Down These Mean Streets Essay

Down These Mean Streets Essay-48
He also dreams of his cousin Teresa (Amy Robinson), who is Johnny’s sister.

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Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” is not primarily about punk gangsters at all, but about living in a state of sin.

For Catholics raised before Vatican II, it has a resonance that it may lack for other audiences.

Johnny launches on a rambling, improvised cock-and-bull story about a poker game, a police raid, a fight--finally even losing the thread himself.

Scorsese first displayed his distinctive style in his first feature, “I Call First / Who's That Knocking at My Door?

The style is displayed joyously in “Mean Streets” as Charlie and friends go to collect from a pool hall owner, who is happy to pay.

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But then Johnny Boy is called a “mook,” and although nobody seems quite sure what a mook is, that leads to a wild, disorganized fight.

At one point, late in the film, he goes into the bar, orders scotch and holds his fingers over the glass as the bartender pours, copying the position of the priest’s fingers over the chalice.

That kind of sacramental detail would also be a motif in “Taxi Driver,” where overhead shots mirror the priest’s-eye-view of the altar, and the hero also places his hand in a flame.

If Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” fixed an image of the Mafia as a shadow government, Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” inspired the other main line in modern gangster movies, the film of everyday reality. In countless ways, right down to the detail of modern TV crime shows, “Mean Streets” is one of the source points of modern movies.

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