The Friends Of Eddie Coyle – Finally Available!!

friends_of_eddie_coyleThanks to the Criterion Collection, this item from the “LOST” list surfaces in a very nice, although bare-bones edition. The 1973 Paramount film, directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt) and starring Robert Mitchum, is possibly one of the best films of it’s genre and of the 70’s. It’s also a late tour de force for Mitchum. Friends and the 1975 Farewell My Lovely would mark a return to the noir pictures of his heyday in the 40’s and 50’s, and Mitchum would show that he never lost his chops despite hard, wild living.

Based on a crime novel by Boston prosecutor George V. Higgins, the film is set in the very realistic world of small-time hoods in early 70’s Boston. The tone is set mostly by the tough-guy dialogue deftly written in the book and expertly delivered by Mitchum and Peter Boyle in the film. Eddie “Fingers” Coyle is up to his neck in a gun deal with small-timer Jackie Brown, and the law is not far behind. Eddie’s associate and bartender Dillon (Boyle) is caught between Eddie and the mob, and must play both sides, as Eddie does. It’s every man for himself.

The entire film is shot on location in and around Boston, which at the time was the perfect run-down mean kind of town for the film’s aesthetic. Yates’ use of long-shot exteriors and dark, claustrophobic interiors enhances the mood. Near the climax of the film there is also the bonus of a glimpse into the long-gone Boston Garden, where the famous Bobby Orr-era Bruins play a game attended by our hoodlums. Priceless. It may be the best film of Boston ever.

On DVD, the film retains its grainyness and washed-out look, and there is a very fortunate commentary track by Director Yates, now in his 80’s. The only other extra is a booklet with reprints of some articles, one in particular by Grover Lewis written on the set and behind the scenes with Mitchum that is really good. Released on June 2, 2009.  Get it before the “mooks” at Paramount get it back and shove it on a shelf for another 30 years.

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  1. Lets be thanful for at least a commentary track since most of the cast have passed away: Boyle, Mitchum, Jordan, and Keats.

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