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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
As Teresa is getting out of bed when she is with Harvey Keitel's character, in one shot the blanket covering her is pulled off nearly completely, yet in the next shot it covers her again, before being pulled off once again. See more »
What's the matter, you too good for this ten dollars? Huh? You too good for it? It's a good ten dollars. Know somethin' Mikey? You make me laugh. You know that?
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Scorsese's first film, the interesting catastrophe "Boxcar Bertha," marked his birth as a director, but it was with his second feature, "Mean Streets" that we witnessed the birth of an artist. Most of "Mean Streets" is slightly unfocused with a simplistic plot based around a lot of machismo grandstanding and long bouts of boring dialog (occasionally made interesting by DeNiro's off-kilter star-making turn as Johnny-Boy), with spats of visceral violence (far less gory here than in later Scorcese pics), and a visual bravado that seems slightly less disciplined but no less entertaining than your standard Scorsese crime flick.
Despite its drawbacks (mainly due to youth and inexperience), the template was set. The opening credits (done to the tune of "Be My Baby") suck you right into the film, and the rest of the movie is peppered with Scorsese's loving treatment of popular music that would later become one of his most endearing hallmarks. The basic premise featuring Harvey Keitel as Charlie (the young hood with a heart of gold and conflicted internally by the religion of the Church and the religion of the Streets), Robert DeNiro as Johnny-Boy (the equally loved and hated loose-canon brother figure), and Amy Robinson as Theresa (the woman our hero wants to put on a pedestal as a saint but often treats like a whore), is a trifecta of archetypes we see repeated again and again in Scorsese's films (most obviously in "Casino" with the DeNiro-Pesci-Stone characters, and most subversively in "The Last Temptation of Christ" with Jesus-Judas-Mary Magdalene). The religious iconography, the brotherhood of crooks, the attraction to the gangster lifestyle, the keen eye for depicting violence in artistic and startling ways...these are displayed here in "Mean Streets" in their rawest form.
Though flawed in many ways, "Mean Streets" set the stage and laid the the template for the type of film Scorsese would perfect seventeen years later with "Goodfellas." This heralded the arrival of a new talent and a new genre, and the world of film has thankfully never been the same.
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