DVD/Blu-ray: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Eddie Coyle is looking at a stretch in prison and doesn’t want to leave his wife and kids reliant on welfare. He works for Jimmy Scalisi, supplying him with guns for a couple of bank jobs, but a cop named Foley is on to Eddie and he’s trying to persuade him to finger Scalisi; a gang leader with a lot to hide. Dillon, a full-time bartender and part-time contract killer may or may not be Eddie’s friend.
There are a lot of actors who tend to be a ‘one-trick pony’ (that is basically playing the same part no matter what that part is) and Robert Mitchum (Eddie Coyle) has always been that sort of actor for me. Whether it’s Matt Caulder in River of No Return, Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter or Max Cady in Cape Fear, he’s always played….Robert Mitchum. But in The Friends of Eddie Coyle we have a different Mitchum and it was quite a pleasant surprise. Instead of his usual ‘one dimension’ he gives such an understated performance at times I felt I was watching a slice of real 1970’s criminal life.
The story comes from a popular novel of the same name, and the film has the perfect director for this genre in Peter Yates (Bullitt, Robbery, Krull). You can tell it’s made in the early 70’s as it has that ‘The French Connection‘ feel and realism to it. In fact the only thing missing from this film is Al Pacino. In all honesty nothing much happens, this is a story about one man trying to get on with his life, the fact that he’s a criminal doesn’t really matter, it’s more about everyday life rather than a moral exercise in redemption, and that’s what makes it a true classic. The use of ‘normal’ language and realistic acting gives us an unsentimental view into Eddie’s life. Its almost like spying on someone through their window. One scene where Eddie grabs his wife and hugs her is a gem because it’s real life.
Extras include a 44 page booklet by Mike Sutton, an interview with director Peter Yates (filmed onstage in the 90’s) and an in depth and entertaining ‘appreciation’ of the film (and the book) by Glenn Kenny. Another fab package from Eureka.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle will be released on January 25th 2016.