Mean Streets is an early Martin Scorsese film starring Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. Charlie (Keitel) is a man who is trying to move up in the crime world and who is hampered by his responsibility towards his dimwitted cousin (De Niro). Charlie is in love with a woman who has epilepsy and works for his uncle collecting debts; his uncle disapproves of his girlfriend because she has epilepsy. Additionally Charlie, who had a strict Catholic upbringing, is probably too forgiving in general to get far in the mafia.
Scorsese's feature film debut, after his student film project Whos That Knocking at My Door, Mean Streets was based on events Scorsese saw growing up in Little Italy. Released in 1973; features a memorable early 60s soundtrack. De Niro won the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Actor for his role as Johnny Boy Cervello.