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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!
'Mean Streets' is, in my opinion, one of Martin Scorsese's best, if not THE best, film he has made. It's the film that established him as a unique film director, and it's an absolute must-buy!
Scorsese's 'Mean Streets' was released in between the two Godfather epics in 1973, and although it shared with the Godfather a passion for Italian-American gangsters, 'Mean...
Published on 8 Mar 2005 by S. Notarangelo

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching .
Its worth watching but is really just typical gangster film with gatherings and meetings and a few kills there and then , if you like de niro which he was good in this you will be inspired to watch but it is really just mean streets thats it the title says it all . Decent watch
Published 21 months ago by juliedilworth


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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, 8 Mar 2005
By 
S. Notarangelo "red10devil" (Bedford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
'Mean Streets' is, in my opinion, one of Martin Scorsese's best, if not THE best, film he has made. It's the film that established him as a unique film director, and it's an absolute must-buy!
Scorsese's 'Mean Streets' was released in between the two Godfather epics in 1973, and although it shared with the Godfather a passion for Italian-American gangsters, 'Mean Streets' went a completely different way and focused on the everyday lives of gangsters when they mess about, get drunk, shoot some pool, etc. Harvey Keitel plays Charlie, a man who has dreams of moving up in the world; his uncle, a big player in the New York underworld, has plans for Charlie, but Charlie is prevented from rising due to his friendship with Johnny Boy, a 'bum' who gets Charlie into a lot of trouble. When Johnny Boy continues to avoid paying a large loan back to Charlie's friend Michael, things take a dramatic turn for the worse...
Everything about this movie is brilliant. The acting, especially Keitel and Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy, is amazing; it's unbelievable to think that the following year De Niro would win an Oscar for playing the young Vito Corleone, a character that is miles apart from the unstable Johnny Boy - his performance clearly shows what a talent De Niro is. Critics have argued that the plot is too weak and thin, yet I believe it's exactly the opposite: the film is rich in detail (a Scorsese trademark), and the movie addresses Charlie's Catholic guilt - he wants to move up in the underworld, but he fears he will be punished in hell if he does not look after the crazy Johnny Boy. Charlie is torn between the Church, Johnny Boy, and his uncle - you can see why 'Mean Streets' is anything BUT thin!
But the main attraction of the film is Scorsese's direction. You can see how 'Goodfellas', 'Pulp Fiction', 'The Sopranos', etc. came about thanks to 'Mean Streets' - it looks gritty, the fight scenes are chaotic, and very rude language dominates the film. And despite its low budget, Scorsese makes the film look very realistic, along with his trademark rock 'n' roll soundtrack scoring the movie.
The film is like a fast rollercoaster; the camera never stops moving, and it's never boring. I would recommend 'Mean Streets' to every Scorsese and gangster fan as well as most film buffs, because not only is it a fantastic movie, but it's one of the most influential movies in American cinema, and I urge you to buy it! NOW!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little taste of near perfection, 12 May 2008
By 
Mr. AJ McIntosh "Gus" (Dublin) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
I can understand why some people would dislike mean streets due to it's lack of plot and structure should they have watched the movie only once. It is, however, the same as passing comment on good music after only listening to it once. Impossible to judge, in my opinion.

Scorsese plays heavily on his childhood in content, introducing the audience to his world through the eyes of four local hoods. There is none of the morals of it's contemporary mafia based film, The Godfather... and none of the thrills and wealth portrayed later by Scorsese in 'Goodfellas'. It is a real world where gun crime is unusual and shocking and violence is sporadic and adrenalin fueled.

The cogs that keep the film moving forward are that of Charlie's questionable faith and his desire to prove himself by helping Johnny Boy free himself from a mountain of debt he has built up with Michael, a small time shark. The centre point for the scenario is a bar owned by Tony, and the four players weave in and out of each others lives with tensions getting more serious and a downfall becoming more inevitable as the film progresses.

Mean Streets is also improvisational comedy at it's best in parts. The relationship between Charlie and Johnny Boy (and the sheer talent of the two leads) allow much unscripted conversation to flow and it leaves you grinning widely, if not full out laughing.

