Scorsese

Mean Streets was based on myself and a couple of friends I had, but particularly two guys.  One of them thinks the Johnny Boy character is really about him, and in a way it was, but not fully.  He no longer lives in New York, but he always felt angry about that.

After my father died, I realized what the hell the picture really was about: my father and that brother of his who we’ve talked about; a lot of money that was owed, a lot of sit-downs.  Every night I’d hear the drama.  For twenty, twenty-five years, that’s all I heard.  About what’s right and wrong and you’re in a jungle.  It had to do with the dignity of the name, and respect–walking a tightrope of respect, not being a wiseguy.  Mean Streets was about him and my uncle, but I couldn’t verbalize it until after ’93 or ’94, when it really hit home.

Conversations with Scorsese by Richard Schickel

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