Martin Scorsese

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Mean Streets
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    1. A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television.
    2. A person who behaves in a way that is not genuine.

"Martin Scorsese's best movie...period."
- Paul Page

Mean Streets: Video On Demand: Rent or Buy




    Martin Scorsese, 1973

running time:
    110 minutes. Colour

    Jonathan Taplin

    Scorsese, Mardik Martin

    Kent Wakeford

    Various sources

main cast:
  • Robert De Niro
  • Harvey Keitel
  • David Proval
  • Amy Robinson
  • Richard Romanus
  • Robert Carradine
  • David Carridine
  • Martin Scorsese (as himself as the gunman in the car)

oscar nominations:
  • none

oscar winner best film 1973:
  • The Sting

mean streets



Martin Scorsese is the most gifted and versatile director currently working in the American cinema, one who appears to be influenced far less by commercial considerations than by a desire to make the movies he believes in. This, though, only his third film, is still, I think, his best so far - less disturbing than Taxi Driver, less polished than Goodfellas but exuding a rare sense of honesty and reality.

The story of two young hoodlums (Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel) trying to establish themselves in the lower levels of the New York Mafia is hardly autobiographical but seems to be based on what Scorsese learned and observed as he himself grew up in Little Italy, the stronghold of the Manhatten mob. This is a gangster story without doubt, but even more it's about growing up and adapting in a gangster-dominated environment when people drift into the Mafia because that's all there is, because it's the family business - everyone's family business.

Of the two protagonists Keitel, a collector for his uncle's protection racket, is the realist; De Niro the wild romantic seemingly more influenced by Mafia myth and Mafia movies than by the actuality around him. He is the violent one whom Keitel, a devout Catholic despite everything, tries to protect. This is a doomed couple and, as in all good tragedies, we know that from the start.

The story is strong and unusual, but what makes it special is the beautifully observed setting in which Scorsese has placed it and the utterly credible atmosphere of petty crime, boredom, sudden violence and small, snatched pleasures with which he surrounds his characters. There is nothing mannered or stylised; even the eruptions of violence look natural and almost clumsy and Keitel and De Niro are such convincing small-time losers that we come to feel that this is not so much a work of the imagination as events remembered.


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