It was great being enlightened by the directing prowess of Alfred Hitchcock when I was watching my 50s movies, and though I was already drinking the Kubrick-Aid, it was great to see how much further he was taking film with flicks like 2001 and A Clockwork Orange in the late 60s/early 70s. Now it's time for another that can lay claim to yhe " My Favorite Director" throne. Marty Scorsese.
Going through my "Movies I Want To Own" list that I hadn't looked at in over a year, a remarkable thing happened, I realized I own every Scorsese movie I want to own. I won't bore you with the details, but let's say it's a good bulk of the ones that revolve around crime and the city of New York. Kundun is not on my rack, nor will it be in the near future.
Mean Streets is the first of the bunch though, and not only is it my first owned Marty movie, it's my first owned Robert DeNiro movie, and to a lesser extent, my first owned Harvey Kietel movie. The other actors may not have had illustrious careers, but with these three big names, how is that even possible? Another semi-famous actor in this is David Carradine who doesn't really have a speaking part, but he's quite drunk and gets shot a few times, so that's pretty cool. Something for the resume anyway. Sure, unlike one of his co-actors, he couldn't put "Heroin Junkie Who Gets Kicked Out of Bathroom" on his, but "Drunk Guy Getting Shot by Wife" is a close second. Of course, the only phrase that matters on his resume now is autoerotic asphxiation which may sound cool because there's an "X" in there, but I'm sure he'd like to have that one back.
Another great thing about this movie is the birth of a great rock'n roll soundtrack. Some movies have tried this whether it was Simon and Garfunkle playing tunes for The Graduate or Dennis Hopper picking some of his hippie trippy jams for Easy Rider, but this one makes classics of songs that are already classics, whether it's the Ronettes' "Be My Baby", or Stones classics like, "Tell Me" or "Jumpin' Jack Flash." To this day, any time I hear one of these songs, I dream of being in some dive in 70s New York, but the best I can do is go to the Hub here in Tampa, and they don't even have any of those songs on the Jukebox, though their Jukebox is pretty impressive.
So what ties this all together? Nothing really, just the root of so many great movies to come. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed ... all of these owe kudos to their root in Mean Streets. At this point, Marty didn't know what his strengths were going to be, and it's because of this movie he discovered them. Take some common elements like Mafia, NYC, violence and Robert DeNiro and you have a sure fire hit. This is the beginning of all of that.