Sunday, 6 May 2012

Film Review: MEAN STREETS (1973)

Mean Streets - poster Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Martin Scorsese (story/screenplay), Chris Henchy (screenplay)
Running time: 112 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Crime/Drama
USA Release date: 14th October 1973

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 6th May 2012.


This is part of my ongoing mission to try and see all of Martin Scorsese’s films; well at least all the major ones he’s directed. Checking the list on IMDb, this is the eleventh one I’ve seen although not all have been reviewed. I must say even back in 1973 you could see the quality of his filmmaking, although a little raw, it still stands out. I will give you my thoughts after this brief summary.

Mean Streets - 3 A small-time hood, Charlie, is trying to make ends meet on the mean streets of Little Italy in New York. Matters aren’t helped by his best friend Johnny Boy who has run up a debt with Michael, a local moneylender who also happens to be friends with Charlie. Now Charlie is connected, his uncle is quite well up in, shall we say, the local business association and he has plans to bring Charlie into the fold. To add to Charlie’s woes, his girlfriend, Johnny Boy’s cousin Teresa, is putting pressure on him to get an apartment together. As time goes by Johnny proves more and more unreliable and Michael is losing patience with him. Charlie is in the middle but still loyal to his friend Johnny. How’s it gonna resolve itself? Well I guess I had better not tell you that or the Spoiler Police (Local Business Association Division) will be taking me to be fitted with some cement shoes (again).

Mean Streets - 7 The film has a very raw edge to it like many films of the era, I guess it was either an effort to make it feel more realistic or they just didn’t have the budget to make it any better (my money’s on the former). All the performances were excellent with Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy and Harvey Keitel as Charlie taking centre stage. They were ably supported by; David Proval as Tony, Amy Robinson as Teresa, Richard Romanus as Michael and Cesare Danova as Giovanni. Oh and look out for a very brief appearance from David Carradine as a drunk.

Mean Streets - 4 Although the editing is not as slick as in Scorsese’s latter works and some of the scenes seem a bit chaotic, I still really enjoyed this one. I think it is as much for the performances of both De Niro and Keitel as for the way the thing is put together. I must also mention the score, an interesting mix of Italian opera and popular songs of the day makes for some entertaining themes throughout. Over all, although it’s gritty and a little rough at the edges, a highly enjoyable watch… Recommended.

My score: 8.4/10

IMDb Score: 7.5/10 (based on 37,520 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: NO DATA: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 98/100 (based on 47 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 83/100 (based on 49,005 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Mean Streets - 1 FAVOURITE QUOTES:
Giovanni Cappa: This Johnny Boy is like your mister Groppi...a little crazy. It's nice you should help him out because of his family and our family but watch yourself...Don't spoil anything. His whole family has problems...his cousin, the girl who lives next door to you...
Charlie: Teresa.
Giovanni Cappa: ...The one who's sick, right? In the head.
Charlie: No, she's got epilepsy.
Giovanni Cappa: Yeah. That's what I said, sick in the head.

Oscar: Look Charlie, you're a good boy. Will you just tell your uncle that I have nothing. There is nothing to give him. No envelopes with cash inside, no checks, nothing.
Charlie: That bad, huh?
Oscar: I can't make this week's payment and if this keeps up not next week's either.
Charlie: Not next week's either... listen... you tell that to Giovanni, not me.
Oscar: Listen, I should wrap up this place in a ribbon and hand it to him, you know that. I don't need this aggravation. I'm getting old.
Charlie: He'd rather have the loan payed, you know that.

Johnny Boy: 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?

Mean Streets - 8 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)

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