In under three minutes Martin Scorsese revolutionized cinema. The opening credits of Mean Streets has perhaps had more of a lasting effect on the use of music and narrative in popular film than any other three minutes in the history of the medium. Arising out of a New York film scene steeped in outré concepts, Scorsese was able to sculpt these elements into a cannon shot that would last for generations.
The story is a simple one: Charlie (Harvey Keitel) is a debt collector for his uncle in the Italian mafia. He feels responsible for his best friend Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), who is stuck in neutral, owing money to loan sharks all over town. Having to choose between a childhood allegiance and his family is an impossible decision, but ultimately there's not much that he can do to save Johnny Boy.