Today In Film: Jungle Fever Turns 20
While he may not have voiced them in a way everyone agreed with, Spike Lee‘s diatribes against Tyler Perry‘s film and TV work struck a chord in many of us, especially those who nowadays yearn for more socially explosive plot lines and realistic on-screen characters.
The racial themes Lee’s classic film Jungle Fever—which celebrates 20 years since its release today—explored may not be as electric as they were in 1991 but best believe they continue to this day. Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Quinn and Lee himself starred as New Yorkers divided not only by borough (African-Americans in Harlem, Italian-Americans in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst) but by ethnicity and family ideals.
BET.com summarizes the film’s plot as follows:
The film follows a married Black man who cheated on his wife with an Italian woman at his job. His marriage crumbles, and when the woman’s family finds out she is dating a Black man she is beat up and thrown out of her house. There was also the backstory of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, who played Snipes’ drug-addicted brother. Jackson’s portrayal won him critical acclaim even though he was shunned at the Academy Awards.
The film has grossed almost $44 million to date and launched the careers of many of its stars, including Queen Latifah and Halle Berry.