Bowery Boys Movie Club Brooklyn History

Do The Right Thing: Spike Lee’s Brooklyn movie classic gets better with age

We’re sliding into summer AT LAST — ready for great music, hot dancing and breaking into fire hydrants — and so we’ve just released an epic summertime episode of Bowery Boys Movie Club to the general Bowery Boys podcast audience, exploring the 1989 Spike Lee masterpiece Do The Right Thing.

And sticking to the theme of summertime New York City movies — great music, hot dancing, breaking into fire hydrants — the latest episode of the Bowery Boys Movie Club explores the brand new film In The Heights and its rich historical details. An exclusive podcast for those who support us on Patreon.

To listen to that episode and to past Movie Club episodes (discussing Coming To America, Breakfast at Tiffany’sThe WarriorsWhen Harry Met Sally and many other films) become a Patreon supporter today

FIGHT THE POWER! In 1989, director Spike Lee electrified film audiences with Do The Right Thing, documenting a day in the life of one block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn on one of the hottest days of the summer. 

Inspired by both Greek tragedy and actual events in 1980s New York, Lee’s masterpiece observes the racial and ethnic tensions that boil over at an Italian-American owned pizzeria serving a mostly African-American clientele from the neighborhood.

Listen in as Greg and Tom recap the story and explore some of the historical context for the film — the incendiary nature of New York summers, the realistic portrait of everyday life in Brooklyn, and the true-life murders on which Do The Right Thing is based.

Lee has since explored several historical subjects (Malcolm X, blackkklansman, Son of Sam in Summer of Sam) since making Do The Right Thing, but that exquisite marriage of past and present in his films really breaks through here.

And it doesn’t hurt that his cast includes actors that would become some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

This episode is made possible by our supporters on Patreon, and is part of our patron-only series Bowery Boys Movie Club. Join us on Patreon to access all Movie Club episodes, along with other patron-only audio.

Should you watch the movie before you listen to this episode? This podcast can be enjoyed both by those who have seen the film and those who’ve never even heard of it.  

We think our take on Do The Right Thing might inspire you to look for the film’s many fascinating (but easy to overlook) historical details, so if you don’t mind being spoiled on the plot, give it a listen first, then watch the movie! Otherwise, come back to the show after you’ve watched it.

Where can you watch Do The Right Thing? It’s available to rent on all movie streaming services and is free to watch on the new NBC streaming service Peacock. 

The original film trailer:

Images from Do The Right Thing Way (Stuyvesant Street, between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street), photos by Greg Young.

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