The Friends of Eddie Coyle

The Friends of Eddie Coyle ★★★★★

#23 of 30

Nearing the end of a great month of noir, or noir-like films, and this is my favorite new discovery. I've been a fan of Mitchum since I was a kid, but I was unaware of this movie until a few years ago, but it kept going on the back burner until I just bought a copy to force my hand. What a dope, I am. This ranks right up with French Connection, Long Goodbye, but also The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, & Touchez Pas au Grisbi, as not only a portrait of an aging criminal, but also a glitz-free depiction of the lifestyle. Were this just a great Mitchum vehicle it would still be well remembered, but what also stands out is a near perfect supporting cast. Whether Mitchum's Eddie is onscreen, or it's Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco, Joe Santos, or Richard Jordan, you are equally drawn in. Especially when it's Steven Keats as Jackie Brown, the gun salesman; his scenes stand out in a movie filled with stand out performances. I haven't read the George Higgins novel, but I've read that the film follows it pretty closely. Elmore Leonard liked it enough to name his main character in Rum Punch after Jackie Brown.

Yates provides very sure-handed direction and never let's scenes spin out of control for effect. Several scenes really stand out; the robbery scenes are all tense and effective, but Eddie's first monologue about "an extra set of knuckles" to Jackie Brown is a lesson in low key menace. The final scene, which you understand is coming almost from the beginning of the film, is handled with a wonderful economy of motion and dialog. There are no big action scenes, but there's tension and the threat of violence in nearly all of them. If, like me, you keep looking at this thinking "I'll get around to that someday," then make "someday" today. You won't regret it.

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