Mean Streets (1973)
A buddy comedy for the first half, gradually piling on the struggles until Keitel is overwhelmed between allegiances to his fuckup friend (De Niro), his girl (Amy Robinson), and his criminal employers. He chooses poorly, trying to have it all – but only the fuckup (and randomly, David Carradine) gets killed, in a movie with very few guns considering the poster art is a smoking gun.
Feels like play-acting for a while, a dress rehearsal for Goodfellas, but I think that’s because these guys are such small-time gamblers. Only one of them (Richard Romanus) has a car, they scout deals for cigarette cartons, and they think two thousand dollars is an impossible amount of money. David Proval is the guy who runs a bar, and I think Victor Argo’s the big boss. Young Scorsese already knew what he liked, kicking into slow-mo when the Rolling Stones song comes on.
from the commentary: Marty was fired from Honeymoon Killers and Woodstock… Mean Streets was a record of his own young life compressed into a few-days story… Cassavetes’ Shadows is credited as their inspiration of possibility, and Corman taught the filmmaking discipline (visible in the movie are posters for Husbands, X, and The Tomb of Ligeia)
What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963)
Nervy montage with stills and motion and stop-motion and graphic elements, tied together with a comic narration by struggling writer Harry. Suffering a block, he throws a house party and meets a girl. Marty’s earliest short seems to be telling us: “I really enjoyed Zazie dans le metro.”
It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)
Murray is here to show off his success and say it’s all thanks to Joe, who started him on bootlegging gin. Another silly little film with comic narration which feels like it’s making it up as it goes. The gangster parody becomes a Hollywood musical parody… Joe steals Murray’s wife, then we jump to an inexplicable 8 1/2 ending.
Just a good time around the table, talking about food, family and the old days. I appreciate that Marty continues eating in the foreground while his camera crew films his family.