Today, no contemporary American director more deserves the title of auteur than Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese is the perfect example of an auteur because he uses the same thematic consistencies throughout all of his work. These entail Catholicism, virgin/whore conflict, redemption, ethnic pride, and of course crime culture. On top of this, he supports all of his plots with very eclectic soundtracks. The cinematography he uses is very similar in all of his films. He utilizes the fluid motion of the camera with each shot, while making the mis-en-scene of each frame valuable to the plot of the story. He is also know for using some of the same actors in his films, specifically Robert Deniro, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel. Of his large body of work, Mean Street symbolizes the blue print to the archetype that has become his unique style.
Scorsese has a visual style that relies on the city of New York. Mean Street embodies the culture that comes with this location. In the film, the audience is subjected to getting to know characters who spend their time womanizing, hustling, fighting, and drinking. Centered on the struggles of four men in their mid-20's and all residents of Little Italy, who are working their way up the rungs of gangster culture, some are loan sharks, and some are just plain hoods. Tony (David Proval) is a big friendly guy who runs the neighborhood bar; Michael (Richard Romanus) is a small-time loan shark who tends to rip off Brooklyn adolescents. Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) is an irresponsible hood who borrows money from loan sharks that he never intends to pay back, and Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is the nephew of the mafia boss Giovani (Cesar Danova). Charlie's only aspiration is to run his own restaurant.
Mean Street is authentically based on specific events Scorsese saw almost regularly while he was brought up in Little Italy. The screenplay for the film initially started out as a continuation of Who's That Knocking. Scorsese changed the title from Season of the Witch to Mean Street. The film is arguably Scorsese's most religious film, even more so than his film The Last Temptation of Christ. This is in part due to the fact that the original draft of Mean Street centered on the religious conflict inside of Charlie and how it was affecting his world view. Charlie sees saving Johnny Boy as a way to find redemption. His aspirations for sainthood are played out through his behavior on the streets, as opposed to going to church. This is one of the implied meanings in the film.
The implied meaning that comes with an auteur directed film is all present in Mean Street. In his article Senses of Cinema, Marc Raymond points out many of the film's intricacies. He argues that there is an implied homoeroticism between Johnny Boy and Charlie. He points this out when he says:
The couple of the film is clearly Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) rather than Charlie and his girlfriend Theresa (Amy Robinson). This can be seen in one particular sequence in which Charlie and Johnny Boy stay out all night and sleep in the same bed together. Charlie gets out of bed and goes to the window, where he sees Theresa dressing. The next scene cuts to Charlie and Theresa making love in a hotel room. (Raymond, Pg1)
Raymond argues that Johnny boy plays the part of the Femme Fatale and that this is a very