Mean Streets Movie Poster

Trivia for Mean Streets

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  • Clearing the songs for use in the film ended up being approximately half of its budget.
  • When raising money for the film, Martin Scorsese was offered a healthy sum by his mentor Roger Corman on the condition that he shoot the movie with an all-black cast. Scorsese had to turn Corman down.
  • Martin Scorsese sourced much of his own personal record collection for the score.
  • DIRECTOR CAMEO (Martin Scorsese): He appears a further two times, in addition to his credited appearance as Jimmy Shorts. First, he is visible in a "portrait" with Harvey Keitel (for one frame) in the opening home movies and main title sequence. Second, his voice appears as narration: "Father, I'm not worthy of your flesh."
  • DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Martin Scorsese): (mother): The woman who comes to Teresa's aid when she has an epileptic seizure.
  • Based on a script which Martin Scorsese co-wrote with Mardik Martin in the 1960s, titled "Season of the Witch."
  • The innovative use of the hand-held camera was largely down to the fact that the film's meager budget didn't stretch to laying down lots of tracks for all the tracking shots.
  • The leader of the Super 8 home movie, which runs under the opening credits reads: "DATE: 12/8/69 TITLE: (illegible) w/ baptism processed by KODAK".
  • To really get inside Harvey Keitel's drunken scene, the camera was actually strapped to the actor while he swayed about, and under-cranked to give it a woozy, drunken feel.
  • The title change from "Season of the Witch" to "Mean Streets" was inspired by a quote from Raymond Chandler: "Down these mean streets a man must go." Film critic Jay Cocks suggested the change to Martin Scorsese, who thought it pretentious at first, but eventually came to agree that it was effective.
  • Originally, the financial backers wanted Jon Voight to play Charlie, but he turned them down.
  • The voice-over narration in the opening of the movie ("You don't make up for your sins in Church; you do it on the street; the rest is bullshit and you know it.") is actually not said by Harvey Keitel (the character we are intended to believe is thinking these thoughts), but Martin Scorsese. Scorsese felt that using a separate voice to make the distinction between Keitel's thoughts and actions was necessary. Scorsese borrowed this technique from Federico Fellini, who used it in I Vitelloni (1953).
  • While many consider this to be the quintessential New York City film, very little of it was actually shot there. Many scenes, including the famous pool hall sequence, were shot in Los Angeles, California.
  • This marks the first film collaboration of Director Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. They would go on to make nine films together, as of 2019: Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1982), Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), Casino (1995), and The Irishman (2019).
  • The schedule for the movie was twenty-five days (according to Martin Scorsese's commentary for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)).
  • John Cassavetes told Martin Scorsese after he had completed "Boxcar Bertha (1972)," "You've just spent a year of your life making a piece of shit." This inspired Scorsese to make a film about his own experiences. Cassavetes told Scorsese that he should do something like his earlier film "Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)," which Cassavetes had liked. Scorcese then made "Mean Streets," which was based on actual events that Scorsese had seen while growing up in New York City's Little Italy.
  • (Cameo) Catherine Scorsese: The woman who comes to Teresa's aid when she has an epileptic seizure.
  • The production was pretty much made on-the-run from the Teamsters, as it would have been financially impossible to make the film had it been a union shoot.
  • Martin Scorsese edited the film himself, but consulted Sidney Levin for advice. Since Scorsese wasn't a member of the Editors' Union, Levin accepted receiving editing credit for the movie.
  • Filming took twenty-seven days, six in New York City, and the rest in Los Angeles, as they couldn't afford to do the full shoot in New York City.
  • Francis Ford Coppola contributed money to the budget of the film.
  • The church in the movie, St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in Little Italy, was the location of the baptism scene in The Godfather (1972). It appeared in The Godfather: Part III (1990), where Michael Corleone receives an honor from the church.
  • Charlie's surname is "Cappa", which was Catherine Scorsese's maiden name.
  • This movie and The Godfather: Part II (1974) feature scenes of Robert De Niro running over the rooftops of Little Italy during the annual Feast of San Gennaro festival.
  • The word "fuck" and its derivatives are used 52 times. At the time of the films release, this was the highest in history, until it was surpassed by The Last Detail (1973), which was released two months later. Frequent profanity would go on to become a trademark in many of Martin Scorsese's films.
  • Scorsese's inspiration for Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) came from his paternal Uncle Joe (the Bug) Scorsese, who was often in trouble with the law himself.
  • Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • Elected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1997.
  • Martin Scorsese and Mardik Martin wrote most of the script in Scorsese's car cruising round the Little Italy neighborhoods.
  • Robert De Niro was offered any of four parts in the film. Once Harvey Keitel came on-board, he convinced De Niro to take on the role of Johnny Boy.
  • Brian De Palma helped Martin Scorsese edit some scenes in this movie.
  • Martin Scorsese said that he was pleased when Warner Brothers bought and distributed this movie, because "they had the best gangster pictures."
  • According to Martin Scorsese, the first draft focused on Charlie's religious conflict and its effect on his worldview.
  • Harvey Keitel got the part of Charlie after another actor , Jon Voight, dropped out.
  • Due to the low budget, some of the most iconic shots in the film were done using a handheld camera, including a 69-second take that follows Johnny Boy as he walks through Charlie's apartment and the famous pool hall brawl.
  • According to Catherine Scorsese, the scene in which Amy Robinson is having an epileptic seizure took twenty-two takes to film.
  • Robert De Niro originally wanted to play Charlie.
  • This movie came out during the height of blaxploitation cinema. Movies like Shaft (1971) and Cleopatra Jones (1973) were all the rage. At one point, Warner Brothers suggested they switch it from Italian characters to all black characters. Martin Scorsese refused.
