Directed by Peter Yates, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) is a subdued crime drama. Set in and around the Boston area, the interior locations look well trodden; the bling factor doesn’t sashay much beyond a nice leather jacket and a muscle car. Based on the novel by George V. Higgins, the movie abounds with earthbound personalities, workaday criminals who don’t toot their prowess or commandeer social spots, but simply want to maneuver through the day without getting nabbed. In the title role is Robert Mitchum, who plays a middle-aged family man who makes his living doing itty-bitty jobs for dodgy acquaintances. Faced with an impending prison sentence in New Hampshire, Coyle haplessly decides to turn informant because he doesn’t want his kids to grow up without him. From the editing to the dialogue to the climax — nothing about this movie hankers to razzle-dazzle, which is a good thing considering the genre’s bias towards sensationalism. If anything, The Friends of Eddie Coyle strives to pinpoint the anxiety that underlies the criminal life that is epitomized by the saucer-deep level of trust among confreres. In that respect, the movie’s take-home wisdom is dispensed by a gun smuggler — trivia buffs take note — named Jackie Brown (Steven Keats) who schools a new connection by stating, “This life’s hard, man. But it’s harder if you’re stupid.”
Editor: Bill Tipper
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About the Writer
Christopher Byrd is a writer who lives in New York. His reviews have appeared in publications such as The New York Times Book Review, The American Prospect, The Believer, The Guardian , The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wilson Quarterly.