Martin Scorsese's first film in a genre that he would define in the following decades is also his first pairing with Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets. The film is about a group of low men on the Mafia totem pole mainly focusing on Harvey Keitel's character Chralie who ends up being pulled from three directions: his uncles business, his girl Teresa (Amy Robinson), and the lunacy of Johnny Boy (DeNiro).
Mean Streets feels almost like the test hybrid for films like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas that would come as early as three years later to close to twenty. As in a lot of Scorsese pictures New York plays a role in itself. You know it's New York in the 1970's, a gritty cess pool that most Americans knew nothing about. This was a film about Scorsese's neighborhood. DeNiro is fantastic as Johnny Boy, a role he plays when he was still the hungry method actor. Where has those days gone Bob?
Mean Streets is Scorsese's first real love letter to New York and helps define his style that has been ripped off several time but never duplicated. You can feel the traffic going by, hear the band playing, and smell the mixture of marinara sauce and sewer like you were actually in Little Italy.