Mean Streets is a 1973 film about a young Italian-American man who is trying to move up in the local New York Mafia but is hampered by his feeling of responsibility towards his reckless friend, a small-time gambler who owes money to many loan sharks.
- It's all bullshit except the pain. The pain of hell. The burn from a lighted match increased a million times. Infinite. Now, ya don't fuck around with the infinite. There's no way you do that. The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart... your soul, the spiritual side. And ya know... the worst of the two is the spiritual.
- [They all raise their glasses to The Queen] You know what the Queen said? If I had balls, I'd be King.
- You know something? She is really good-lookin'. I gotta say that again. She is really good-lookin'. But she's black. You can see that real plain, right? Look, there isn't much of a difference anyway, is there. Well, is there?
- You see, I borrow money all over this neighborhood, left and right from every BODY, I never pay them back. So, I can't borrow no money from nobody no more, right? So, who would that leave me to borrow money from but you? I borrow money from you, because you're the only jerk-off around here who I can borrow money from without payin' back, right? You know, 'cause that's what you are, that's what I think of you: a jerk-off.
- Hey, sorry lady! I'm sorry! I hate that lady with a passion... with a vengeance.
- Honorable men go with honorable men.
- [voiceover] You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it.
- Johnny Boy: You too good for this ten dollars? It's a good ten dollars. You know Michael, you make me laugh. You see, I borrow money all over this neighborhood, left and right from everybody, I never pay them back. So, I can't borrow no money from nobody no more, right? So who would that leave me to borrow money from but you? I borrow money from you, because you're the only jerk-off around here who I can borrow money from without payin' back, right? You know, 'cause that's what you are, that's what I think of you: a jerk-off. You're a fucking jerk-off! You're laughing 'cause you're a jerk-off. I'll tell 'ya something else, [lights ten dollar bill on fire] I fuck you right where you breathe, because I don't give two shits about you or nobody else.
- [Michael jumps at Johnny Boy and they both fight but Charlie breaks them up, Johnny Boy pulls out a gun]
- Johnny Boy: Come on... Come on... fuck face! Come on... 'ya motherfucker! Motherfucker!... come on! I got somethin' for 'ya asshole!
- Michael Longo: You don't- you don't have the guts to use that.
- Johnny Boy: Oh, I don't have the guts, huh? Come over here, I'll shove this up yer ass! Come on!
- [Michael leaves]
- Johnny Boy: Hey asshole, this is for you asshole! He's a fucking asshole! [Laughs]
- Johnny Boy: Hey, why don't you lower the jukebox, I can't hear nothin'.
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: Hey, the girls like the music loud.
- Johnny Boy: Girls. You call those skanks girls?
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: [to Charlie] Hey, what's a matter with this kid, huh?
- Johnny Boy: Hey, there ain't nothin' wrong with me my friend, I'm feelin' fine.
- Charlie: Keep your mouth shut.
- Johnny Boy: You tell me that in front of this asshole?
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: Alright, alright, we're not gonna pay. We're not paying.
- Jimmy: But why? Joey, we just said we were gonna have a drink.
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: [Joey interupts] We're not payin', because this guy, this guy's a fuckin' mook.
- Jimmy: But I didn't say nothin'.
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: And we don't pay mooks.
- Jimmy: Mook? I'm a mook?
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: Yeah
- Jimmy: What's a mook?
- Johnny Boy: A mook, what's a mook?
- Tony DeVienazo: I don't know...
- Johnny Boy: What's a mook?
- Jimmy: You can't call me a mook!
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: I can't?
- Jimmy: No...
- Joey 'Clams' Scala: [pause] I'll give you mook! [punches Jimmy in the face]
- Oscar: Look Charlie, you're a good boy. Will you just tell your uncle that I have nothing. There is nothing to give him. No envelopes with cash inside, no checks, nothing.
- Charlie: That bad, huh?
- Oscar: I can't make this week's payment and if this keeps up not next week's either.
- Charlie: Not next week's either... listen... you tell that to Giovanni, not me.
- Oscar: Listen, I should wrap up this place in a ribbon and hand it to him, you know that. I don't need this aggravation. I'm getting old.
- Charlie: He'd rather have the loan paid, you know that.
- Giovanni Cappa: This Johnny Boy is like your mister Groppi...a little crazy. It's nice you should help him out because of his family and our family but watch yourself...Don't spoil anything. His whole family has problems...his cousin, the girl who lives next door to you...
- Charlie: Teresa.
- Giovanni Cappa: ...The one who's sick, right? In the head.
- Charlie: No, she's got epilepsy.
- Giovanni Cappa: Yeah. That's what I said, sick in the head.
- Michael Longo: [showing a picture of his new girlfriend] You think she's good-looking? She's smart, too. She's gonna be a teacher.
- Tony DeVienazo: Let me see that. Oh, I know this girl.
- Michael Longo: Yeah?
- Tony DeVienazo: Yeah...I saw her kissing a nigger under a bridge.
- Michael Longo: What? What do you mean?
- Tony DeVienazo: A nigger. As in black. A nigger.
- Michael Longo: But what do you mean?
- Tony DeVienazo: [rolls his eyes] I mean...kissing. Her lips on his lips. Kissing.
- Michael Longo: [worried] I kissed her.
- Giovanni Cappa: I learned this from Charley Lucky during the World War II.
- Charlie: Oh? What did he do?
- Giovanni Cappa: What did he do? He was there, that's what he did.
About Mean Streets
Martin Scorsese: It’s kind of difficult to talk about how and why [Mean Streets] was made. When I think about the film and think about the time in my life having made the film and having been, in a sense, a part of the way of life that is depicted in the film, it seems to, in my mind, be the final culmination of everything of what I was to do and who I am. In my mind, it’s not really a film — it’s a declaration or a statement of who I am and how I was living; those thoughts and dilemmas and conflicts were very much a part of my life up to that point in time. They couldn’t be expressed in any other way [other than] resulting in this movie.
There is no message. It’s something that came out of me organically. The only way to express it was: camera and dialog and actors and color and music. In my mind it was a representation of who I was, my friends, and where I came from. The genesis was my life.
- DVD Commentary (2004), referenced at Art of the Title
- Harvey Keitel - Charlie
- Robert De Niro - Johnny Boy
- David Proval - Tony DeVienazo
- Amy Robinson - Teresa
- Richard Romanus - Michael Longo
- Cesare Danova - Giovani Cappa
- Victor Argo - Mario
- George Memmoli - Joey 'Clams' Scala
- David Carradine - Drunk
- Robert Carradine - Boy With Gun