Mean Streets

WELCOME… BUT DON’T BREAK THE RULES!

Charlie Cappa (Harvey Keitel) is looking forward to a career in the Mafia with help from his uncle (Cesare Danova), but his relationships with best friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), a perpetual screw-up, and an epileptic girl (Amy Robinson) stand in the way. Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough is considered by many to be one of the greatest films made in the 1970s. It’s a great start anyway, inspired by his upbringing, and containing themes the director would keep revisiting. Primitive, but honest and sort of charming, with a camera, song score and natural presence that draw us into this world. Superior performances by the two leads, especially De Niro as the hopelessly dumb and irresponsible Johnny Boy.

1973-U.S. 110 min. Color. Produced by Jonathan T. Taplin. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin. Cinematography: Kent Wakeford. Cast: Robert De Niro (John ”Johnny Boy” Civello), Harvey Keitel (Charlie Cappa), David Proval (Tony DeVienazo), Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova… Robert Carradine, David Carradine, Martin Scorsese.

Last word: “It was pretty tightly written because I worked on the script for, like, seven years and had 26 days to shoot the picture. I only shot six days and nights in New York. It was a student crew, who were nice kids and everything, but we would blow lights in buildings and have to wait hours; it was sort of an unprofessional situation. One scene we did on Eighth Street, where the guys pick up two gay men and then throw them out of the car, was a nightmare because we had no permits and it was the middle of the night. At the end there was such confusion that, next thing I knew, more than half the coverage was lost. The kids just threw the film away [by mistake]. So I had to cut the scene together with two or three angles.” (Scorsese, The Independent)

 

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