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Spike Lee Had Nice Things To Say About Roger Ebert (And Not-So-Nice Things About The ‘Motherf*ckers’ Who Thought ‘Do The Right Thing’ Would Lead To Riots)

Spike Lee remembers the reviews for Do the Right Thing, both good and bad.

While accepting the Ebert Director Award at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, the director gave special acknowledgement to late movie critic Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz, who presented the award with Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins. “Your husband was very crucial [in] my career. He was very crucial, 1989 in Cannes, to Do the Right Thing,” Lee said. “Your husband got behind me because there was motherf*ckers, excuse my language, in the press saying that Do the Right Thing was gonna incite Black people to riot, that this film should not be shown in the United States.”

Ebert gave Do the Right Thing four stars and named it the fourth best film of the 1980s, one spot behind E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

He continued:

“I remember, I know it was a long time ago and you should let some grudges go, but David Denby and Joe Klein wrote articles, New York magazine saying, ‘Hope to God that this film does not open in your neighborhood.’ That this film, Do the Right Thing, will incite Black people to tear sh*t up, to take to the streets like Detroit in ’77 or Newark in 1968. So thank you everyone. Thank Roger because he went to bat for me and many years later, we’re on the right side of history/herstory. Thank you very much.”

Entertainment Weekly reached out to Denby, who said that his review was “not a pan,” that it was “generous and alive,” and he only “objected to something at the end, but I didn’t say the movie was going to start riots.”

There should have been riots when Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture and Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated.

(Via Entertainment Weekly)