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Summer of Sam

Director: Spike Lee Run Time: 142 min. Format: 35mm Rating: R Release Year: 1999

Starring: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Anthony LaPaglia, Bebe Neuwirth

Spike Lee brings us another sweltering summer that radiates from the screen with SUMMER OF SAM.

This time around, we are dropped into the Morris Park and Throggs Neck sections of the Bronx in 1977 during the Son of Sam murders. The screenplay, penned by Spike, frequent collaborator Michael Imperioli, and actor Victor Colicchio, zeroes in on two childhood friends named Vinnie (John Leguizamo in a role that’s part sexy, part disgusting) and Ritchie (Adrien Brody in a very authentic performance) whose lives begin to explode as the serial murders take place. Vinnie can’t seem to control his two (sometimes three) timing ways, and Ritchie’s dive into the world of punk rock makes his prejudiced friends and family very uneasy and suspicious as the whole neighborhood tries to figure out who is behind all of the murders.

Another underrated gem in Spike’s filmography, SUMMER OF SAM excellently captures White panic and paranoia in a “Scorsese”-esque film that no doubt made many White critics and audience members uncomfortable with its stark accuracy. The mob of White men near the end of this film is more frightening than any protest the studio heads imagined that DO THE RIGHT THING would inspire.