wed 23/05/2018

DVD: The Friends of Eddie Coyle | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

DVD: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Magnetic, slow-burn performance from Robert Mitchum in Peter Yates’ dark crime drama

Robert Mitchum’s Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle takes stock

The cheerless The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a film which the description "slow-burn" could have been coined for. Watching the story of Robert Mitchum’s low-level criminal Eddie “Fingers” Coyle unfold is a sombre experience but when the climax comes, it is shocking. Coyle is a cog in a machine; a piece of chewing gum to be spat out and trodden on. Anyone and everyone is expendable in his world. Despite knowing the rules of the game and having the nous to expound on them, he is never going to rise to the top.

Everyone in this noir-ish film looks unhealthy. Grey skin tones and the pallid dominate. Hair is greasy. Interiors are lit by strip lights which accentuate the washed-out tones. Materialisations of daylight and the verdant come like bolts of white light.

Based on a recently published book by George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle was released in 1973 and directed by Peter Yates (1929-2011). The film was made where the story was set: in Boston and its surrounding area. The UK-born Yates’ Robbery (1967, based on the Great Train Robbery) and Bullitt (1968) are his lasting contributions to the crime-thriller genre, but this is a contender for being considered as significant a film as those. Its power does not just come from its naturalistic style, but also from Mitchum’s deadpan, bordering on fatalistic, performance. Though in his mid-50s, he projects the weariness of someone whose life has been longer, and very hard. It was a persona he also dipped into for his next film, The Yakuza (1974).

This new dual-format UK release is supplemented by a thick book with an insightful essay and an interview with Yates. The extras are different to those of the American Criterion package (there is no commentary) and include a career-spanning interview with Yates filmed at the-then National Film Theatre and a fascinating, specially filmed to-camera appreciation by the American critic Glenn Kenny which should not be watched before the film.

Everyone in 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle' film looks unhealthy: grey skin tones and the pallid dominate


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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