Video by PBS NewsHour
Film director Spike Lee’s knowledge of film history is deep, and he is no stranger to sharing his lists of must-see movies for aspiring filmmakers.
Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown spoke with Lee ahead of the release of “Chi-Raq,” a modern reimagining of the Ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata” set in modern-day Chicago neighborhoods rattled by gang violence. The NewsHour will air the full interview on tonight’s broadcast, the same day of the film’s release, but we also asked the influential filmmaker and New York University professor to recommend three films to see right now.
1. “The Battle of Algiers” (1966)
Lee comes right out of the gate with a suggestion to watch this political film about the Algerian fight for independence from France in the 1950s.
“Look at [the film ‘The Battle of Algiers’] and look at what’s happening in Paris,” Lee said. People think what’s happening is new but it isn’t, he said.
The film was once banned in France for five years.
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2. “A Face in the Crowd” (1957)
Thanks to the ambitions of a young radio producer, a repugnant and increasingly amoral drunk and womanizer rises in the ranks of radio and TV stardom.
“It really had the crystal ball on everything that’s happening today in America, especially the media,” Lee said.
Watch Andy Griffith of aw-shucks Sheriff Andy Taylor fame make his film debut as one of film’s odious villains.
Video by YouTube user UsefulClips
3. “Ace in the Hole” (1951)
A disgraced newspaperman exploits a local story of a man trapped in a cave to revitalize his career.
The movie’s “about what people do when they lay down and pray before the almighty dollar,” Lee said.
“Kirk Douglas is tremendous in that film,” he added.
Listen to how Douglas, in character, says, “And if there’s no news, I’ll go out and bite a dog.”
Video by YouTube user Movieclips
The NewsHour will air chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s interview with Spike Lee on tonight’s broadcast.