Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Do the Right Thing (1989)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Do the Right Thing (1989)

In African-American writer/director Spike Lee's third (and breakout) feature film about racial and social strife on a hot summer day on one block of Brooklyn, NY - a tense time bomb waiting to go off:

  • during the opening credits, Public Enemy's performance of the film's hard-edged anthem and title rap song Fight the Power, accompanied by a heavily-stylized dance sequence
  • the opening scene of velvet-voiced DJ Mister Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson) vehemently waking up the Bed-Stuy neighborhood with his "We Love Radio" sounds provided with the day's forecast: ("This is Mister Senor Love Daddy, your voice of choice. The world's only 12-hour strongman on the air, here on We Love Radio, 108 FM, the last on your dial, but first in your hearts, and that's the truth, Ruth...I have today's forecast for you. Hot! The color for today is black. That's right, black. So you can absorb some of these rays and save that heat for winter. So you wanna get on out there and wear that black and be involved! Also, today's temperature's gonna rise up over 100 degrees. So that's a Jheri curl alert")
  • the scene of a complaint by militant activist neighborhood patron Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito) that there were no pictures of 'brothers' on the "Wall of Fame" -- "Hey, Sal, how come they ain't no brothas on the wall?" - there were only photos of famous white Italian-Americans in the white-operated and owned Italian "Famous Pizzeria" restaurant run by Sal (Oscar-nominated Danny Aiello); this was followed by his demanding attempt to stage a neighborhood boycott of "[Sal's] fat pasta ass"; Sal yelled back: "You're gonna boycott me? You haven't got the balls to boycott me. Here, here's your boycott, up your ass. You've got a boycott"
  • the scenes of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) always accompanied by his gigantic boom box playing Public Enemy and the hip-hop anthem Fight the Power, and his story of LOVE and HATE, illustrated by his two giant-sized gold rings (referencing the film The Night of the Hunter (1950)): ("Let me tell you the story of right hand, left hand. It's a tale of good and evil. HATE! It was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. LOVE! These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand, the hand of LOVE. The story of life is this - Static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, LOVE, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses. The right hand's comin' back. Yeah. He got the left hand on the ropes now. That's right. Yeah. Ooh, it's a devastating right and HATE is hurt. He's down! Ooh, ooh. Left hand, HATE, KO'd by LOVE")
  • the montage sequence of a profane stream of ethnic and racial slur-expletives and insults - with each of the individuals speaking directly to the camera and breaking the 4th wall --
    Mookie (Spike Lee): "You dago, wop, guinea, garlic-breath, pizza-slingin', spaghetti-bendin', Vic Damone, Perry Como, Luciano Pavarotti, solo mio, non-singin' motherf--ker."
    Pino (John Turturro): "You gold-teeth, gold-chain-wearin', fried-chicken-and-biscuit-eatin' monkey, ape, baboon, big thigh, fast-runnin', high-jumpin', spear-chuckin', 360-degree-basketball-dunkin', tit, soon, spade, moulan, yan. Take your f--kin' pizza-piece, and go the f--k back to Africa"
    Stevie (Luis Ramos): "You little slanty-eyed, me-no-speaky-American, own-every-fruit-and-vegetable-stand-in-New-York, bulls--t, Reverend Sun Yung Moon, Summer Olympic '88, Korean kick-boxing son of a bitch"
    Officer Long (Rick Aiello): "You Goya-bean-eating, 15-in-a-car, 30-in-an-apartment, pointy shoes, red-wearin', menudo, mira-mira, Puerto Rican cocksucker. Yeah, you!"
    Sonny (Steve Park): "It's cheap, I got good price for you, Mayor Kochie, 'How I'm doin'?', Chocolate-egg-cream-drinking, bagel-and-lox, B'nai B'rith Jew asshole"
  • the sequence of the dousing of an open convertible by an open fire hydrant, after the Italian-American driver had specifically shouted and threatened at the blacks not to spray him
  • the infamous ice cube melting scene with girlfriend Tina (Rosie Perez), on a hot afternoon when Sal's 25 year-old pizza delivery boy Mookie brought out two trays of ice-cubes and methodically rubbed them over her naked body (forehead, lips, neck, kneecaps, elbows, thighs, and breasts) in full-closeup view, as he worshipped her body parts: (""Thank god for the lips...Thank god for the neck...Thank god for kneecaps...Thank god for elbows...Thank god for thighs...Thank god for the right nipple. Thank god for the left nipple. Ah, she likes, she likes, she likes")
Murder of Radio Raheem
Mookie's Trash-Can Hurling Through Sal's Storefront During Riot
Pizzeria in Flames
  • the tense scenes beginning with Sal's baseball-bat destruction of Raheem's boom box, the brutal choke-hold police murder of Raheem, the apprehension of Buggin' Out, and Mookie's incitement of a riot by hurling a trashcan through Sal's storefront window, causing further racial divide and police brutality, and the burning down of the pizzeria (with fiery flames licking the 'Wall of Fame')
  • the two contradictory quotations about violence and non-violence (from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X) that ended the film, reflecting the two doctrinal strains of belief: peaceful civil disobedience or militancy

"This is Mister Senor Love Daddy" - Today's Forecast

"The Wall of Fame" in Sal's Pizzeria

The Beginning of the Scene of Racial Epithets - Directly Addressed to the Camera

Radio Raheem's (Bill Nunn) LOVE - HATE Rings

Spraying of Convertible

Mookie's (Spike Lee) Girlfriend Tina (Rosie Perez)

Ice-Cube Melting on Tina's Chest

Sal's Destruction of Boom Box


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z