Friday, July 24, 2009

Mean Streets

I mentioned the writer Kim Morgan the other night. I've certainly come late to her, as her archives prove. She's now written the most eloquent assessment of Martin Scorcese's Means Streets I've ever read. I'm quoting a bit of it here:

"Let’s just start with the opening -- an opening that ranks as one of the greatest title sequences of all time. The screen is black. A faceless narrator exclaims: "You don't make up for your sins at church; you do it in the streets; you do it at home. The rest is bullshit, and you know it." A young man wakes up in the middle of the night. The sounds of the city are outside. He walks over to his bedroom mirror, takes a look at himself and then returns to bed. As his head reclines toward his pillow, he is suddenly moving in slow motion. The thumping beat of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" begins and the scene shifts to a screening of Super-8 films of the young man and his friends. Just as Ronnie Spector breaks into the beautifully sweet chorus of "Be my, be my baby," the film reveals its title in plain, typewritten letters: Mean Streets.

"Yes. This opening always gets me right in the gut and mysteriously both the hard and soft places of my heart. It even, at times, almost makes me cry. No, not almost. It does make me cry. It’s just so raggedly lovely and wonderfully bittersweet and beautiful and tough and tender. It's reminiscent of a past that isn't entirely mine and yet, Scorsese makes me feel like it was -- almost one hundred percent. ). "

For the rest go here:


pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband's favorite movie.

Anonymous said...

“Mean Streets” was the film that was supossed to make Harvey Keitel a star, but people glommed onto DeNiro's performance and when it came time to make “Taxi Driver”, the Travis Bickel role was given to DeNiro. I find Keitel to have a broader range as an actor and much better choices in scripts than Bobby D - but there is no arguing with audiences tastes.

Not long after "Mean Street" (which is shot prdominately in Los Angeles and not New York, for budgetry reasons), Keitel played the villain in "Saturn 3", a sci-fi turkey with Kirk Douglas and Farrah fawcett, with Kirk barey his ass while Farah showed little skin. Keitel's lines were redubbed by an English actor to obliterate his thick Brooklyn accent.

Keitel was also cast in "Apocalypse Now", and some scenes were filmed but later discarded by Coppola and Keitel was replaced by Martin Sheen. Not a very auspicious start, but at least he hasn't wallowed in the dreck Deniro's been doing for the last couple of decades. DenIro seems to do his best work with Scorsese - but that strikes me as being a crutch. Keitel is good in whatever he does.

Brian O'Connor