I believe that taste is accountable for most things, and quality comes to a slightly lesser extent. To me, this film has something that I cannot put my finger on that makes it shine brightly. As mentioned before, it demands multiple viewings, but give it a chance... and watch it on the big screen if you're lucky enough to have it shown locally, and you might well discover a film that takes pride of place as your favourite, just as I did.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets.", 31 Jan 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Orson Welles said that a director's first film was always his best because he would put more into it and hadn't got into bad habits like developing a style yet. Mean Streets may not be Scorsese's first film, but it otherwise bears out Welles' words. Set in New York's Little Italy, Harvey Keitel plays Michael, who exists on the fringes of crime and whose dreams of managing a restaurant his money-lending uncle is about to take over are threatened by his affair with his epileptic cousin (Amy Robinson) and his terminally unreliable childhood friend Johnny Boy's pressing debts.

As with Goodfellas, it is plot-lite and style heavy, but where in the latter the style dominated, here it has a rough-cut and ready-dubbed feel that energises the film and accurately reflects the precarious state of the characters, be it financial, mental or moral. All the trademarks are here - the tracking shots down bars, the sudden explosions of violence, a popular music soundtrack that exists as much within the film as over it, the concern with incompatibility of religion with everyday life - but here they are fresh and integral to the film rather than carefully stage-managed.

If De Niro's unstable Johnny Boy now looks a bit too much like barnstorming with many of the tricks he has since pretty much worn out through over-use, Keitel's diplomatic lead and the astonishingly natural performances from the supporting cast are the real glue that holds the film together and convince us we are eavesdropping on real lives.

Filled with astonishing moments Mean Streets remains one of the few key American films of the early Seventies that still grabs your undivided attention with none of its original power diluted by time and imitation.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons why this is my favourite film, 6 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Reasons why this is my favourite film (I've watched it around 30 times in 2 or 3 years):

* It's as authentic as Martin Scorsese ever gets. He lived this film and you get that from the first minute. He also wrote it, which is pretty unusual for a Scorsese film.

* The opening quote: "You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is BS and you know it".

* The opening titles over 1970's family home videos. I love it, and the song too, 'Be my Baby'. Any time you hear that song after watching this film you see Charlie's head hit the pillow and the credits start up. The wall of sound music makes me well up, in a happy way. Note: Martin Scorsese appears (young and sporting a very '70's hairstyle) for a fraction of a second during these. You only see him if you spend five minutes looking for it by using the the pause or slow button on your remote control!

* The end scene (CAR CHASE! YES!). I'm not giving anything away here, but it was a scene that became an influence and source of admiration for many directors for a reason. Unforgettable.

* There's not a speck of filler in this film, even during the laid back moments in bars. It's lean and mean.

* It's also hilarious. People often miss the fact that Scorsese films are rich in humour and often very quotable (e.g. "Mook? I'm a mook? What's a mook? I'll give you mook!" *thump* N.B. A mook is a kind of bigmouth, all talk and no substance).

* The semi-docudrama look. I often prefer this style to high-budget gloss.

* The fact that it's not only a realistic portrayal of gangster life (supposedly, I wouldn't know) but a rich and deeply felt portrayal of a community. The people of this community don't chase violence - violence seems to follow directly after them. Scorsese's dubious glamourisation of thugs, thieves and killers would come later.

* Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro both give excellent performances. De Niro shines in one of his greatest early moments - he just doesn't get more entertaining than this. Keitel proves that he can be both macho and sympathetic, and, importantly, that he can equal De Niro in the acting department. I would actually say that Keitel is the better actor in this movie due to his his understatement. Of course a quieter performance doesn't automatically mean a better one, but here you can tell that De Niro is trying to outdo Keitel through a little overacting. But Keitel's performance, in my opinion, is less manic and more thoughtful, insightful. You sense his guilt and frustration without seeing him explode completely. It's more heartfelt. You feel his pain growing throughout the movie. Having said that, De Niro is still very convincing despite being occasionally over the top and certainly delivers in the entertainment department. 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' indeed.

* 1970's New York. The grime, crime, streets, real people, their experiences, the city at night, atmosphere, mob, clothes, fashions, haircuts, the looks and sounds, Brooklyn Bridge at night, I could go on. It's fascinating and exciting despite (or due to) its being shadowy, sleazy and gritty. I'm 28 years old and British but this film makes me feel like I was there. Remember this quote from Once Upon a Time in America? Noodles: "I like the stink of the streets. It makes me feel good. And I like the smell of it, it opens up my lungs"! (also played by Robert De Niro). You don't just see and hear this film, you can almost breathe it in and choke on the car exhaust fumes.

