Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973) New England Neo Noir

With friends like these you don't need enemies.

Directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt (1968)). Screenplay by Paul Monash based on the book by George V. Higgins. Cinematography by Victor J. Kemper and Music by
Dave Grusin (The Nickel Ride (1974), Mulholland Falls (1996)). 

The film stars Robert Mitchum (veteran of eight Classic Noir, and, Cape Fear (1962)The Yakuza (1974), Farewell My Lovely (1975), The Big Sleep (1978), ), Peter Boyle (Crazy Joe (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Hardcore (1979), Hammett (1982)), Richard Jordan (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), The Yakuza (1974), Delusion (1991)), Alex Rocco (Motorpsycho! (1965), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), The Godfather (1972)), Steven Keats (Death Wish (1974), Black Sunday (1977)), Mitchell Ryan (Dark Shadows TV Series (1966–1971)TV ), Electra Glide in Blue (1973), and Joe Santos (Flesh and Lace (1965), The Panic in Needle Park (1971), Blue Thunder (1983), The Sopranos TV Series (1999–2007)).

Eddie  "Fingers" Coyle
Eddie "Fingers" Coyle (Mitchum). A small time wiseguy. Lives in an older, rundown, Dorchester, Boston neighborhood. He's got a wife and three kids. Eddie's got loads of "friends."

Jimmy Scalise (Rocco) 

Artie Van (Santos)
Currently he's a middleman supplying untraceable guns to a bunch of freelance goomba bank robbers Jimmy Scalise (Rocco) and Artie Van (Santos).

Jackie Brown (Keats)
The gunrunner is Jackie Brown (Keats). Jackie runs around in a muscle car a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. Jackie gets his goods from a junkie who boosts what Jackie needs from gun shops up in New Hampshire. When Eddie gets anxious about the next "package" Jackie asks Eddie why he's in such a hurry?

Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle: One of the first things I learned is never to ask a man why he's in a hurry. All you got to know is I told the man that he could depend on me because you told me I could depend on you. Now one of us is gonna have a big fat problem. Another thing I learned. If anybody's gonna have a problem, you're gonna be the one.
Jackie Brown: You finished?
Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle: No, I am not finished. Look, I'm gettin' old, you hear? I spent most of my life hanging around crummy joints with a buncha punks drinkin' the beer, eatin' the hash and the hot dogs and watchin' the other people go off to Florida while I'm sweatin' out how I'm gonna pay the plumber. I done time and I stood up but I can't take no more chances. Next time, it's gonna be me goin' to Florida.

Dillon (Boyle)

Dillon and Foley (Jordan)
Eddie Coyle is also a stoolie. He feeds lawman Dave Foley (Jordan) underworld table scraps hoping to get out of doing time for a truck jacking job he got pinched for up in New Hampshire. That job was supposed to be "a pipe", easy money. Coyle did it for for another mobbed up hood named Dillon (Boyle). Dillon runs a downtown bar, but he doesn't have the liquor license. That license is held by a third party. Dillon is also a freelance hit man and he's passing info to Foley too. Eeh, forgedaboudit, this outfit is the "gang that couldn't shoot straight." There is no honor among these thieves.

When it comes down to the wire for his date at court, Eddie Coyle tries to get some bargaining chips from Foley.

Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle: I was thinkin' in terms of you maybe talkin' to the prosecutor up there, and havin' him drop a word to the judge how I been helpin' my Uncle like a bastard?
Dave Foley: Well, I would. But then again you haven't been.
Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle: What? I gave you a couple of calls.
Dave Foley: Yeah, you give me some real stuff, too. You tell me about a guy that's gonna get hit, 15 minutes later he gets hit. You tell me about some guys on a job, but you don't tell me till their coming out the door with the money. That's not helping Uncle, Eddie. You gotta put your whole soul into it.

Eddie in desperation feeds Foley a tip about a hippie couple who wants to buy machine guns. He rats out Jackie. When Foley tells him that it's not enough, Eddie then rats out Scalise and Van, but Foley has already arrested them from a tip he got through Dillon.

Eddie 'Fingers' Coyle: I shoulda known better than to trust a cop. My own goddamn mother coulda told me that.
Dave Foley: Everybody oughta listen to his mother.

A mob enforcer meets with Dillon who tells him that Scalise thinks Eddie Coyle fingered them to the cops. Dillon isn't going argue since that will take the heat off him. The mob wants Eddie dead and Dillon is picked to do the hit.

Mitchell Ryan 


Mitchum eyes perpetually at half mast now gives off a look more world weary than that of a cool nonchalance of his earlier roles. He's very convincing as the two time loser faced with doing some serious time.  Boyle is good as the unassuming, under the radar, hit man. Rocco is believable as the lead bank robber, Santos equally as his second banana. Keats steals all the scenes he's in, and Jordan plays the manipulating lawman well.

The film really captures the ambiance of the dives and dumps of the South end of Boston in the early 1970's. Screenshots are from the Criterion DVD. 7/10

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