Directed by
Lee, Spike, American, born 1957
Written by
Lee, Spike, American, born 1957
Produced by
Lee, Spike, American, born 1957
Composed by
Lee, Bill, American, born 1928
Subject of
Ross, Monty, American, born 1957
Hicks, Tommy Redmond, born 1962
Bailey, Donna
Smith, Stuart
Long, Horace
Owned by
D.C. Public Library, American, founded 1896
acetate film
Duration: 53 Minutes
Length (Film): 1900 Feet
This film was a part of the Washington D.C. Public Library's circulating 16mm film collection housed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Central Library. The collection is particularly noted for the wide variety of African American and African diaspora content.
An independent film with the title Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads. It consists of a single reel of color 16mm acetate film with optical sound. The film, which is famed director Spike Lee's first feature film, was submitted as his thesis while attending New York University's filmmaking master's program, and features a musical score composed by his father, Bill Lee. It tells the story of a barbershop owner who must decide whether to make a deal with a local gangster in order to keep his shop open.
When Joe (Horace Long), a barbershop owner and numbers game racketeer, robs local gangster Nicholas Lovejoy (Tommy Redmond Hicks), he is tied to cinderblocks and thrown into Manhattan's East River. The barbershop's manager, Zach Homer (Monty Ross) inherits Joe's barbershop after the homicide. However, he struggles to retain customers with the cessation of the illegal numbers game. Concurrently, Ruth (Donna Bailey), Zach's wife, introduces Teapot (Stuart Smith), a local delinquent youth, to her husband and advocates for Homer to employ him in the barbershop.
Later in the film, Mr. Lovejoy's gangsters kidnap and assault Homer while Lovejoy himself coerces him to use the barbershop as a point of sale for the numbers game. At home, Ruth inquiries about Homer's wounds and implores him to diversify the hairstyles he offers at the barbershop or move with her to Atlanta, to which Homer replies that he will do neither. Later that evening, Lovejoy appears at the Homers' residence unannounced and, once again, implores Homer to join the numbers game. After Homer reinstates the numbers game, customers return to the barbershop and business begins booming once again. However, this entrepreneurial success is short lived as Homer, like his predecessor, robs Mr. Lovejoy and attempts to flee with his wife to Atlanta.
Place depicted
Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York City, Kings County, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place made
United States, North and Central America
Collection title
DC Public Library Film Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
sound films
color films (visual works)
feature films
16mm (photographic film size)
Independent films
Urban life
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
© Spike Lee
Permission required for use. Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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