Weekend Viewing: The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Remember Peter Yates, who died earlier this week, with his best film
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Criterion), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while waiting sentencing, which prompts him into a little side-action turning informer for a real wheeler-dealer of a detective (Richard Jordan in a pitch perfect performance). Director Peter Yates finds the perfect pace for the film, never pushing the action, never forcing the tension, letting it all play out – and finally unravel – at the same pace that his characters live off the job.
The characters are vivid without being eccentric, Peter Boyle is as forthright as he is impenetrable as a bartender with his fingers in plenty of schemes and Mitchum is at his best as a tired professional still hustling because it’s all he knows. Shot in that distinctive mix of location naturalism and matter-of-fact criminal activity that defined so many such films of the early seventies, Eddie Coyle lays bare the food chain of the criminal underworld, from the robbers to the gun suppliers and all the middlemen in between, including the stool pigeons. This is the first film I can think of since Pickup on South Street that portrays the informer not just in a sympathetic light but as a natural, inevitable part of the social order.
Yates sat down for the commentary track in 2009, dawdling through the film with affectionate remembrances (it's still one his favorite of his films) and observations. Also features a booklet with a new essay by critic Kent Jones and a 1973 profile of Mitchum originally written for Rolling Stone magazine.
‘Bullit’ is the only one I have seen made by ‘Peter Yates’. ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ looks interesting because ‘Robert Mitchum’ has always been one of my favorite actors. The time frame when these films where produced is a refreshing experience.
Wow! What a mind twister. I wasn’t ready for the ending. Kind of struck me by surprise, but that is what is going to make me watch it again. I really liked the score for this film. Especially during the heists. The percussions made it sound like a timer tick-ticking away. Good, suspense and thrilling drama. Really enjoyed this one.
Released in March, 2010, we recreated 2 dialogue-rich scenes. There's also a trailer, behind the scenes pics and a tribute to David Grusin who composed the music to "TFoEC". Comments are welcome!