Films about losers are not generally as popular as those about winners, and this certainly proved to be the case with "The Friends of Eddie Coyle". Those people that watched Martin Scorsese's lauded crime epic "The Departed", which scooped the 2006 oscar would be excused in thinking it was the best Boston crime movie ever made. They would be wrong! That accolade should go to "The Friends of Eddie Coyle", which was forgotten almost immediately on its release in 1973. By the time of the Oscars that year it had already slipped into complete obscurity, and over the years it became as grey as the tone of the film. The film was more depressing than exciting and was unable to gain an audience. Which was a great shame for a film that is surely one of the best examinations of the criminal fraternity ever made.
The film follows the dialogue driven fortunes of a small time hood turned informant through the seedy underbelly of the Bostonian underworld. The criminals are authentically portrayed as small time low life. The height of Eddie's ambition is simply to stay out of jail. He is not overly bright, and escape from this world he inhabits is not an option for him. Survival is! If you are looking for a happy ending then watch "The Wizard of Oz" and not this film! Robert Mitchum gives a magnificent understated performance in the lead, and should have received at least an oscar nomination. He was often accused of sleepwalking through films, but in this film he proves what a fine actor he was. His previous experience working in a chain gang and being busted for possession of marijuana obviously stood him in good stead for the role. The Boston portrayed is a dark and grimy place, infested with petty criminals and is far removed from the same place depicted in the earlier glossier film "The Thomas Crown Affair".
It is rumoured that the director Peter Yates was often pestered by friends for copies of this film which were very difficult to obtain. It is simply amazing that it has only recently been released onto DVD, and even then only on Region 1 format. I note that VHS copies are unobtainable on Amazon. But class will almost always eventually win through. Great films stand the test of time, and new younger audiences often rediscover them. "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" is one such golden nugget awaiting new admirers, that already has a small band of appreciative older generation fans which includes me. A great film and one to cherish in your collection. Highly, highly recommended.
"Eddie doesn't rob banks...He's about this high in the bunch but he gets around more than any man I've ever seen," says Dave Foley (Richard Jordan), a baby-faced Boston cop about as amoral as the wiseguys he hunts. Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is a worn out, two-bit gunrunner. He provides untraceable revolvers when required. He draws the line at machine guns. Eddie is honorable in his way. He loves his family. He's just a low life who isn't all that shrewd. The fix he's in, because he can't take any more jail time, is what this superb Peter Yates' movie is all about.
"Look. I'm gettin' old, y'hear?" Eddie tells a young hood who deals in machine guns. "I spend most of my life hangin' around crummy joints with the punks drinkin' the beer, eatin' the hash an' hot dogs and watchin' the other people go off to Florida while I'm sweatin' how I'm goin' to pay the plumber. I done time when I stood up but I can't take no more chances. Next time it's goin' to be me goin' to Florida." Now he's facing more prison time for foolishly agreeing to drive a getaway car when he should have asked his friends some questions. He'll do just about anything to cut a deal for no jail time. He's nearly 50. He doesn't want his wife to go on welfare, doesn't want his three kids made fun of because their old man is doing time. He's squeezed by Dave Foley to inform...and Eddie decides he'll rat a little. He's too believing to understand he might be tagged for ratting big time. It's all betrayal, but Eddie doesn't really understand betrayal. All those friends of Eddie's make us wary every time we meet them: Scalise (Alex Rocco), who robs banks, sometimes violently; Jackie (Steve Keats), the dangerous dealer in stolen machine guns; Dillon (Peter Boyle), owner of a low-life bar who knows more about things than Eddie does.
The movie looks as hopeless as the Boston weather. It's the cold end of fall, filled with drab, chill days where parking lot asphalt is always wet. We're into Eddie's life in the low lane, where the anchors in the crummy strip malls are a tired Woolworth's and Barbo's Furniture Store. It's a lousy life and it belongs to Eddie Coyle. "Have a nice day."
Director Peter Yates sets up scenes -- an exchange of machine guns, a bank robbery, a family held hostage, a stakeout in a commuter train lot, a night on the town -- that are so naturally established that we might miss how skillfully they build the story and show us Eddie's life. We're never sure if things are as hopeless for Eddie as they seem. Yates keeps us on edge, and he adds layers of Eddie Coyle's sad and foolish trust.
This is one of Robert Mitchum's best performances. Mitchum still looks like he might be a tough guy, but his Eddie Coyle is a man who has had the force of his life wrung out of him. He's been in the life forever. He does the jobs others ask him to. He doesn't ask very many questions. He's just not smart enough. Mitchum takes all the hard edges off his usual persona and gives us an aging loser whose life is on the skids, and who doesn't understand just how badly off he is.
The Criterion release looks just fine. There is a commentary by Peter Yates.
on 2 October 2010
A rare film in a superb transfer on dvd.
The film itself is a low-key masterpiece, perhaps the finest moment in Yates' filmography.
Robert Mitchum's performance resonates with the character's personal dead-end.
It is well worth purchasing the dvd.
This downbeat crime drama features screen tough guy Robert Mitchum, in one of his later starring roles. Made in 1973, when Hollywood was turning out much glossier fare, here we see a different side of America. The seedy heart of Boston, dilapidated buildings, run-down housing, and small-time crooks.
Eddie Coyle is facing yet another jail term, and is desperate to avoid incarceration. A well-known gun runner, he is getting old and tired, his wife is nagging him, and he has problems at home with plumbing, and bills to pay. He will try anything, and decides to help one of his friends (Alex Rocco), as well as a persistent, rule-bending, ambitious cop, (Richard Jordan) who wants him to inform. He makes the mistake of turning to another friend, a bartender called Dillon, who is also not what he seems. It is soon apparent that the `friends' of the title, are anything but that.
