Top 10 Films Of Harvey Keitel


Since making his screen debut in 1967, Harvey Keitel has emerged as one of America’s most intriguing actors. And while he continues to deliver the goods, it’s arguable that the 1990s was the decade in which he truly peaked. Mark Fraser looks back at 10 of his finest moments.

8. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Mean Streets, Scorsese, Harvey Keitel, Top 10 Films, Although this was something of a breakthrough movie for Robert De Niro, it’s really Harvey as Charlie who provides the story with its dramatic core. A wannabe New York gangster who is perpetually torn between his “profession”, the Catholic Church, his friendship with the dangerously loose Johnny Boy (De Niro) and his epileptic girlfriend (Amy Robinson), this dapper hoodlum is ultimately unable to reconcile these disparate elements. Loyalty, guilt, sin and redemption – as with Keitel’s many other subsequent roles, these sometimes conflicting metaphysical concerns all contribute significantly to his character’s complex persona.

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About the Author
Mark is a film journalist, screenwriter and former production assistant from Western Australia.

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    ArchE Reply

    The great unsung hero of contemporary Hollywood. I must say this is a terrific selection of his finest work yet tellingly reveals further surprise at why he fails to have the esteem of De Niro, Hoffman or Pacino. Maybe he does and I’ve been living under a rock. Keitel is a terrific actor, I’m always thrilled to see him appear on screen.

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    CineGirl Reply

    Love him in Pulp Fiction actually. Tarantino and Keitel were (or probably remain) very close with Keitel championing his work back in the early days.

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    Neal Damiano Reply

    Bad Lieutenant….simply amazing

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    Canucklehead Reply

    Bad Lieutenant is a powerhouse performance.

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    Rehnan Reply

    Great to see Clockers. One of my favourites.

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    Terry p Reply

    Great performance in Mean Streets, for me, one of his best.

    Can’t argue with Bad Lieutenant at 1.

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    Callum Reply

    Really liked him in Copland and U-571. Copland was the tough guy he plays so easily but U-571 was a bit less macho and in some ways he played second fiddle to a brilliant Matt McConaughey.

    Love From Dusk Till Dawn and like others have said, it’s tough to think of a better performance than Bad Lieutenant.

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    Jezza Reply

    Winston ‘The Wolf’ Wolfe! nuff said!

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      Callum Reply

      Yep – great little character.

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    Roger That Reply

    Good list Mark. Kietel is a workhorse and one of the best at his craft. Has he shunned lead roles, not been given them or preferred to sit in the background I wonder. When he is front and centre he rarely puts a foot wrong.

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    Daniel Barnes Reply

    His most underrated performance: the obsessed cop in Bad Timing.

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    Lindsey Reply

    Love me some Keitel! Have to agree with the listmaker that Bad Lieutenant sees him at his best but I also love Smoke.

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    Huddon Reply

    Your two most recent lists highlight two great character actors who have both favoured support over lead it seems. To be honest, they are so good I wouldn’t have it any other way but it’s a shame we haven’t had more Bad Lieutenants and Salvadors.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Keitel is terrific in everything he’s in, whether it a straight to dvd no budget movie or a big budget Hollywood tentpole. I too think Pulp Fiction should be here as should his performance in Copland. But when you have so many towering performances, it’s tough to pick ten. Great list, Mark.

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    Jim DiCaprio Reply

    no Pulp Fiction????

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