The next two installments of Movie Week are crime films. Who doesn’t love a good crime film? Doesn’t everyone secretly wish they could disregard societal norms and be a bad guy? Criminals make for compelling stories.
Oddly enough The Friends of Eddie Coyle wasn’t the first crime film from 1973 that I’d watched this week, that would be Charley Varrick. But since I’d already seen Charley Varrick it was excluded from this project, which is about seeing a film for the first time.
Which brings us to The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
Because I’d just watched Charley Varrick, I was caught slightly off guard by The Friends of Eddie Coyle and how well it’s aged. It holds up surprisingly well for a film that’s four decades old.
And it really lives up to it’s name. It’s about the friends of Eddie Coyle. It’s the story of some clever bank robbers, a gun dealer and the titular character who is down on his luck. Eddie provides the connective tissue between the stories.
What really got my attention and let me know I was in for a different experience was when I saw that Robert Mitchum’s Coyle didn’t have a hot wife. That’s how I knew it wasn’t a vanity project; he had an entirely age appropriate wife.
And as things progress it becomes obvious that Coyle’s a working criminal who is just trying to stay one step ahead of things. It’s almost crushing to watch some of his scenes. He doesn’t want to go to jail and he’s doing everything he can to get out the jam, but at the same time he’s proud and a loyal friend. Seeing his desperation grow and the pressure mounts is tragic.
Then you have the ending. I know that it’s a film that’s been around for over 40 years, but I still won’t spoil it. Needless to say, I didn’t quite believe that what was happening happened. It was literal disbelief, yet the ending was inevitable.
Robert Mitchum got a ton of praise for his performance and deserved so. It would have been easy to play Coyle as a sad sack, but Mitchum instills him with this humanity and honor that’s impossible not to recognize. Honestly, he’s like a forbearer to Al Pacino’s Lefty in Donnie Brasco.
I’m genuinely glad that I checked out The Friends of Eddie Coyle and I’m kicking myself for not watching it sooner.