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Film: Mean Streets

It's all bullshit except the pain. The pain of hell. The burn from a lighted match increased a million times. Infinite. Now, ya don't fuck around with the infinite. There's no way you do that. The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart... your soul, the spiritual side. And ya know... the worst of the two is the spiritual.
Charlie

'Mean Streets is a 1973 film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Harvey Keitel as Charlie, a morally and spiritually conflicted young mobster, and Robert De Niro as Johnny Boy, his immature and irresponsible best friend.

The film was Scorsese's Breakthrough Hit, establishing him as a major talent and proved to be DeNiro's Star-Making Role. It was seen as the counterpart to The Godfather taking a gritty, down to earth approach to the Italian American mob showing them without the Affably Evil stylizations of that film. Much of what came to be Scorsese's Signature Style is visible in this film, stylized camera movements, sudden violence, troubling religious iconography and use of popular music as scores.

It was also the first of Scorsese's films to deal with the mob a subject he returned to with Good Fellas and Casino, later noting that all three films represent an informal trilogy of the Italian American mob from low-level hoodlums to power brokers.


This Movie Contains Examples Of:

  • Bar Brawl
  • Binge Montage: The scene where there's a Face Cam in front of a very tipsy Charlie at a party is a textbook example and arguably is the Trope Namer.
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Charlie has gone out of his way to rectify Johnny Boy's debt situation with a neighborhood mobster, Johnny Boy not only refuses to pay but also insults the mobster to his face and threatens him with a gun. Not a wise move.
  • Facecam: Used during Charlie's aforementioned Binge Montage.
  • Man Child: Johnny Boy. Although, given his penchant for blowing up mailboxes, starting bar brawls, and sticking (unloaded) guns in the faces of mobsters he owes money to, it can be argued he's closer to a Psychopathic Man Child. In either case, he still has the emotional, intellectual, and mental maturity of a young—and rather dim—adolescent.
  • Mission from God: Somewhat disillusioned by the Catholic Church, Charlie seeks his own redemption for his sins by looking after Johnny Boy.
  • Mooks: One of the earliest known uses of the term thereby making the film a Trope Namer.
  • Poisonous Friend: Johnny Boy is so much of this to Charlie that even Charlie's Mob superior—his uncle—warns him to stay away.
    • Subverted in the end, it turns out that it's Charlie who's this to Johnny Boy, at least from Scorsese's perspective, who believes that Charlie was using Johnny Boy for his own selfish moral conflict.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Johnny Boy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Johnny Boy (especially after he insults and threatens a mobster he's heavily indebted to).

    Creator/Martin ScorseseTaxi Driver
The Mad Adventures of Rabbi JacobFilms of the 1970sMoscow Cassiopeia
McCabe & Mrs. MillerRoger Ebert Great Movies ListMetropolis
Harold and MaudeNational Film RegistryThe Immigrant
Maze RunnerNeeds Wiki Magic LoveMeat Puppet

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