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Mean Streets (1973)

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A small-time hood struggles with a moral crisis regarding his friends, family, business, and his conflicting religious beliefs.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3,161 ( 197)
5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Amy Robinson ...
Mario (as Vic Argo)
George Memmoli ...
Lenny Scaletta ...
Murray Moston ...
Oscar (as Murray Mosten)
Boy With Gun
Lois Walden ...
Jewish Girl


The future is set for Tony and Michael - owning a neighbour- hood bar and making deals in the mean streets of New York city's Little Italy. For Charlie, the future is less clearly defined. A small-time hood, he works for his uncle, making collections and reclaiming bad debts. He's probably too nice to succeed. In love with a woman his uncle disapproves of (because of her epilepsy) and a friend of her cousin, Johnny Boy, a near psychotic whose trouble-making threatens them all - he can't reconcile opposing values. A failed attempt to escape (to Brooklyn) moves them all a step closer to a bitter, almost preordained future. Written by Dave Cook <cookd@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets...


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 October 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Season of the Witch  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$32,645 (USA) (13 March 1998)


$32,645 (USA) (13 March 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The voice over narration in the opening of the movie ("You don't make up for your sins in Church; you do it on the street; everything else is bullshit and you know it...") is actually not said by Harvey Keitel (the character we are intended to believe is thinking these thoughts), but director Martin Scorsese. Scorsese felt that using a separate voice to make the distinction between Keitel's thoughts and actions was necessary. Scorsese borrowed this technique from Federico Fellini, who used it in I Vitelloni (1953). See more »


When the group is in the car and the old guy is cleaning the car's windshield, after they pull away, the old guy is nowhere around, although there was no time for him to disappear. See more »


Giovanni Cappa: Honorable men go with honorable men.
See more »


Referenced in Rescue Me: Hell (2006) See more »


By Giuseppe Di Stefano (as Guiseppe de Stefano)
Courtesy of DECCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

For Most Directors This Would Be Their Peak... For Scorsese It's a START!
23 August 2004 | by (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – See all my reviews

MEAN STREETS (4+ outta 5 stars)

Maybe the film doesn't look like so much these days... since most of the story techniques, film stylings and intense performances have been re-done and over-done to the point of cliche... but when I first saw this movie... WHAM! I was blown away! And, now having seen it some half a dozen or more times, I still find it riveting... the dialogue, the camerawork, the way music is utilized... just brilliant! Martin Scorsese directs the first big, big film for Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro... they all did great work here... and, incredibly, got even BETTER as years went by. Keitel plays the good Catholic who feels the need to look out for crazy psycho punk Johnny Boy (DeNiro) who is in debt to every loan shark in town... and shows no signs of paying any of them back. Fabulous quotes galore... most of them laden with profanity: "I f*** you right where you breathe!" "What's a mook?" "You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bulls*** and you know it."

39 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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