In our continuing series of 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams, we look at Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
Racing driver turned eclectic director, Peter Yates’ 1973 crime drama is a “schl-epic of lowlife degenerate criminality” (me). Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is a low-level criminal fencing guns to a team of bank robbers, but he has a sentencing hearing coming up and to get the law off his back is considering fielding information to an agent (Robert Jordan).
Based on a novel by George V. Higgins (who also provided the inspiration for Andrew Dominik’s much underrated Killing Them Softly), the characters are unheroic, small minded, treacherous petty criminals who turn to crime out of necessity or failure. Their world is brutal and rife with betrayal, but also utterly credible.
The bank robberies are played out as a studied procedure, underwritten by nerves and panic; the cops are despicable and immoral and everyone looks tired. Even so, Victor Kemper shoots Boston in the Autumn with an eye for beauty in the Hopper-esque diners, the supermarket car parks, or down by the river.
The supporting cast – in particular a young Peter Boyle – are superb, but it is Robert Mitchum as Eddie who seals the deal. No Hollywood star turn, he. Mitchum was a one time novelist, who had little time for acting, and he has a writer’s eye for detail and a consistent contempt for glamour. His Eddie is drab and defeated and desperate and feels utterly true. When he complains to a confederate of how he got his fingers broken – ‘hurt like a bastard’ – you feel for him in more ways than one. His is the portrait of a small time crook in the last days before the water closes over his head. It is grimly perfect and deserves to be seen before you too disappear into the void.
Please note Peter Yates also directed Krull!
For more of our 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams CLICK HERE.
HOLLYWOOD – Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn admitted today that he is fundamentally untrustworthy and likely to cause harm and/or discomfort to anyone around him if it would promote his own self-interest.
Ben Mendelsohn first came to prominence in the brilliant Australian crime film Animal Kingdom where he played the elder brother in a family of criminals, an untrustworthy psychopath who is willing to sacrifice anyone to his own survival. Hollywood soon beckoned and Mendelsohn found himself mixing with some of the biggest stars in the industry. Starring alongside Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly, Mendelsohn was the shady armed robber who was most likely to blab and spill the beans. In The Dark Knight Rises, Mendelsohn played the first of many shady businessmen. In Exodus: Gods and Kings, he plays a corrupt Egyptian bureaucrat, exploiting slaves and robbing from the pharaoh and in Black Sea, he is the least trustworthy crew member of a submarine salvage crew whose dangerous mission to find millions of dollars worth of Nazi gold will be rendered even more dangerous, perhaps ridiculously so, by the untrustworthiness of one of the crew.
Xavier Poulis, Swiss cinema expert and Mendelsohn expert, spoke EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec about the actor:
Most the time you would see an actor like this getting typecast and it’s simply because of the lack of imagination of casting directors who see one element of his performance and want that. But in Ben’s case his untrustworthiness in life is legendary. He’ll steal the sandwich in your hand that you’re eating. I once interviewed him at the Locarno Film Festival and he stole my shoes and persuaded me that Ryan Gosling would grant me an exclusive interview if I met him at a popular cafe in the square wearing only cycling shorts.
Ben Mendelsohn will betray you later this year.
Joe Black is a mob enforcer who has to find out who knocked over Henry Hill’s card game, calling in Tony Soprano to help him out. Richard (oh I like him!) Jenkins and Black argues about The Fugees cover version of the Roberta Flack song.
Albeit the political subtext is as subtle as a kneecapping, Andrew Dominik’s third film is a dime store masterpiece, privileging dialogue over action, characters over plot, intelligence over cliché. You might not like it, but then again you might be a dumb FUCK.