A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.
Robert De Niro,
The future is set for Tony and Michael - owning a neighbourhood 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>
I was never clear at just why Harvey Keitel was putting himself out on a limb for Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets. Sure he's taken with DeNiro's cousin Amy Robinson still I'm not sure he was worth the effort.
Keitel is a small time hood in Manhattan's Little Italy who's not really into it. DeNiro is another small time hood but he's completely and psychotically out of control. He's borrowed a few grand from local loan shark Robert Romanus and Romanus wants his money. Now during the climax scene DeNiro does ask a relevant question, why after he has borrowed and stiffed everyone in the neighborhood would you lend him any money?
In fact Keitel is all that's standing between DeNiro and gangster retribution. Is it all worth it even for Amy Robinson who is an epileptic and for some reason Keitel's uncle Cesare Danova thinks that disqualifies her as a potential bride.
The story is a bit muddled but the characters especially Keitel and DeNiro are unforgettable. Mean Streets made the career of both of them and of director Martin Scorsese. Keitel has become a valued character player and DeNiro a star with an astonishing variety of roles. In fact next to John Ford/John Wayne, Martin Scorsese/Robert DeNiro is probably the most successful director/player combination in film history.
This must have been a labor of love since Martin Scorsese grew up in Little Italy grown a lot smaller since he was a kid there. No doubt Keitel, DeNiro and the rest are drawn from characters he knew. His mom Catherine Scorsese also makes an appearance as she does in many of her son's works.
I don't think Mean Streets ranks up there with Casino, The Departed, The Aviator and Goodfellas, but it's an interesting work.
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