My Review of ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ (1973)

This is another movie I haven’t seen for quite a while, but had a chance to revisit recently. One of the interesting things about it is that it opens with scenes from a bank heist. But what seems to start off as a heist movie is actually a neo-noir crime film.

Nice disguise! 🙂 (Image vis Film Fetish.)

Basically, Eddie Coyle (played by a downtrodden-looking Robert Mitchum) is a two-bit hood (and family man with a wife, maybe a child tucked away somewhere) working for Boston’s Irish mob. He’s the one who provides the guns for the bank heist that opens the film and (presumably) the other bank robberies that are sprinkled throughout the movie.

“Look at me. I’m downtrodden as can be.” (Image via Best Actor.)

So, anyway, he’s doing business (or trying to) with a guy named Jackie Brown. Sound familiar? 🙂 Well, this one’s a male and he’s played by Steven Keats (not a woman played by Pam Grier, although ironically or not she too works for a gun runner).

While Eddie’s trying to do business, he’s also dealing with the feds and facing sentencing on federal criminal charges for driving a truck full of stolen liquor. A job he picked up from his so-called friend, a bartender (played by Peter Boyle). He’s desperate to avoid prison time, particularly since he’d be unable to support his wife, and the last thing he wants is for her to go to work or go on welfare. So he tries to make a deal. He’s willing to set up a weapons buyer (or actually buyers—one male, one female, both clueless young hippies), in exchange for a lighter sentence. Anything but the Big House.

“Let’s make a deal.” (Image via Vagabond’s Movie Screen Shots.)

Unfortunately for Eddie he doesn’t listen quite closely enough to the deal being offered. The guy he’s dealing with offers to try to get the prosecutor to recommend a lighter sentence.. That’s not quite the same as promising it’ll happen The truth of the matter is that Eddie Coyle doesn’t stand a chance of getting off easy, given his past crimes. Not in exchange for the relatively lame case offered up to the prosecutor.

On top of which, even if the prosecutor could be persuaded to make such a pitch, the judge is still free to reject it. So, what kind of deal can Eddie really count on?

The other awful truth of the story is that Eddie Coyle doesn’t have any real friends. And the one person he turns to as a confidante (the bartender) … well, let’s just say that he doesn’t have Eddie’s best interests at heart.

A couple of Eddie’s non-friends. (Image via Vagabond’s Movie Screen Shots.)

The ending is as noir as it gets. You can see it coming. And it’s hardly a spoiler to say that Eddie doesn’t get what he wants in the end. Or maybe he gets the best he can expect, depending on how you look at it.

And when Eddie meets his fate, there’s this cool shot outside the bowling alley. And the neon signs are as neo-noir as it gets. And the candlepins are as as New England as it gets.

Naturally, you can see the tenpins, but the candlepins sign is blurry. (Image via Retro Road Map.)

For what it’s worth, this was directed by the same guy who directed Bullitt. Some might say it’s a better film. Well, I don’t know … it’s a very good film. Depressing as hell, but good.

This trailer demonstrates just how 70s this movie is!

PS: You may recognize a few of the actors of that time, including Dennis from The Rockford Files Joe Santos.

“Hey, where’s Jimbo?” (Image via Pinterest.)

And props go to Helena Carroll, as Eddie’s long-suffering, but amenable wife. Hers is a standout performance, and not just because so many of the guys in this film look, dress, and act alike. 🙂

The wife who’s not on welfare, thank you very much! (Image vis Theater Byte.)

* * *

Directed by Peter Yates
Produced by Paul Monash 
Screenplay by Paul Monash (based on the novel by George V. Higgins)

This entry was posted in 1970s Films, Crime Drama, Movie Reviews, Neo-Noir and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Review of ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ (1973)

  1. Liam says:

    I really love this movie. The Godfather shows the glamorous life for those at the top of the ladder in organized crime but The Friends of Eddie Coyle is the gritty (and frankly miserable) life of the ordinary foot soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As with you, I haven’t seen this movie in forever, but I certainly remember it. It’s an odd but satisfying mix of film noir, the perhaps overly-obtuse then-avant-gardeness of the 60s, and the harshness-of-life infusion of the 70s. Very much a period piece, but much more than that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      I was struck by how much of a period piece it is. It has all these actors in smaller roles who were just part of that late 60s/early 70s scene.

      And the authenticity of the setting. The bit about not wanting his wife to stoop to taking a job or being on welfare. So very much attitudes of the time and place.

      Plus the clothes and the hair. 🙂 And the cars!

      And Mitchum. God, was he perfect in the role or what? 🙂

      This movie is, in certain respects, almost too real …

      Liked by 1 person

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