Seventeen years ago today, Universal Pictures released Spike Lee’s eighth and powerful feature film Clockers in 1,208 theaters across America. Clockers was released in the days of the popular urban “gangsta” flick. Spearheaded by 1991′s Boyz N The Hood, Hollywood became infatuated with going to the ‘hood and putting these stories on the big screen. The popularity of 1993′s Menace II Society would boost studios output of these flicks until 1995′s Clockers hit theaters as the answer to those flicks.
Originally to be directed by Martin Scorsese based on the Richard Price novel of the same name, Scorsese made obligations to direct Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci in Casino instead and Spike Lee would helm the project with Scorsese staying on as a producer.
Clockers tells the story of Ronald “Strike” Dunham (Mehki Phifer) as he is a drug pusher selling for a neighborhood drug lord Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo) and the fateful night of a murder that puts himself and his brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) on the spot as suspects. Detective Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) and Larry Mazilli (John Turturro) are the cops on the case while Klein takes a particular interest in figuring out both Ronald and Victor.
Clockers is perhaps one of Spike’s more criminally underrated films. Many bring up Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X, but this is rarely a mention of how great this movie is. The film single handedly shoots down the glorification of violence in urban communities that were displayed in the “gangsta” flicks of the time. The message is solidified with the “No More Packing” billboard prominent in the end scene of the film. The performances (namely that of Keitel and Lindo) are strong and Mehki Phifer shines in his feature film debut as “Strike”.
Clockers should also be noted for its stellar soundtrack, which included the Bruce Hornsby piece “Love Me Still” with vocals by Chaka Khan and “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” which featured Chubb Rock, Jeru the Damaja and O.C. produced by DJ Premier.
Clockers may not be available on Netflix but I highly suggest that you rent the film from YouTube now for $2.99. Make it a movie night… you won’t regret it!