47 FILMS: 7. THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE

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.

REMAKE WATCH: KRULL

HOLLYWOOD – Remake Watch is a new feature where we keep a close eye on films that look like they might inspire a remake, but have yet to appear in the dreaded IMDB pre-production lists.

This week Krull. This British made fantasy film starred Ken Marshall – who later achieved world fame as Chuck in an episode of Baywatch– as Colwyn a prince whose wedding day is interrupted by Slayers sent by the Beast to kidnap his bride to be Lyssa and take her away in his flying fortress from where Colwyn with the help of Freddie Jones and Liam Neeson (?), a Cyclops and a little boy called Titch, oh and a magic flying shuriken called the Glavis will eventually rescue her (SPOILER ALERT for back there).
Directed by Peter Yates of Bullitt fameand written by one of the original writers of the Batman TV series, Krull is a film of practical effects, dodgy back projection and hammy theatrics and is ripe for a mediocre but bafflingly successful remake. Why?
  1. People vaguely remember it but haven’t actually seen it and so probably have affection for at least the idea of it. Young people will not have seen it and so will think it is ‘original’.
  2. It’s named after a planet.
  3. Liam Neeson can reprise his original role.
  4. CGI effects of the flying castle and the Glavis will look great while utterly lacking the charm of the original.