‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ (1973) by Peter Yates

Director: Peter Yates

Cinematography: Victor J. Kemper

Writers: Paul Monash, George V. Higgins

Stars: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan

Rating: 86

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  • Robert Mitchum is often lost within the pantheon of great Hollywood actors, and even with a wealth of acting credits, his work often goes underappreciated. Mitchum is cast in some questionable films, but he always finds a way to enhance the experience.
  • Somehow, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of Mitchum’s best roles, and even in this film its a more basic portrait of an ex-gangster. He’s got an illustrious backstory, but the filmmaking is focused entirely on the repercussions of Eddie Coyle’s decisions and how his world backs him into all types of corners. Mitchum carries this narrative.

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  • Outside of Mitchum, Yates manages to create this grimy, crime drama that is taken from a unique perspective. The characters are scum bags, and both sides are playing Coyle. It’s a back-and-forth scuffle to get what they want out of Coyle before the other one. This leads to the inevitable feeling that Coyle isn’t long for this world.

The Robberies

  • I will always love Alex Rocco as Jimmy Scalise’s presence in the story, as the laid-back bank robber.
  • The scene where the owner of the bank gets dressed heads downstairs for breakfast to find his family being held up by Jimmy Scalise is phenomenal. It’s really shocking at the moment because of the scenes wonderfully set up as a normal, everyday experience before snapping into life or deathTFOEC 3
  • Each time Scalise is on the screen, the stakes feel much higher than in other instances. This is shown in Coyle trying to distance himself, while still acting loyally.
  • It’s an adrenaline rush that is perfectly paced and acted. Easily one of the highlights of the film.

The Dave Grusin Score

  • The other aspect of this film that I can’t get enough of is Dave Grusin’s original score that perfectly encapsulates Yates vision for the film and adds a great deal to the narrative. Grusin’s work in the film is historic, and his work on Eddie Coyle will always go undervalued.
  • A more jazz-influenced take mixed for the dark undertones of the narrative and the nature of these characters

The friends of Eddie Coyle

  • The “friends” never exactly feel like friends, and as the story reveals over time Eddie’s past decision and his family make his desperate situation impossible.
  • Peter Boyle as the bartender Dillon constantly hangs over the film. His importance is there, but it’s not entirely clear until the end. Dillon is nicely hidden in plain sightsTFOEC 1.jpg
  • The biggest scumbag, amongst a litany of morally tragic characters, is the one character that’s supposed to protect Coyle is the one using him the worst: Richard Jordan, portrayed as the squirly, deceiving cop, Dave Foley, is the one that drives the knife directly into Coyle’s back.
  • These two characters were great installations into the inevitability of Coyle’s death. These two hamstrung Coyle into turning on everyone before Foley turns on Eddie.
  • It’s a film that nicely hides the important and dangerous aspects of the story.

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It’s not overly complex but it’s a great stylized film with a fantastic Robert Mitchum performance. The pacing allows bending adrenaline pumping moments with the grittiness and hiding factor of a crime drama.

Check this film out.

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