Archive of films Mean Streets / Mean Streets

1973, 110 min

Section: New Hollywood
Year: 2007

Impulsive Johnny Civello and his broody cousin Charlie Cappa, along with their likewise dubious pals, hang around New York’s Little Italy with pipe dreams about becoming big-time respected gangsters. Martin Scorsese’s economically, effectively, and briskly shot movie gives a suggestive impression of documentary authenticity while at the same time exuding highly original creative energy.


Impulsive Johnny Civello and his broody cousin Charlie Cappa are reckless kids on a feather-edge with the law. Their days are spent eking it out with their friends in an artificially drawn-out state of noncommittal adolescence, unable to find some kind of meaning in their lives. The one big dream they do have is to become respected gangsters. Will they be able to make their dream come true in the old-style “proper” way, as Charlie imagines it – and will they be able to pay the price that comes with it? Though Martin Scorsese’s feature debut Boxcar Bertha (1972) was more a “b-film”, the director’s first truly individual work was this gangster-flick, played out in his native New York quarter of Little Italy. The economically and briskly shot movie gives a suggestive impression of documentary authenticity, and at the same time exudes highly original creative energy. The semi-autobiographical essence of the tale is attested to by the character of Charlie in particular, played by Harvey Keitel, joined by the energetic performance of another of Scorsese’s core actors, Robert De Niro.

About the director

 Martin Scorsese (b. 1942, Queens, New York City) has maintained his credit as a filmmaker of the classic Hollywood style, though it was not until this year that he was awarded with an Oscar for Best Director for the  drama The Departed (2006). He works within the range of classic genres, be it melodrama (Age of Innocence, 1993), musical (New York, New York, 1977), biography (The Aviator, 2004 or, in its own way, The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988), comedy (The King of Comedy, 1983), or drama (Taxi Driver, 1976, Raging Bull, 1980). His work is pervaded by the question of what value moral imperatives have in a violent, chaotic world where no rules apply; a theme he continued to examine even after Mean Streets (1973) in his other gangster pieces, GoodFellas (1990), Casino (1995) and The Departed.


Hollywood Classics
Suite 31, Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, E14 9XL, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: New Hollywood
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin
Dir. of Photography: Kent Wakeford
Music: Eric Clapton
Editor: Sid Levin
Producer: Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Taplin
Production: Taplin – Perry – Scorsese
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Amy Robinson, David Proval, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova
Contact: Hollywood Classics

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