I rewatched The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) last night.
I was searching the Showtime movie menu for something to watch, and it seemed to have several dozen A24 movies that, I swear to you, I had never heard of.
I’d look up some of them and they’d be like 87% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. And yet I had no idea what it was or who the filmmaker was—this is a tough business!
Others sounded cool and I’d look them up and they’d be sitting at 23%. So no wonder I never heard of it.
I couldn’t work up the interest to sit through any of them...when I saw Eddie Coyle on the menu.
Wow, this is a good movie.
I had never even heard it, I’m embarrassed to say, until we were doing a lot of work on Paramount CDs maybe 10–15 years ago. My friend Jeff Cava (R.I.P.), who worked there, invited me to watch a print, and I said sure.
Boy, was I confused. Watching the fairly low-fi, slow-burn opening act, I was wondering, was this some lame 1970s exploitation picture worth a few yuks?
As we got halfway through it dawned on me: no, this is excellent!
I had confused its dry naturalism with being boring—but this was right up my alley.
I loved modern-day crime shows like The Wire, and this was a direct precursor, with the objective scrutiny (and 100% location shooting) of organized crime.
Robert Mitchum plays a low-level hood, Eddie Coyle, trying to provide for his family and get himself out of an upcoming prison sentence by selling guns to bank robbers, and concurrently trying to sell information to a Treasury agent (the wonderful Richard Jordan).
The “Friends” of the title are all the people Eddie knows, who are, in truth, anything but his friends.
The filmmaking by Peter Yates is pitch-perfect and I could watch it all day.
As a born-and-bred New Englander, it’s also high nostalgia to see all of those Boston-era locations in their crummy authenticity circa the winter of 1972. There’s even some footage inside the old Boston Garden at a real-life Bruins game.
So bravo to everybody involved in this movie.
It also reminds me to watch Bullitt again, also directed by Peter Yates on real locations, even though—we all know this is true—what the hell is the deal with the imposter anyway?
When I saw Eddie Coyle I was at a unique moment in time for a lifelong soundtrack fan where I heard the Dave Grusin score, thought it was fantastic—peak 1970s crime Grusin—and could immediately ask, “Can we put this out?”