* The music. Songs by The Rolling Stones are used to great effect, though the whole film is a jukebox of eclectic music from many eras. My favourite: a rare hard-to-find version of 'Steppin' Out' by Cream, played over the car chase. Terrific choice, the electric guitar (Eric Clapton of course) is on fire! And if you enjoy Neapolitan love songs, there are many in this film too. If you don't, you soon will! God I wish they'd make a complete soundtrack compilation of some of these tracks as they already have with other Scorsese movies. As yet I still can't find one anywhere. If anyone has any information on this (outside of searching for individual songs from YouTube) I'd love to know, especially the complete 'Steppin' Out' track. Big Cream fan.

* The classic quotes. "What's da matter wi' me? What's da matter wiCHOO?" Never gets old.

* The use of a live (and rare) rendition of Steppin' Out by Cream over the car chase. Did I say that already? Well, it's great.

* The very last song. It's a corny old Italian/Sicilian tune sung by a group of very patriotic amateurs, and I always find myself listening to it until the end credits are completely finished rolling.

* The Sicilian/Italian American accents.

* It made me want to learn Italian! I did learn Italian. I sucked, but I tried.

* It runs at the pace it wants to, i.e. it can be slow. But this isn't a story you can shoot through like a bullet, it needs your attention if you want to appreciate it at all. If you have attention deficit disorder don't bother. If you want a movie with a quick buildup of pace, a truckload of special effects and sounds that blast at you crudely like insane foghorns, watch Shutter Island or something like it. If you want a good story with engaging and complex characters, watch this - twice at least.

Overall an excellent film for Scorsese admirers, movie buffs, cineastes e.t.c, but also great entertainment for any 'layman'.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Goodfellas, better than The Godfather., 4 Aug 2004
This review is from: Mean Streets [DVD] (DVD)
This is an overlooked and underrated masterpiece from genius Martin Scorsese. Obviously made on a low budget with (at the time)budding actors Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro this is a genuine, gritty and grainy depiction of Italian-American inner city life. The vast majority of the film is set in bars and backrooms or in dark streets and alleys, filmed with a handheld camera that occasionally sways, pursues running characters or makes use of other obscure techniques that sometimes make the film so real that you think you are watching a documentary.
It is the stark realities, the slim budget and the improvisational work and looseness of the plot that makes 'Mean Streets' so shockingly real in tone and much more aggressive and emotional than 'Goodfellas' or 'The Godfather'. The characters are amongst the most evocative and human ever committed to film, they are like real people summoned up from the lives of the director and the actors.
Harvey Keitel is brilliant as Charlie, a young man with power and respect in his neighbourhood, yet also privately troubled by his faith and his conflicting compassionate nature which involves loving his epileptic girlfriend his uncle has forbidden him to see and supporting and helping her irredemable and troublesome cousin Johnny Boy.
De Niro plays Johnny Boy to perfection: laughing, jeering and fighting, really a young man in desperate need of support (which Charlie offers) but ultimately remains the insensitive idiot fool that leads to his downfall. Johnny Boy is the central focus of 'Mean streets', and he is so tempestuous and troubled and so naive and a fabulously watchable character.
It is said 'Mean Streets' lacks a tangible plot but I don't view this as a criticism. The film is an intimate painting of troubled city life that explores a number of very powerful themes in its 2 hrs. What does exist of the plot is a very simple story of unpaid debts and eventual violence, but the setting, the charcters dilemmas and the relationships between the charcaters is what makes the film so fantastically gritty and dangerously real and disturbing. There is vast space for Scorsese to throw in witty, humorous dialogue, extreme character development scenes, a vast music score (alternating between popular music of the time and Italian operetta style) and extreme violence and obscenely good camera work.
'Mean streets' is a college of beautiful scenes and characters, it is violent, touching and funny. The best scene is the improvised piece between Johnny Boy (De Niro) and Charlie (Keitel) five or ten minutes in when they discuss Johnny Boy's debts. Ten times more powerful than the disappointing 'Goodfellas' and 'Raging Bull's' earlier equal. However, I would suggest watching 'Raging Bull', 'Goodfellas' or 'Taxi Driver' to summon up the mainstream essence of Scorsese and De Niro's work before watching this more underground and different film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorsese's Inspirational Breakthrough Picture, 15 April 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Made in 1973 by the fledgling Italian-American director when he was only 31, Mean Streets was Martin Scorsese's breakthrough film. Watching it again for the first time in over 10 years, I was once again caught up in (and touched by) what is probably the man's most personal film, autobiographical hints abounding, as he conjures up an authentic and evocative atmosphere of a 1970s New York Italian-American (criminal) community. Frequently reminiscent of the likes of Fellini's I Vitelloni updated with a modern American urban sensibility, and with hand-held camera dynamics redolent of Cassavetes, Mean Streets stands up very well to the passage of time, establishing what was undoubtedly one of the finest American directors of the era (following this with other outstanding films such as Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, New York New York, Raging Bull and The King Of Comedy).

