BU Film School

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

FT 540 Reading: Do the Right Thing

Screenplay info
Written by: Spike Lee
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0097216

Synopsis
Mister Señor Love Daddy starts his broadcast. It's hot!

Movie introduces Da Mayor, then Mookie. He counts his money, then wakes up his sister, Jade.

Sal, Pino and Vito open up the pizzeria. Sal -- Pino, sweep out front. Pino -- Vito, sweep out front.

Mookie walks to work, greets Mother Sister. Mother Sister is always watching.

Mookie is late to work. Pino tells him to sweep, but Mookie refuses -- he's paid to deliver pizzas, not sweep. Da Mayor shows up looking for work, and Pino is made to give him the broom. Da Mayor is happy -- once he sweeps, he'll have enough money to go get a bottle of beer.

A group of youths (Cee, Punchy, Ella, Ahmad) are hanging out on a stoop. Radio Raheem, carrying a huge stereo playing loud rap, walkes by. Radio Raheem also passes Mister Señor Love Daddy.

Da Mayor wants to buy a Bud, but there's none left. He berates the Korean clerk before buying another brand. He goes out with a bag and starts to drink. He and Mother Sister exchange words (his honeyed, hers less so).

Carmen berates her daughter, Tina. Tina shuts herself in her room, then talks to her son Hector about his no-good daddy.

The Corner Men (Sweet Dick Willie, Coconut Sid, and ML) are sitting outside. They discuss the polar caps.

Bugging' Out buys a slice at Sal's, and complains about the pizza wall not having any photos of blacks. He argues with Sal, who asks if the latter's a troublemaker, and brings out his Mickey Mantle bat. Mookie gets Buggin' Out out of the store. Sal: "I know this is America, but I don't want no trouble."

Mookie is on the way to deliver a pizza. Da Mayor gives him a word of advice: always try to do the right thing. Mookie delivers his pizza, only gets $1 tip.

Jade combs Mother Sister's hair. Da Mayor makes a nice comment, but Mother Sister won't have any of it.

Montage of people dealing with the heat (showers, fridges, newspaper headlines).

The youths turn on a johnny pump. Folks play in the water. They block water for Raheem, but not for Charlie in a white convertible. Youths run. Cops come, turn off the water, warn against it being turned back on. Charlie wants to press charges, but no one will say who's responsible. The cops warn him to leave (there's no telling what these people will do). They drop some more racial insults, then go.

Vito and Mookie deliver food to Mister Señor Love Daddy. Mookie tells Vito to stand up to Pino.

Puerto Ricans are hanging out on a stoop, listening to salsa on a car radio. Radio Raheem comes by, and there's a standoff between his rap and their salsa. Eventually he walks on, and the Puerto Ricans hurl curses and insults after him.

Clifton, a white guy, accidentally steps on Buggin' Out's Air Jordans. Buggin' Out and others confront him. "Who told you to be in my neighborhood?"

Pino gives Vito shit. Despite Mookie's encouragement, Vito doesn't talk back.

Cops drive by the Corner Men, saying what a waste. The Corner Men complain about the Korean store. Then one goes to give them some more business.

Da Mayor sends a passing boy, Eddie, to the store. Youths hassle Da Mayor, but he tells them off.

Mookie is on the pizzeria phone with Tina, who's complaining about not having seen him in four days. Pino: "How come you niggers are so stupid?" Mookie, Pino debate -- all of Pino's favorite people (Magic Johnson, Prince, Eddie Murphy) are black, but Pino says they're more than black.

Racial montage: Mookie (Italians), Pino (blacks), Stevie (Koreans), cop (Puerto Ricans), Korean clerk (Jews).

Mookie asks for his pay, but Sal says he won't get it until closing. Mookie talks to Radio Raheem, who explains about his brass knuckles of Love and Hate. "One hand is always fighting the other."

Radio Raheem is in the pizzeria, trying to order a slice. Sal refuses to do anything until the rap's turned off. After a few tense moments, Radio Raheem complies.

Mookie goes home to take a shower. Jade lectures him about his responsibilities.

Montage of people sitting, dealing with the heat.

Sal is tired. Pino tells him they should sell the place and move back to their own neighborhood. "I don't wanna be here, they don't want us here." Sal retorts that "I've never had no trouble with dese people, don't want none either. So don't start none."

