Classic Review – Mean Streets (1973)


Review by Eddie on 5/6/2013

Director – Martin Scorsese

Cast – Harvey Keital, Robert De Niro

Plot – Small time crook Charlie struggles to find his place in the “Mean Streets” of little Italy. His travails include those of his good for nothing friend Johnny Boy, whose growing gambling debts may just be the undoing of them both.

“You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home.”

Martin Scorsese today is one of the most influential and respected directors to be working in the industry. His name has become synonymous with sprawling crime films from the revered Goodfellas to current HBO series Boardwalk Empire. To see where it all started there is no better place to begin than his first collaboration with De Niro, Mean Streets.

Made on a meagre budget of $500,000 in 1973, Mean Streets in all its gritty and grainy quality shows us to this day just how original and how immersed Scorsese was with the crime Genre. Scorsese grew up in the “mean” streets of Little Italy giving him a perfect insight into the life and times of the New York suburb.

The plot of Mean Streets is quite slight by Scorsese’s now lofty standards but the story of Charlie (Keital) and Johnny Boy (De Niro) gives the director enough chance to fit in some classic fight scenes, some of his now trade mark uses of the Rolling Stones and the beginning of his love for the tracking shot, no better highlighted than in the bar room scenes where Scorsese really makes the audience feel like a fly on the wall in this foreign mob ruled world.

Mean Streets is a real product of its time, a true snapshot of a world that Scorsese knew as his own. All fans of Marty owe themselves a viewing of Mean Streets and all lovers of film will find much to admire.

Mean Streets production may be as rough as the streets it portrays but building blocks of Scorsese’s long and illustrious career are here for all to see. For all film lovers this should be reason enough alone to chase this down.

4 out of 5 Rolling Stones songs.

4 responses to “Classic Review – Mean Streets (1973)

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