directed by Peter Yates
Peter Yates has some classics under his belt. Breaking Away. Bullitt. The Dresser. Probably my favorite of them all is The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a tight and tense crime film that avoids many of the usual bells and whistles to wonderful effect. The film orbits Eddie Coyle (played to grim, loserish perfection by Robert Mitchum) and Coyle’s circle of criminals and cops (for whom he’s turned informant in exchange for a reduced sentence). Coyle gets around, but whether he’s tangling with an assured stolen arms dealer or snitching to fed agent Foley (Robert Jordan is a hard boiled treat), Coyle can never truly trust anyone. Bank robbery sequences that paved the way for contemporary pros (Ben Affleck took several pages out of Coyle’s book for his taught classic, The Town) and action that doesn’t kòu tóu to the genre gel perfectly with the excellent performances from the assemble cast. Robert Mitchum is one of my all time favorite actors, and his Eddie Coyle has a story or two to tell. I particularly love that the reason for his federal beef was that he was running moonshine in a hijacked truck, a bit of character trivia that recalls his iconic performance as Lucas Doolin in Thunder Road (of which he also wrote the original story and composed the title song). Peter Boyle is great as Dillon, who carries out hits for The Man (how awesome is that?) when he’s not out for himself. Friends is full of criminal gray areas, double crosses and shady business that demands you pay attention to the details and names of characters that are spoken about before names are connected with faces. In an era when even finest crime dramas and thrillers find ways to take the audience by the hand, a quietly confident and realistic gem from the 70s is like a complex breath of fresh air.