Mean Streets Gets Criterion Collection 4K UHD

The Criterion Collection released Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets in 4K Ultra HD just in time for the film’s 50th anniversary.

Martin Scorsese made two feature films before this one but Mean Streets would really be the one that placed him on the map. It would also become an influential film in American indie film canon and inspire a number of filmmakers. That being said, it’s not unfair to say that Mean Streets took some time in attracting a following. This could be blamed on the film not being a hit at the box office. Anyway, the film is also notable for marking the first time that Scorsese directed Robert De Niro in a movie. Their collaboration continues to this day with Killers of the Flower Moon.

Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a small-town ringleader who owes debts to Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) and is also dealing with pressure from girlfriend Teresa (Amy Robinson). We witness their lives spiraling out of control in a way that only one can in a Scorsese film. Interestingly enough, Sidney Levin–not Thelma Schoonmaker–also edited the film. However, both Scorsese and Schoonmaker approved the film’s digital restoration in 4K.

Back in 2011, filmmaker Martin Scorsese viewed himself as a Harvey Keitel type character. The script was also based on incidents that occurred while he went to Washington Square College. He admitted that on the weekends, he would be living the life that we see in the movie. Scorsese also returned to Little Italy for the movie’s setting.

One of the best parts about the film, which seems unthinkable 50 years later, is its soundtrack. If you make an indie film of this nature in today’s era, there’s no way that a filmmaker could afford it on a small budget. We’re not talking about songs playing in the background but songs playing a pertinent role in the soundtrack. If you’re wondering, it’s a monaural soundtrack. This film’s budget is only $650,000 and somehow they were able to afford the likes of The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Cream, etc. for around $35,000. Unthinkable, right?!? To be fair, Jonathan Taplin, a road manager for The Band, was the film’s producer and probably played a key role in securing the rights. What surprises me in 2023 is that there has never been a soundtrack release for Mean Streets!

What’s interesting to think about is that Mean Streets opened in the same year as George Lucas’s American Graffiti. However, Mean Streets failed at the box office where the George Lucas film became a hit. The Lucas film was also an Oscar nominee for Best Picture during an era where the Academy was changing post-1969. Both films used music in very different ways and it shows.

Bonus Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Martin Scorsese and collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • One 4K UHD disc of the film presented in Dolby Vision HDR and one Blu-ray with the film and special features
  • Excerpted conversation between Scorsese and filmmaker Richard Linklater from a 2011 Directors Guild of America event
  • Selected-scene audio commentary featuring Scorsese and actor Amy Robinson
  • New video essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith about the film’s physicality and its portrayal of brotherhood
  • Interview with director of photography Kent Wakeford
  • Excerpt from the documentary Mardik: Baghdad to Hollywood (2008) featuring Mean Streets cowriter Mardik Martin as well as Scorsese, journalist Peter Biskind, and filmmaker Amy Heckerling
  • Martin Scorsese: Back on the Block (1973), a promotional video from the film’s original theatrical release
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Lucy Sante

DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
SCREENWRITERS: Martin Scorsese and Mardik Martin
CAST: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, with Cesare Danova

Warner Bros. released Mean Streets in theaters on October 14, 1973. Grade: 4.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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