Mean Streets

Mean Streets
Mean Streets
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Produced by Martin Scorsese
Jonathan Taplin
Written by Screenplay:
Martin Scorsese
Mardik Martin
Martin Scorsese
Narrated by Martin Scorsese
Starring Harvey Keitel
Robert De Niro
David Proval
Amy Robinson
Richard Romanus
Cesare Danova
Cinematography Kent L. Wakefield
Editing by Sidney Levin
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) October 14, 1973
Running time 112 min.
Country United States
Language English, Italian
Budget US$500,000 (est.)

Mean Streets is a 1973 drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Scorsese and Mardik Martin. The film stars Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. It was released by Warner Bros. on October 2, 1973. De Niro won the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as John "Johnny Boy" Civello.

In 1997, Mean Streets was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."



Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a young Italian-American man who is trying to move up in the local New York mafia but is hampered by his feeling of responsibility towards his reckless friend, Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), a small-time gambler who owes money to many loan sharks. Charlie works for his uncle, Giovanni (Cesare Danova), the local caporegime, mostly collecting debts. He is also having a hidden affair with Johnny Boy's cousin, Teresa (Amy Robinson), who has epilepsy and is ostracized because of her condition — especially by Charlie's uncle. Charlie is torn between his devout Catholicism and his mafia ambitions. As the film progresses, Johnny becomes increasingly self-destructive, growing continually more disrespectful of his creditors. Failing to receive redemption in the church, Charlie seeks it through sacrificing himself on Johnny's behalf. At a bar, a local loan shark named Michael (Richard Romanus), comes looking for Johnny to "pay up"; but to his surprise, Johnny insults him calling him a "jerkoff". The loan shark lunges at Johnny who retaliates by pulling a gun on him. Charlie and Johnny flee from the scene with Teresa and are pursued by the loan shark and his henchman, who shoots Charlie in the hand and Johnny in the neck, causing the car to crash. The film ends with an ambulance arriving at the scene and paramedics taking them away.



Apart from his student film project Who's That Knocking at My Door and Boxcar Bertha, a directing project given him by early independent maverick Roger Corman, this was Scorsese's first feature film of his own design. Director John Cassavetes told him after he completed Boxcar Bertha: "You’ve just spent a year of your life making a piece of shit." This inspired Scorsese to make a film about his own experiences.[1] Mean Streets was based on actual events Scorsese saw almost regularly while growing up in Little Italy.

The screenplay for the movie initially began as a continuation of the characters in Who's That Knocking. Scorsese changed the title from Season of the Witch to Mean Streets, a reference to Raymond Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder", where he writes, "But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid." Scorsese sent the script to Corman, who agreed to back the film if all the characters were black. Scorsese was anxious to make the film so he considered this option, but actress Verna Bloom arranged a meeting with potential financial backer, Jonathan Taplin, who was the road manager for the musical group, The Band. Taplin liked the script and was willing to raise the $300,000 budget that Scorsese wanted if Corman promised, in writing, to distribute the film.

According to Scorsese, the first draft of Mean Streets focused on Charlie's religious conflict and its effect on his worldview. Along with fellow writer Mardik Martin, Scorsese wrote the whole script while driving around Little Italy in Martin's car. They would find a spot in the neighborhood to park and begin writing, all the while immersed in the sights, and sounds of what would eventually appear on-screen.

Once the financing was in place, Scorsese began to recruit his cast. De Niro had met the director in 1972 and liked what he had seen in Who's That Knocking at My Door. De Niro was impressed with how the film had so accurately captured life in Little Italy; De Niro had grown up on Bleecker Street, the northern boundary of Little Italy at the time. Scorsese offered the actor four different roles, but he could not decide which one he wanted to portray. After another actor dropped out of the project, Scorsese cast Harvey Keitel in the pivotal role of Charlie. Keitel was also responsible for convincing De Niro to play Johnny Boy[citation needed]. Scorsese himself plays the gunman who shoots at Charlie and Johnny Boy from Michael's car.


The film was well received by most critics; some even hailed it as one of the most original American films of all time. Pauline Kael was among the most enthusiastic critics; she called it "a true original, and a triumph of personal filmmaking" and "dizzyingly sensual".[2] Other critics like Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader said "the acting and editing have such original, tumultuous force that the picture is completely gripping".[3] Vincent Canby of the New York Times reflected that "no matter how bleak the milieu, no matter how heartbreaking the narrative, some films are so thoroughly, beautifully realized they have a kind of tonic effect that has no relation to the subject matter".[4] One of Scorsese's most consistent supporters, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that "In countless ways, right down to the detail of modern TV crime shows, Mean Streets is one of the source points of modern movies."[5] Time Out magazine called it "One of the best American films of the decade".[6] Currently the movie has a 98% "certified fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 45 reviews.[7]

Home video releases

Mean Streets was released on Blu-ray for the first time on April 6, 2011 in France.[8]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mean Streets — Données clés Réalisation Martin Scorsese Scénario Martin Scorsese Mardik Martin Acteurs principaux Harvey Keitel Robert De Niro David Proval Amy Robinson Richard Romanus Cesare Danova …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mean Streets — Título Malas calles (España) Calles peligrosas Calles salvajes (Hispanoamérica) Ficha técnica Dirección Martin Scorsese Producción Martin Scorsese Jonathan T. Taplin …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mean Streets —    Drame de Martin Scorsese, avec Robert De Niro (Johnny Boy), Harvey Keitel (Charlie), David Proval (Tony), Amy Robinson (Teresa), Richard Romanus (Michael), Martin Scorsese (Shorty).   Scénario: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin   Photographie:… …   Dictionnaire mondial des Films

  • mean streets — plural n. an area of a city where the poor or socially deprived live or work, or an area that is noted for violence and crime the mean streets of the South Bronx * * * Mean Streets [Mean Streets] a US film (1973) that made stars of Martin… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mean Streets — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Hexenkessel Originaltitel: Mean Streets Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1973 Länge: 110 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mean streets — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Hexenkessel Originaltitel: Mean Streets Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1973 Länge: 110 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mean Streets — a US film (1973) that made stars of Martin Scorsese, who wrote and directed it, and the actor Robert De Niro. It is about four youths who meet in Tony’s Bar in the Little Italy district of Manhattan(1). De Niro plays Johnny Boy, a criminal who… …   Universalium

  • Mean Streets (disambiguation) — Mean Streets may refer to: Mean Streets, a 1973 drama film directed by Martin Scorsese Mean Streets (Bernice Summerfield), a 1997 original novel by Terrance Dicks Mean Streets (novel), 2009 anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories Mean… …   Wikipedia

  • Mean Streets (video game) — Mean Streets Developer(s) Access Software Publisher(s) Access Software …   Wikipedia

  • Mean Streets (jeu vidéo) — Mean Streets Éditeur Access Software Développeur Access Software Concepteur Chri …   Wikipédia en Français