Buggin' Out tries to organize a boycott of Sal's, but gets laughed at and put off.

Jade escorts Mookie back to work. Sal starts criticizing Mookie, but his mood changes as soon as he sees Jade (who'd hung back a bit to talk to Buggin' Out). Sal makes her a special slice. Neither Mookie nor Pino like this.

Radio Raheem tries to buy batteries for his radio, and has a mini-war of words with the Korean clerk.

Da Mayor tries to give flowers to Mother Sister, who completely ignores him. "Stink overpowers everything, especially soft sweet smells like flowers."

The Corner Men banter. "Never too hot, never too cold for fucking."

Eddie runs after an ice cream truck. Da Mayor saves him from a speeding car.

Mookie tells Jade not to come in Sal's. She doesn't take it well. "Mookie, you can hardly pay your rent and you're gonna tell me what to do."

Mister Señor Love Daddy's love line.

Mother Sister speaks cordially to Da Mayor -- just wanted to thank him. Doesn't change anything, though.

Mookie tells Sal to leave his sister alone, but Sal says he has no idea what Mookie is talking about. He gives Mookie a pizza to deliver to Tina's apartment. (She called since it was the only way to get him over there.) She says it's too hot to make love, but he gets some ice trays from the fridge and proves her wrong.

Cops get pizza from Sal's. Mookie arrives, making excuses, which makes Sal a little suspicious since he hadn't said anything about Mookie being late. Pino to Vito: don't trust Mookie, Pop's already taken in. Vito to Pino: "You don't listen, but Mookie does."

Hottest night of the year montage.

Radio Raheem agrees to join Buggin' Out's boycott.

Pino, Vito, and Mookie are all horrified at the prospect of working for Sal's (or Sal's & Sons) for the rest of their lives. The youths enter and buy four slices. Buggin' Out and Radio Raheem, stereo blasting, come in. "Turn that JUNGLE MUSIC off. We ain't in Africa." Sal smashes the radio with his bat. Radio Raheem starts to choke Sal. Vito, Pino, and Bugging' Out join the fray. Mookie watches, the youths cheer.

The fighters end up on the sidewalk, attracting onlookers. Cops appear, grab Buggin' Out and cuff him. They put a chokehold on Radio Raheem, who dies. Cops leave with Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out. The crowd becomes a mob. Mookie leaves Sal and his two sons. Da Mayor tries to calm people down, but they call him an Uncle Tom.

Mookie hurls a garbage can into the pizzeria window. All hell breaks loose. Da Mayor grabs Sal, Pino and Vito and drags them away to safety. The mob storms into the pizzeria, break things, and set it on fire. They move toward the Korean store, but the clerk stands in front and tries to fend them off with a broom. "Me no white. Me black." Amused, the Corner Men say to leave him be, and the mob does.

The mob watches the pizzeria burning. Cops come and warn them several times to disperse, to go back home. Mookie: "This is our home." The cops turn hoses on the mob. Smiley pins Malcolm X / MLK card on the Wall of Fame.

The day after, there is broken glass everywhere. Mister Señor Love Daddy: "Are we gonna live together?" The weather -- again, hot!

Mookie wakes up in Tina's bedroom. Despite her protests, he leaves -- going to get his money.

Da Mayor wakes up in Mother Sister's bedroom. "We're still standing."

Mookie goes to the pizzeria and finds Sal looking at the wreckage. Mookie wants to get paid, even though the window cost more than his wages. They argue. Sal throws $500 at Mookie. Mookie throws $200 back at Sal. There's a stalemate. Sal asks what Mookie's going to do. "Make dat money. Get paid." Sal says he'll take the day off, go to the beach (first time in 15 years). Sal tells him to do the right thing. Mookie takes the $200.

The block begins to wake up -- to another hottest day of the year.

My notes
-- chronological. Sort of a day in the life thing.
-- shooting script. Detailed camera directions.
-- also director's notes: "The infamous Michael Stewart chokehold." Quite a bit of editorializing.
-- environment. Temperature hot, tensions high. Shots of sun, people trying to cope with weather.
-- ensemble story
-- no clear-cut winner. Sal loses, Raheem loses, Mookie gets $ but is out of a job. Ambiguity -- racism is wrong, but no one person is right. No feeling that things will improve or even be resolved.

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