With great set-pieces, terrific performances from a cast of jobbing actors, and Mitchum flawless in the lead role, this feels like a film about real crime, with no happy endings.
on 24 November 2015
A 70's cult classic. Everything about this film feels authentic of its time. This review is for the region 1 criterion dvd. It features a worthwhile commentary by the director Peter Yates, recorded a year before his death. I first saw the film when it was shown as part of the BBC Moviedrome series, this is the first time seeing it since but I really need to read the book on which it's based.
on 12 July 2014
I bought this dvd mainly because of the reviews here as I did not know anything about it.Being a fan of low key films with substance I found this very "me"! a plus would of course be if it had english subtitles but thats just a minor issue.Thank you guys for your reviews ; )
Boston criminal Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is in the mire, the cops have him bang to rights and he's facing a long stretch in the big house. However, if he turns informant he will keep out of poky...
For far too long this film had been stuck hidden away in pirate hell, thankfully it finally saw the light of day and can be seen for all its glory. Peter Yates directs and Paul Monash adapts the screenplay from the George V. Higgins novel. Supporting Mitchum are Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan, Steven Keats and Alex Rocco. Music is by Dave Grusin and cinematography by Victor J. Kemper.
It's a film noir lovers picture, a throw back to the halcyon days of the first wave of noir back in the 1940s. So who better than a battered pug faced Mitchum to front up the story? Pic is perpetually downbeat, with the air of despondency hanging over our protagonist like the grim reaper. The underworld painted by Yates and his team is smartly stripped down to basics, it's a world that is after all, always moving in secretive circles. There's no frilly glamour here, there's crime and consequences, realistic street operations, and brilliantly there's believable characterisations.
With dialogue dominating the narrative, it's not one for the action junkie - though the set-pieces are superbly staged by Yates, this is a neo-noir of high respect to previous blood lines. And it boasts a quite brilliant turn from Mitchum whilst not copping out at the finale. Noir heads rejoice! 9/10
on 22 September 2013
Eddie Coyle is an ageing career criminal who is about to go down for a stretch, and naturally, he doesn't wanna go. So whilst working as the middle man obtaining guns for a team of professional bank robbers, he decides he's gonna try to secure his freedom by becoming a rat, offering information to the police. But before long the underworld are aware of his antics and he may be bargaining for more than his freedom's worth...
This is a class act it really is. Mitchum plays Coyle in one of his greatest performances. With a superb support cast featuring some very underrated guys, people like Keats, Jordan, Boyle and Rocco. The dialogue is as sweet as a nut and extremely tight. And although I've read some of Higgins' work I've not read this, so don't know how close it is to his novel. Either way, this is good. There's not a huge amount of 'action' but it certainly isn't dull, right up to the sour closure. Honestly, I've never understood why this isn't better known.
Verdict: If you like well made, 1970s, hard boiled American crime flicks, and you haven't seen it, then this is better than the likes of say... Charley Varrick, and I'd put it right up there with movies the calibre of The Taking of Pelham 123 and Prime Cut. Unmissable.
Talk about 'blink and you'll miss it'; this film sank without trace on release, and this excellent Criterion Collection DVD I had to buy from Amazon marketplace. Don't matter how you get it, this is a tremendous film, and like many of the best 1970s movies, it bristles with a palpable tension under a surface where everything seems low-key. Robert Mitchum supplies an understated performance that is as careworn and lived in as his face. His 'Eddie Coyle' is brow-beaten and surfing the scum alongside a bunch of unsympathetic characters who never get above the gutter. And yet, for all its lack of shoot-'em-up action, is an intesnely rewarding watch, and has got better with age. Other reviewers have gone into more detail, so I won't repeat what they say, other than to recommend that you watch and enjoy this absorbing and quietly poignant film.
on 9 February 2016
After the huge success of "Bullitt", Peter Yates spent the whole of the rest of his career trying to come up with something that would be equally acclaimed, and he didn't succeed. Most of his movies are, indeed, negligible. However, he did make one that was actually a better film, although it wasn't a box-office hit - this ice-cold, achingly sad thriller about a 51-year-old man who's never managed to get a penny ahead in the world of professional crime, a man who's a crook in the same way that other men are plumbers or bus drivers or office workers, and who's too often been left holding the bag when the cops arrive. Poor Eddie knows he can't carry on like this - he's got a jolly Irish wife who loves him and a couple of youngish kids whom he's anxious to protect from the jeers of their schoolfellows, he just can't do any more time inside. It's anathema to him to rat on his friends - "friends" are important to a guy like Eddie - but when he's caught in a trivial offence, he simply must, because otherwise he'll become a three-time loser, the system will envelop him forever and his little life will fall apart. Robert Mitchum gives a genuinely great performance in this film - Eddie will break your heart, yet, at the same time, he can effortlessly put the frighteners on a young punk who sneers at him. The tired eyes, the eloquent face, the little gestures - Mitchum delineates a whole existence with superb economy and finesse, and he will make the sternest moralists weep for this lost man whose sure journey to the grave cannot be avoided. Sticking very closely to the George V. Higgins novel, the film has a clever plot, but story is less important than character and Mitchum is backed by a terrific cast - Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco, Helena Carroll, Steven Keats and, in particular, Richard Jordan, as a quite detestable Fed who throws away Eddie's life as casually as he would a sweet-wrapping.