One of the great things about companies releasing movies all the time on Blu-ray/DVD is that you get to find films you might not find otherwise. For example The Criterion Collection just released the 1973 crime thriller The Friends of Eddie Coyle. If they hadn’t just released it, I might have never found out about this excellent movie.
Based on a novel by George V. Higgins (whose only ever had one other novel adapted into a movie, Killing Them Softly) and directed by Peter Yates (Bullit) the movie follows Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) a small time hood who got pinched hijacking a truck. The cops want him to inform for them and if he does he might avoid jail time.
Eddie has been supplying a bunch of mob guys with guns that they use to rob banks. Eddie’s friend Dillon (Peter Boyle) runs a local bar and also set up Eddie with the truck heist. Unbeknownst to Eddie, Dillon is also informing for the cops. Eddie struggles to give up the bank robbers, he gives the cops a couple of small timers but it’s not enough. When Eddie finally gives up the mob it’s too late, Dillon already secretly did it and the cops have tossed out Eddie’s deal – he’s going to do time now. And that’s when things get even worse for Eddie.
This is a great film. It’s a slow build and depressing as hell but you’re watching a man in trouble get himself further and further into trouble. Mitchum is fantastic as Eddie as is Peter Doyle’s Dillon. Criterion’s Blu-ray is great as usual. There’s a booklet full of essays about the film and Robert Mitchum (which includes Mitchum recounting the time he peed of David O. Selznick’s rug) and a director’s commentary by Peter Yates made just before he died. This a brilliant crime film, not big on action, in fact there’s only two gunshots the entire film, but it’s well worth discovering.