The Friends of Eddie Coyle



USA 1973 : Peter Yates : 102mins

A standard early-70s crime thriller, notable mainly for Robert Mitchum’s commandingly downbeat performance as Eddie, an ageing crook who reluctantly turns stool-pigeon to avoid yet another spell inside. Trouble is, the cops (unhealthy-looking pretty-boy Richard Jordan as his main contact) are using Eddie just as cynically as the crooks, and he’s now a shade too old and too slow to see which way it’s all headed.

Paul Monash’s script, based on the novel by George V Higgins, emphasises character over plot, and in this it’s well served by a solid supporting cast headed by Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco and Joe Santos. But it’s is often so hard-boiled and economical it’s tough working out exactly what’s going on and why in this network of mistrust and deceit. The picture does make atmospheric use of chilly autumnal Boston and its surrounding suburbs, however, culminating in a verite-style ice-hockey sequence at Boston Garden, the much-lamented stadium which was demolished soon after.

Dave Grusin’s score delivers lively blasts of mid-70s “oo-wacka-wacka” kitsch, though other aspects of the sound recording are off-puttingly erratic: the swear-count is realistically high, which makes the clumsy dubbing of numerous expletives all the more baffling and frustrating. Journeyman Yates’ direction, meanwhile, finds its note early on and sticks rigidly to it all the way through.

4th February, 2001
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