Given that THE WOLVES OF WALL STREET is making waves at the multiplexes, I thought it might be fun to look back at one of Martin Scorsese’s early masterpieces. Renown as the film that began the working relationship between Scorsese and Robert De Niro, MEAN STREETS put the director on the map as the go to man for down and dirty, gritty crime dramas.
All the elements of Scorsese’s signature style are front and center in this tale of the petty minutiae of mobster crime in Little Italy, New York. A pure American film at it’s core.
Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is on his way up through the ranks to become not just a minor thief, but a respected member of the New York crime syndicate. Unfortunately he has a soft spot for his troubled friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) who can’t keep a handle on his gambling debt or his mouth.
When Johnny Boy opening antagonizes the very people that he owes money to, it sets off a wave of violence that threatens to take down Charlie with him. Charlie’s only hope for salvation lies with his girlfriend Teresa (Amy Robinson), but even that is corrupted as the seedy underworld comes looking for their own brand of payback.
MEAN STREETS is a masterwork of 1970’s cinema and set the tone for so many films to follow in its footsteps including Scorsese’s own GOODFELLAS (1990), which traces directly back to it.
This is a MUST SEE MOVIE for any fans of cinema or those curious to see how Scorsese cemented and developed his style over the course of an amazing career that not only spans decades but continues to awe moviegoers today.