Jungle Fever

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Jungle Fever
File:Jungle Fever film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Spike Lee
Produced by Spike Lee
Written by Spike Lee
Starring Wesley Snipes
Annabella Sciorra
Spike Lee
Ossie Davis
Ruby Dee
Samuel L. Jackson
Lonette McKee
John Turturro
Frank Vincent
Anthony Quinn
Music by Terence Blanchard (score)
Stevie Wonder (songs)
Cinematography Ernest Dickerson
Edited by Sam Pollard
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • June 7, 1991 (1991-06-07)
Running time
132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million
Box office $43,882,682

Jungle Fever is a 1991 American romance drama film written, produced, and directed by Spike Lee, starring Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra. It was Lee's fifth feature-length film. The film mainly explores interracial relationships against the urban backdrop of the streets of 1990s New York City.


Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes), a successful and happily married architect from Harlem, makes love to his wife, Drew (Lonette McKee). At work, he discovers that an Italian-American woman named Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra) has been hired as a temporary. Flipper tells his partners Jerry (Tim Robbins) and Leslie (Brad Dourif) that he wanted an African American secretary; they tell him that they want "the best human being for the job", no matter if the person is white or black.

Flipper returns home after visiting his friend Cyrus (Spike Lee). Meanwhile, Angie returns to her Bensonhurst home, and cooks dinner for her father, Mike (Frank Vincent), and her two brothers, Charlie (David Dundara) and Jimmy (Michael Imperioli). Her boyfriend, Paulie (John Turturro), then takes her out on a date. One night, Flipper and Angie are working late at the firm, and they have a conversation about cooking. They continue to work together; enjoying an easy rapport and finding themselves enjoying their company, the two eventually have sex.

Sometime later, Flipper tells Jerry and Leslie that he wants to be made partner at their firm. After his request for promotion is declined, he abruptly quits his job in protest. Later that night at the park, Flipper admits his infidelity to Cyrus while taking a walk with him, who tells him the affair is problematic not only because Angie is white while he is black, but also because she is from Bensonhurst while he is from Harlem.

Later, Flipper's brother Gator (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up with his girlfriend, Vivian (Halle Berry). He asks Flipper for money to support his crack habit. Flipper gives in eventually to his brother's demands. Meanwhile, Angie tells her girlfriends that she is seeing Flipper, shocking them when she tells them he is African American. She then swears them to secrecy, but her friends cannot keep it to themselves and tell a number of people, one of whom is Angie's brother Charlie who then tells his father Mike.

The next evening Flipper and Angie are ignored by the staff at a restaurant for being together. He complains to a black waitress (Queen Latifah); she in turn berates him for dating a white woman, showing off their racism. Drew later discovers their affair and angrily throws Flipper out of the house. Flipper is forced to move back in with his mother, Lucinda (Ruby Dee), and his father, the Good Reverend Doctor (Ossie Davis).

Flipper later confronts Cyrus for betraying him. Cyrus admits he told his wife Vera (Veronica Webb), but did not know she told Drew (plus several other people). Flipper confronts and insults Vera, causing a rift in his friendship with Cyrus who stands beside his wife. Flipper tries to make things up to Drew by bringing her flowers, which she refuses. Meanwhile, Angie ends her relationship with Paulie. When Mike finds out about her tryst with a black man, he violently beats Angie and throws her out of his house.

Flipper and Angie move in together. The two encounter social problems, including a failed dinner with Flipper's parents, who don't approve it. Later, as they are walking down the street, the couple engages in horseplay and Flipper playfully throws Angie onto the hood of a car; two police officers arrive and, thinking he is raping her, draw their weapons. They stand down after Angie tells them that Flipper is her boyfriend and threatens to complain. This move angers Flipper.

Paulie attempts to start a relationship with an African American woman called Orin Goode (Tyra Ferrell), but encounters problems. Lucinda has Flipper visit and informs him that Gator has taken the television. She wants him to try and get it back before the Good Reverend Doctor comes home. Flipper finds Gator and Vivian at a crack house. Gator tells Flipper that he pawned the television. After slapping Vivian, Flipper tells Gator that he is cutting him off for good and leaves.

Eventually, racial and financial issues strain the relationship between Flipper and Angie so much so that they break up. Paulie convinces Orin to date him which results in conflict with his father and several neighborhood toughs. One night, Gator storms into his parents' house while the Reverend is away, demanding money. The Reverend arrives and the two argue. Gator refuses to leave and mocks his father. The Reverend shoots Gator in the stomach. Gator dies of his wounds, and The Reverend is arrested.

Angie eventually returns home. Flipper attempts to reconcile with Drew. After having sex with him, Drew, still hurt, tells Flipper it is best for him to leave. While walking down a street with his daughter, Flipper has a vision of her morphing into a prostitute he'd seen earlier. Flipper, in sharp response, hugs her and screams "No!"


Production notes

Before the opening credits begin, a dedication to Yusuf Hawkins is shown, who was killed on August 23, 1989, in Bensonhurst, New York, by neighborhood folk who believed the youth was involved with a white girl in the neighborhood, though he was actually in the neighborhood to inquire about a used car for sale.


The film gained mostly positive reviews, with particular praise for Samuel L. Jackson's performance as crack addict Gator, which is often considered to be his breakout role.[3][4][5][6]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 81% on based on 38 "Fresh" reviews and 9 "Rotten" ones.[7]




  1. "Jungle Fever". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Williams, Lena (1991-06-09). "UP AND COMING; Samuel L. Jackson: Out of Lee's 'Jungle,' Into the Limelight". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Spike Lee Cools Off but His 'Fever' Doesn't". The Los Angeles Times. 1991-05-17. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Freedman, Samuel G. (1991-06-02). "FILM; Love and Hate in Black and White". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Spike Lee's 'Jungle Fever' seethes with realities of interracial relationships". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Jungle Fever". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Jungle Fever". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-01-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Festival de Cannes: Jungle Fever". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links