At the centre of Mean Streets, of course, is the 'brotherly' relationship between Harvey Keitel's Charlie, local (family) mob member, struggling to come to terms with his feelings of (Catholic) guilt ('I'm doing my own penance for my own sins') over his life-style, and Robert De Niro's bravura turn as Charlie's friend the errant, out-of-control Johnny Boy. Scorsese's depiction of this increasingly fractured relationship is simply brilliant (for me, one of the best in cinema), set as it is within the context of 'family loyalty' in 70s New York, where racial groups don't mix (Italians, blacks, Jews, etc) and everything is flares, kipper ties, sideburns and mullet haircuts. For me, Keitel has probably never been better than here, whilst De Niro's performance is a revelation and only bettered (for me) by that in Raging Bull.

Scorsese's choice of music for his soundtrack is throughout one of the most evocative (and apt) ever (with soul and Motown being particularly well-represented), but it is during the film's opening 15 or 20 minutes, which includes The Ronettes' Be My Baby over the film's titles and The Rolling Stones Jumpin' Jack Flash over Johnny Boy's mesmerising slo-mo bar entrance, that Scorsese surpasses himself. Of course, following Johnny Boy's bar entrance is the great (and largely improvised) scene between him and Charlie as they debate whether or not Johnny has made his weekly mob payment.

In addition to Keitel and De Niro, Amy Robinson is also outstanding as Johnny's cousin and Charlie's guilty romantic secret, the self-confident, but epileptic, Teresa, as are each of Richard Romanus as Michael, the cool mobster given the run-around by Johnny Boy, and David Proval as bar room owner, Tony.

Scorsese's film scores by virtue of its authenticity and dynamism - in fact, it does not have a particularly strong narrative. Other than Charlie's relationships with Johnny Boy and Teresa, its storyline focuses on Michael's increasingly frustrated attempts to recover Johnny Boy's unpaid protection money. Instead, it is a series of superb vignettes, which include: a violent pool-room brawl (to the ironic tune of The Marvelettes' Mr Postman, and the hilarious dialogue, 'What's a mook?'); big cats in a cage 'backstage' in Tony's bar; David Carradine's bar-room shooting; cruising in a car with a couple of homosexuals; the dustbin lid fight; Charlie peeping through his fingers at Teresa; a Vietnam vet's homecoming party and a visit to the cinema (to see Vincent Price in Roger Corman's The Tomb Of Ligeia). Oh, and of course a brilliant ending, something of a forerunner to that of Taxi Driver.

On reflection, I guess one of the most ironic things about Mean Streets is that Scorsese did not win (nor was he even nominated) for the directing Oscar for this film. Nor of course did he win for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy or Goodfellas, but instead finally won for the much inferior, 2006's The Departed. That's Hollywood for you!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets, you do it at home., 25 Aug 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mean Streets [DVD] (DVD)
Mean Streets is directed by Martin Scorsese who also co-writes the screenplay with Mardik Martin. It stars Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus and Cesare Danova. Plot finds Keitel as Charlie, a young Italian-American crook trying to work his way up the New York Mafia scene. But his way is blocked by Catholic guilt and his obligation to take care of loose cannon pal Jonny Boy (De Niro), who is in debt to hoods and doesn't seem to care.

A film of significant firsts. It would begin the Scorsese/De Niro relationship that served cinema so well and it laid the foundation for Scorsese's hoodlum filmic empire. Viewing Mean Streets now is an odd experience, for although there are some great things to sample, the piece undeniably seminal in the history of American cinema, it also plays as a pretty straight forward film. There are no surprises in store, the trajectory of characterisations runs true and goes exactly where you expect it too. Had I personally watched it upon release in 1973 I'm sure I would have been a bit more awed, but it very much feels over-rated now, with some critical appraisals of it appearing to pump it up more because of its importance than for any narrative quality.

As Scorsese goes for gritty realism, the story at the core lacks vibrancy. It's only when De Niro (jumping-bean) as borderline nutter Jonny Boy is doing his nutter Jonny Boy thing, does the picture actually perk up. The roll call of characters aren't engaging since they aren't fleshed out, the girl characters are badly written and the key bar-room brawl is very unconvincing. On the outside the picture is ace, opening our eyes to a scuzzy Little Italy, Scorsese a master at portraying an environment he knows so well, but it's all polish with no actual substance underneath. Tech credits are high, camera work, lighting and sound-tracking, all carry the hallmarks of future classics, but these things ultimately avert your gaze from the simplicity walking the streets down below.

