other members of cast and crew had to say about the movie HERE.
And then go watch the film on Netflix.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, it was almost exactly a year ago when Spike Lee, potentially energized during his stint as director of Mike Tyson's one-man Broadway show, Undisputed Truth, shared in an interview that he was considering bringing Do The Right Thing to Broadway as well, telling Good Morning America on August 6, 2012:
"I'm speaking to Mr James Nederlander about it."
James Nederlander was the producer of Undisputed Truth.
This came up during a conversation about Red Hook Summer, and Spike's upcoming endeavors. Spike added that his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, was encouraging him to do it. So whether the thought originated with her, or with Spike wasn't clear.
Regardless, don't be too surprised if it's suddenly announced that Do The Right Thing is coming to Broadway.
Although, as I said in a previous post, if I were to recommend any of Spike's films for a stage adaptation, it would instead be School Daze... as a musical.