Friday 28 March 2014

The Friends of Eddie Coyle [1973]

The Friends of Eddie Coyle, directed by Peter “Bullitt Yates, is a melancholic, downbeat and character-driven crime drama laced with grim plot developments, harsh realism and fatalism. Adapted from the debut novel of George V. Higgins, who’d also written the source novel for Killing Them Softly (viz. Cogan’s Trade), the film transplanted the author’s love for rambling and discursive narrative style to provide a grim look, shorn of sentimentality and romanticism, into the bleak, chance-ridden and thoroughly unfair world of gangsters, particularly the ageing little fishes in the unforgiving big pond. The titular Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum), a middle-aged gunrunner in Boston’s organized crime sector, despite being well-connected on account of having spent his life in this arena, never managed to make it beyond the middle-rung or ensure sufficient financial backing for his family. Consequently, when faced with a long tenure in prison and devoid of any godfather to help him out of the fix, he’s forced to become a part-time informant for the police in order to earn a favorable verdict on account of services rendered. Meanwhile, a gang of masked bank robbers is conducting heists with clinical efficiency, and when Eddie earns the damning, albeit false, reputation of ratting on his colleagues, his fate gets sealed. The most poignant aspect of the film lay in its tragic finale when Dillon (Peter Boyle), Eddie’s buddy and a professional hitman, is asked to neutralize him, he treats Eddie to an ice-hockey game, food and drinks before coldly executing the dirty job. Mitchum was marvelous as the weary, detached and down-on-luck protagonist, and the disconsolate mood was evoked with minimalist ease. It also comprised of a couple of brilliantly staged heist sequences.

p.s. This is an earlier review. My recent review of the film can be found here.

Director: Peter Yates
Genre: Crime Drama/Gangster
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Yes, there are indeed some splendid set pieces in this one Shubhajit, and over the years I have come to admire it much more than I did when I saw it upon release theatrically. Terrific review!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. This sure remains a heavily underrated & under-watched film, which is a tragedy methinks. Great to know that your opinion about this film has gone up over the years.