The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) Peter Yates
The first time I saw Friends of Eddie Coyle, I thought it was a pretty good realistic, gritty crime film that I watched mostly for Robert Mitchum, who was still getting it done at age 56. Watching it again, I begin to see just how good it is.
Mitchum plays Eddie Coyle, a guy who got in trouble – certainly not for the first time – by driving a highjacked truck for a man named Dillon (Peter Boyle). Eddie swears he’s not going back to prison and he’ll do anything to avoid it, even talking to the Feds in exchange for avoiding jail. Maybe he can go into the witness protection program out West. Anything but jail.
Hoping to score some money for his wife in case he does get sent to the cooler, Eddie sells guns, first to a dealer named Jackie Brown (not that Jackie Brown – this one’s played by Steven Keats) who’s trying to deal with a couple of dumb teenagers who want to buy machine guns, and second to a group of bank robbers. Things go wrong and the guys in positions of power, particularly a boss known as “The Man,” begin to suspect everything that’s gone wrong is Eddie’s fault. In that sense (and many more), The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a true film noir.
One of the reasons The Friends of Eddie Coyle is so good is that the characters are allowed to live and breathe (while they’re alive, anyway). You almost feel as if Yates has dropped us into the middle of real gun-runners, real dealers, and real bank robbers. There’s nothing flashy, just great performances and great writing. If you haven’t seen it, you should, particularly if you’re a Mitchum fan. And the rewards-to-rewatch ratio of this film is very good.
Photos: Movie Title Stills Collection, Hi-Def Digest,