Mean Streets (Warner) – “You don’t pay for your sins in church. You pay for them on the street. All the rest is bullshit.” It’s not Martin Scorsese’s first movie, but “Mean Streets” (1973) is the first mature Martin Scorsese film: a passionate, energetic, stylistically inventive portrait life on the streets of New York’s Little Italy.
Drawing from the world he knew growing up, Scorsese creates vivid characters in mob collector Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and his unpredictable, violent best friend Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro), a screw-up who threatens Charlie’s hopes of rising in the organization. Scorsese’s barely contained energy (invigorated by a 60s rock soundtrack that was, at the time, a genuinely creative use of popular music to define the mood, describe the culture, and punctuate the drama) drives the loose plot and his rich sense of place and culture gives it a home. David Proval and Richard Romanus complete their neighborhood quartet (Proval, who made a name for himself decades later playing Richie Aprile in “The Sopranos,” is unforgettable in a tender moment with a caged tiger), Amy Robinson plays Charlie’s Jewish girlfriend, and David Carradine, Robert Carradine, Scorsese’s mother Catherine Scorsese, and Martin Scorsese himself make brief appearances.
Features scene-specific commentary by director Martin Scorsese, Martin Mardik, and co-star (and future Scorsese producer) Amy Robinson, with a function that automatically jumps to every scene with commentary, and the vintage making-of featurette “Back on the Block.”