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Drama - Gangland

Mean Streets (1973)

Duration1h 52m
RatingsUK: X, USA: R, Spain: 18, 
Source of storySaid to be based on the director’s youth in Little Italy, New York
DirectorMartin Scorsese
Writers/ScriptMartin Scorsese, Mardik Martin,
StarringHarvey Keitel, Robert De Nero, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, David Caradine, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.2 by 101,702 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 95% by 62 critics.

Elevator Pitch: Charlie is a young man working for his uncle who is a Mafia boss, collecting debts and protection money. He has a friend Johnny Boy who is a near psychotic constantly at odds with nearly everybody he associates with. And a girlfriend who is Johnny Boy’s cousin and who is isolated from local society because she is an epileptic. Charlie, Johnny Boy and other friends inhabit the twilight world of clubs and bars in their locality sometimes coming up against Michael from whom Johnny Boy has borrowed $2000. Charlie’s uncle has appointed him to take over the running of a restaurant, but also has told him to dump both Teresa and Johnny Boy. Meanwhile Michael becomes more threatening. What to do?

Content: There is nudity and implied sex and a lot of drinking. But the film mainly consists of scenes in a variety of bars and night clubs, one of which has a couple of almost naked dancers performing. Where-ever they go the friends seem to cause trouble and are constantly getting into fights with others, or between themselves. Most of the bars are lit in red, and there is a lot of shouting. Charlie seems to be the only one who ever emerges into the daylight  when he visits his uncle or goes to the church in sort of attempt for absolution. 

A View: Lets say to start with that the critics who reviewed it loved it and it has become a film selected for preservation by the American National Film Registry It is on several critics “Great Movie Lists”, but back in 1973 it did not win any important awards. Some have said how wonderful the soundtrack was, but I hardly recognised any of the songs. Perhaps you have to be American. So in short, it was not a film for me, although interesting as an early Scorsese oeuvre, setting his whole style for the future.

Additional Info: You might wonder what happening to Amy Robinson who I thought did pretty well. She became a producer.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels



  1. Pingback: Once Upon a Time in America (1984) | A MOTION PICTURE LIST - November 15, 2021

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