Raw and decidedly honest film making, but weighted down by desperately trying to pulse with religious musings, Mean Streets could have been the masterpiece some have made it out to be. It's not, it has weaknesses that we shouldn't be blind too, even if it does showcase some incredible talents that were about to enter the annals of cinema history. 7/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ......" twenty dollars! let's go da movies! "......, 2 Jan 2010
This review is from: Mean Streets (Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Robert Deniro plays a footloose, lazy and irresponsible small-timer who gets into financial bother he can't get out from. Harvey Keitel plays the well-connected and well-liked gangster who tries his best to get Deniro out of trouble.

Mean Streets does not have a constructive storyline; it merely shows events taking place in the life of small time gangsters in New York. It operates in a subtle way, making us aware of something rather than answering questions with regards to issues concerned. Its good to see Deniro in one of his early roles, but the story focuses more on Keitel whose performance is outstanding.

This is an important film for many reasons. This is the first major motion picture from Scorsese, where he introduces his unique style of directing and camera-work, which must have seemed so refreshing at the time of its release. It was far more compelling than anything else made at the time. The documentary style works well in telling a realistic and gritty story, this film-making process became a 70's trademark in years to come. 70's cinema is an important decade in film, as it was a time of social change in America which gave rise to a new breed of talent e.g. Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin etc. Mean Streets sits firmly as one of the first iconic films of that decade (the other is French Connection).

It is also an important film for anyone who is a fan of Scorsese or a serious fan of film itself. The narrative in his future films (Taxi Driver, Casino, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas) is similar to that of Mean Streets, and it's interesting to see that Scorsese carried the same style, but to better effect in his future projects. The fact that his future films are deemed as classics makes Mean Streets even more compelling. Look at it as an experiment; Mean Streets is the basis for Scorsese's future projects, just like Panic in the Needle Park was for Al Pacino. In Mean Streets we get early flashes of genius from the directors' director.

It was also the start of a healthy partnership between Robert Deniro and Scorsese, Deniro's performance is that good it makes you realise why he continued to work with Scorsese, and produce more outstanding films.

The DVD itself does not live up to the title of a `special edition' as it does not have many bonus features at all. The short featurette is the original one made at the time of the films release and shows Scorsese on a personal level, but is far too short in length. The informative commentary remains the only other feature and is worth checking out overall. The most redeeming feature of all is the restored picture and sound quality as it's a vast improvement compared to the films previous release. Although this is not a real feature in itself, it is welcome relief as Mean Streets did require a makeover, and thus anyone thinking of purchasing the film should go for this special edition and not the old release.

In my opinion Scorsese is the greatest director ever. In the last 30 years he has maintained the quality in all his films, and tackled subjects others wouldn't dare. His films are highly personal, oozing with class and kinetic energy. The only other director who comes close is Francis Ford Coppola who made four stunning films in the 70's (Godfather, Godfather Part 2, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation). However since then Coppola has faltered, but Scorsese continued to shine with modern classics such as Goodfellas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Whassamatterwitchoo?", 8 May 2002
By 
R. Burin "royal_film" (Harrogate, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mean Streets [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Though 'Who's That Knocking On My Door' was Scorcese's first picture, it was with this extraordinary movie that we saw the film-maker coming to terms with his craft and his own blossoming genius. The exquisite camerawork and sublime use of music for which the director became renowned are here in abundance, and Scorcese's largely unknown cast [with breakthrough roles for both Harvey Keitel, as a Catholic trying to reconcile his lifestyle and hie religion, and Robert De Niro] are on top form. Too many movie-goers have overlooked this movie, or even criticised it- seeing it plotless or dull, but it's every bit as good as Scorcese's more mainstream movies: 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', and a good deal better than 'Goodfellas'. Cool, thoughtful and funny, this must rate as one of the greatest films of all time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply cracking, 26 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Mean Streets [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A cracking picture which portrays a deadpan study of street life in little Italy. Scorsese has co-penned a sizzling script thats the best in motion picture history while DeNiro makes an impact to a film that turned him into an international star, in his performence as a troubled man who owes a gang some money. Despite the fact that its a vehicle for Deniro and the director, Martin Scorsese! its Harvey Keitels film all the way! performing as a caring, conscientious hood trying to help DeNiro's character while the rest of the cast are simply superb. The cinematography is also very good! ensuring the style of filming summarises the realism of the film, right through to its shattering finale, also it has an excellent soundtrack.
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