The Friends of Eddie Coyle: Because Great Movies Are Few & Far Between
Some Words From Brave Blog’s Chief Idiot: If you have ever checked the links I’ve provided for other sites on the right of screen you will see one for The Death Valley Driver Review Message Board. What started as a little forum for fans of pro-wrestling to congregate online and gripe about what they hated in pro-wrestling at that point in time, morphed into something so much more. Sure wrestling get talked up, a lot, but so do many other topics. Film is one of these things, from classics of the 30s & 40s, all the way to what got released last weekend. There are a lot of people on that message board that love the movies. There are those that watch and write up reviews for what has become The Death Valley Driver Video Review Movie Club. People volunteer for this and write about why the movie they selected is important to them and why why, at the very least, you should give the movie being discussed a try. I recently volunteered to write about a movie for the DVDVRMC. The movie I chose is no lightweight. So here I share with you my movie of choice
The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of those movies that I had always heard other people talking about. Usually people slightly older than me who really liked films of the 70s. It was always on my “Must Watch List” but I never seemed to get around to it, as I can get easily distracted. Ironically what got me to finally sit down and choose to review it was the South Boston episode of No Reservations. When I was trying to figure out what movie to actually sit and talk about, that episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show was on and he adores the movie. I took that as a sign to sit and finally watch this movie. Every person who has ever mentioned the movie to me talks about how gritty it is and how it captures the feel of Boston in the 70s, especially the South Side.
The leads are guys who you can buy as being legitimately tough. Robert Mitchum has always had the tough guy aura about him dating back to the 50s He plays Eddie Coyle, a gun-supplier for small stick-up crews. The thing is, Eddie is on the verge of being sent away for a stretch for a botched hi-jacking. He is a guy that has been around the block. This isn’t “tough guy” Mitchum as you might be used to seeing. He even looks a little doughy, just further making you feel a sort of vibe that Eddie Coyle is a criminal but a working man’s criminal. Then you have Alex Rocco and Peter Boyle. Boyle is just so believable as Dillon, an old Irish fixer who sets up jobs for other low level crews. Boyle comes off as shrewd and tough, a little tough than Eddie is. Hell this movie made me scared to meet Peter Boyle in a dark alley, he just comes off so tough.
Alex Rocco is Jimmy Scalise, the leader of a crew of bank robbers that gets their gear from Eddie Coyle. The opening of the movie is Scalise essentially casing a bank for a future heist. Eddie Coyle gets the gear for the job from a local gunrunner named Jackie Brown. Jackie is played by Steven Keats, who just exudes this sort of sleaziness for the part. His vibe is totally different than Boyle’s (hard and scary) and Scalise’s (smart in the fact that he is a planner). You have all these guys all working for and against each other. Coyle pays Brown for guns, Scalise buys the guns from Coyle and hen everyone pays up to Dillon after everything is done. The thing is, everyone is looking to screw the other guy over at some point because no one trusts one another.
Because of this prick in the FBI named Dave Foley played by Richard Jordan. Foley wants Coyle to turn informer on the local Boston fixer. Coyle doesn’t know that Dillon, the fixer, is already informing for Foley. Coyle thinks he has an ace up his sleeve by being able to turn over Scalise and his crew but Dillon is already ahead of him on that. It ain’t like Foley is keeping quiet about it to Dillon for that matter. Its just a matter of who finds out they are getting fucked over first and who will pay for snitching in the end.
These aren’t spoilers. All of this is laid out in the movie. You know Dillon is informing, you know Coyle is trying to avoid going to jail so he is willing to sellout both Jackie Brown and Dillon. There I no mystery or big reveal. You are just watching it all play out and hope that somehow Eddie Coyle comes out ahead, even though deep down the odds are stacked against him.
I love Robert Mitchum in this movie so much. When he first comes onscreen and tells Steven Keats’ Jackie Brown about why he has nickname “Eddie Fingers”, you just get the vibe of Eddie Coyle right off the bat. He’s careful, but maybe hasn’t always been so. He’s on he verge of going to jail but is still gunrunning because he has a family to feed. He is a criminal but working criminal i.e. gunrunning is his forte but he really isn’t making money off of it. Robert Mitchum’s hound-dog face in this movie just sells Eddie Coyle even more. He is tough when he needs to be but he’d rather just do what he has to do and pray that the cops don’t bust him.
As much as I love Mitchum in this, the guy who just kills in this is Peter Boyle as Dillon . Dillon is a rat bastard, but his vibe is so contradictory at times. He is laid back but a hard ass. He gives Eddie an ear to bend about his legal troubles but isn’t above ratting him out to the feds. Peter Boyle comes off as tough in this because Dillon is sneaky bastard that has some authority and he didn’t get there by being nice. He is all business and his business is looking out for Dillon.
This is a movie I’m glad I finally watched. It is a true “Crime” movie, not a “Mob” movie. Hey I love The Godfather to death but it really is about how the upper crust of crime keep their hands clean. The Friends of Eddie Coyle is about people who are already too dirty simply based on their upbringing and surroundings. Eddie, Dillon, Scalise and even Jackie Brown don’t need their histories explored any further. They are South Side Boston and they know that the odds of them not being that anytime soon are against them. They just do what they do because it is what they know and to them, that is just the way it is. That’s just life.
I really loved this movie and am going to make as many friends of mine watch it as possible. Now I know why people talk about this movie. They do so because it is just that good.