Mean Streets (1973)

I saw this movie when it came out, and again just recently, I was surprised to discover how little I remembered of it. Overall, it is a cruder production than I remembered. It feels like – and maybe it was – a student movie. The film and sound quality are weak, some of the acting is amateurish, and the editing is undisciplined. It should have been 15 to 20 minutes shorter. But there are so many bits and pieces of brilliance in it – in the photography, the direction, the dialogue, and the acting – that I can understand why it was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. (Films on the NFR are selected for their cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance.)

Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro play the main characters, and they are both amazing. But there are other great performances by David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, and, I was surprised to notice, a nice little bit of acting drunk by a young David Carradine.