  • Paramount Pictures was interested in distributing this movie.
  • The scene when Johnny Boy blows up a mailbox was amongst the shoots done in Los Angeles.
  • One of the songs in the soundtrack is "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Ace. This song was also featured in another Harvey Keitel film, "Bad Lieutenant (1992)."
  • The film was banned by the BBC in the 1980s due to the strong language and violence.
  • The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
  • The first film of many, in which Harvey Keitel and Victor Argo co-star.
  • This film and "Taxi Driver (1976)" feature scenes where the main character deliberately burns himself by putting his hand over a flame. In this film, Charlie (Harvey Keitel) puts his hand in a candle flame at the cathedral altar. In "Taxi Driver (1976)," Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) holds his fist in a gas flame from his apartment stove.
  • Martin Scorsese reunited much of the crew from "Boxcar Bertha (1972)," who were veterans of budget-minded filmmaking.
  • According to Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Richard Romanus clashed during the production, and Scorsese played on their mutual animosity for the key scene where Johnny Boy pulls a gun on Michael. "I kept shooting take after take of Bobby yelling these insults, while the crew was getting very upset", he explained. "The animosity between them in that scene was real, and I played on it."
  • In "Harvey Keitel - The First Documentary - The Success of Mean Streets" (available on YouTube) instrumental music plays. This same music plays in "Pulp Fiction" (1994), in which Keitel also appears.
  • After Harvey Keitel was cast as Charlie and Robert De Niro was cast as Johnny Boy, they wanted to swap roles. Martin Scorsese put his foot down.
  • In "Harvey Keitel - The first documentary - The success of Mean Streets" (available on YouTube), the opening song is "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones. Many years later, Martin Scorsese directed "Shine a Light" (2008), a "rockumentary" about the band. Also, the hilariously synthesized voice of "Paul," who narrates the text, mispronounces Scorsese as "Score-seize". It is correctly pronounced "Score-say-zee".
  • One of the movies that Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel see is John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956).
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the four hundred movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
  • In the scene where Harvey Keitel's character is riding in the back of a taxi, the taxi is being driven by Robert DeNiro.
  • This film was not successful upon its initial release, despite good reviews and the acclaim it received at the New York Film Festival in 1973. Producer Taplin and director Scorsese thought that, due to Warner Bros. small financial stake in the film, the studio did not promote it enough. WB was more interested in their big-budget productions such as "The Exorcist (1973)," which was released about two months later.
  • Harvey Keitel and Richard Romanus also appeared "The Assassin" (1993).
  • According to "Behind the Scenes of Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets'," Scorsese met with the producer Jonathan Taplin. According to Taplin, Martin Scorsese had wanted to make "Mean Streets" for so long that he had "literally drawn out every single shot." In 1970, Scorsese briefly moved out to LA to make the big time in movies and find someone to produce his film. He met Taplin at his house and they talked by the swimming pool--Taplin in trunks, Scorsese wearing a long black leather coat, like the kind the Gestapo used to wear in those wartime B-movies. All through their discussion under the blazing Californian sun, Scorsese never took off the coat, just sat melting into the deckchair, enthusing about his project. LA was not Scorsese's kind of a town, New York was what he knew and what he liked.
  • A very young Robert Carradine plays an assassin who shoots a man to death in a bar. The victim was played by David Carradine, Robert's older brother.
  • Scorsese stated in a foreword to the film during TCM's broadcast on Sept. 17, 2018, that the story's setting was approximately 1963.
  • Legendary English gangster Freddie Foreman (Kray twins henchman and enforcer) said that the character Johnny Boy played by DeNiro was very similar to Jack "The Hat" Mcvitie. Mcvitie was lured to a house party in Stoke Newington and murdered by Reggie Kray. Both characters were mischeivous, liked drink and pills, and wore pork pie hats.
  • The fat guy in the pool hall scene (Joey played by George Memmoli) was a close friend of director Scorsese. He was also featured in the 1977 Scorsese movie "New York New York" (which also starred De Niro). He also appeared in the movie "Blue Collar" (written by Paul Schrader) in 1978 alongside Keitel.
  • The film is semi-autobiographical: a film about life as Marty knew it, growing up in his NYC neighbourhood and dealing with a formative period in his life during the early 60's. He had tried to depict this a couple of times previously. Once in a comic short called "It's Not Just You, Murray." (A rough draft of it would later become "Goodfellas." Harvey Keitel plays the same character in both.) And in an attempt at his first feature "Who's That Knocking At My Door," which he felt was a black-and-white rough draft for "Mean Streets."
  • The film was shot in 26 days using director Roger Corman's crew--with 6 days location in New York, and with most of the interiors done in Los Angeles. On some days doing as many as 24 set-ups (36 set-ups for the fight scene in the pool room).

Spoilers

  • The last shot of the movie is of Martin Scorsese's mother, Catherine Scorsese, closing a window.
  • This is the first of two Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro collaborations where De Niro's character is shot in the neck at the end of the film. The other film being "Taxi Driver (1976)." Interestingly, De Niro's character does not appear to be killed in either instance, with paramedics showing up to help the wounded Johnny Boy and Travis Bickle surviving the shoot-out to be recognized as a "hero."
  • In Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976) there is a similar scene to Teresa's epileptic attack in this one. Robert De Niro and his close friend, Gérard Depardieu, are with a young girl who suffers an epileptic attack, De Niro disregards while his friend tries uselessly to help her, and an old female neighbor finally helps the young girl. Bertolucci hired De Niro in Novecento after watch him in Mean Streets.
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