Blu-ray review: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan
Director: Peter Yates

Godfather of the likes of Fargo, The Wire and even Reservoir Dogs, this adaptation of George V. Higgins’ classic crime novel showcases the author’s rhythmical, laconic dialogue and leery, jaundiced view of human nature, while director Peter Yates shows an eye for the humdrum and seedy as he evokes a world of small-time hoodlums and hustlers. An excellent Robert Mitchum rolls back the years to his halcyon film noir days in the role of doomed protagonist Eddie “Fingers” Coyle, a low rent felon facing a long stretch in jail who is tempted to try and keep himself out of the slammer by giving up a gang of bank robbers to the cops. Really, though, it’s an ensemble piece, with a cast of character actors familiar from other prime slices of ’70s cinema giving chillingly convincing turns as the “friends” (in heavy inverted commas) of the title – urbane, morally shadowy, deadly and dead-eyed as sharks. The ending is breathakingly downbeat and nihilistic even by ’70s standards, but the film doesn’t stint on tension with slow-burning set-pieces, including a grippingly cold and clinical heist. 8/10

A little soft and grainy in some of the two shots and dimly lit interiors, but the exteriors have a nice sparkle and Yate’s more ambitious compositions (as in the shot from inside the robbers’ car just before the heist) come across very crisply. 7/10

Lengthy interview with Peter Yates recorded in front of a live audience in the 1990s. Slightly juddery audio, but the director is on excellent form chatting about, among other things, Steve McQueen and the value of having a writer on set. ~ 22-min piece with film critic Glenn Kenny, who has some interesting things to say not only about the movie but about Higgins’ novel. 9/10