Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have worked together on numerous occasions, but it all started back in 1973 with the cult-classic Mean streets. This low-budget crime movie may have been forgotten by today’s moviegoing cinema folk, but it’s a die-hard classic in every sense of the word …
First and foremost, there’s the acting of legendary actor Harvey Keitel. He plays a sensitive, compassionate man with a strong belief in God and Christianity, and who’s always predispositioned about helping out others … but ends up forgetting about what he wants with his life.
Like future movies directed by Martin Scorsese, the main character of his movies is often a goodhearted but troubled man looking for himself. Harvey Keitel is a more than decent man … he just happens to socialize with the wrong kinds of friends!
One of those friends is played by none other than a very young – yet already quite impressive – Robert De Niro.
De Niro‘s acting is simply outstanding, but in truth: it doesn’t really help that his character often behaves like a total jerk. Still, Robert De Niro gets away with it and delivers one of his finest performances of his career … and that’s saying something!
Finally, there’s the directing of Martin Scorsese which is nothing short of stunning! Sometimes using a wobbly hand camera, to give the impression that some characters are drunk. Other times he gently slides with the camera across the floor under the rock-tunes of a Rolling Stones-song.
And the story, I hear you ask?
Well, the most impressive thing about Mean streets is that it’s such a great movie … when in fact there’s no story at all to tell! We simply follow the day-to-day routine of a couple of Italian-American young men who waste their time with pity crimes.
The movie is different from today’s crime movies. It’s slow, unsteadily filmed and often a bit strange. But underneath that uncommon exterior lies a brilliant little movie …
Did you know?
A young very David Carradine plays the drunk and gets shot in the movie by his half-brother, Robert.
Give it to me short:
Martin Scorsese’s first collaboration with Robert De Niro is in many ways not a perfect movie by far, but definitely a step-up for both men. It would also be the beginning of a very fruitful career and friendship for them, as they would continue to work together in many different movies. Mean streets features many of the classic elements found in later Scorsese-movies too, such as the lone hero in search of himself and the common use of classic filmmaking accompanied by rock music …
Mean streets doesn’t have much of a story, at times it often feels like the camera was rolling and the actors were free to do their stuff without a script. There’s not much going on, besides a very young Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro struggling to find their true purpose in life … but make no mistake … Mean streets is a true American classic movie. It has a brilliant cinematography, first-class acting of Robert De Niro, arguably the best performance you’ll ever see of Harvey Keitel and awesome old ’50s & ’60s rock music to even entertain your ears.