With the possible exception of his cable miniseries When the Levees Broke, this 1989 feature is still Spike Lee's best work, chronicling a very hot day on a single block of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, when a series of minor encounters and incidents lead to an explosion of racial violence at an Italian-owned pizzeria. Sharp and knowing, though not always strictly realistic, it manages to give all the characters their due. Bill Lee's wall-to-wall score eventually loses some of its effectiveness, and a few elements (such as the patriarchal roles played by the local drunk and a disc jockey) seem more fanciful than believable. But overall this is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick—funky, entertaining, packed with insight, and political in the best, most responsible sense.
Director: Spike Lee
Producer: Spike Lee
Cast: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, Paul Benjamin, Frankie Faison, Robin Harris, Joie Lee, Samuel Jackson, Roger Smith and John Savage