Sunday, July 12, 2009

THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (Peter Yates, 1973, USA) Eddie “Fingers” Coyle is a victim of his bad decisions, an aging small time washed up criminal who is staring down a 3 to 6 years State sentence: with friends like his who needs enemies? Robert Mitchum’s heartfelt and hangdog performance comes straight from the heart as he imbues Coyle with equal parts sympathy and despicable tendencies: a man concerned about his wife and children going on Welfare while he’s incarcerated but still running guns to bank robbers. Eddie Coyle’s scarred hands are testament to his battered past, and his grim and weary dialogue endows his wisdom upon a newcomer to the racket. But there is no honor among thieves, and Coyle just can’t do lengthy time upstate so he turns informer. Director Peter Yates has crafted one of the most realistic crime dramas of the era, eschewing melodrama and shiny set pieces for the gritty and narrow streets, the dirty beer joints and traffic jams of Boston. This cinema verite style heightens the tension and allows direct access to the emotional firepower of the narrative. The story is actually written by a Prosecutor and Detective Dave Foley is one of the most realistic fictional investigators ever captured on celluloid. Richard Jordan as Foley is straight talking and honest, never making a promise that he knows he can’t keep: this is no CSI crap that infuriates those of us in Law Enforcement! As Coyle finally gives up the young gunrunner he hopes for consideration of his sentence, but the DA needs something more…and Coyle sacrifices his last ounce of self-esteem and becomes a nark. He finally agrees to give up the bank robbers but a “friend” beats him to the punch: a man who Coyle stood up for now becomes his executioner. The final act at Boston Gardens gives us a classic game between the Bruins and the Blackhawks: witness vintage footage of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Wayne Cashman, Stan Mikita, and Tony Esposito! But it’s Coyle’s grand finale as he is put to rest with a single shot to the head, a killing that happens off-screen but the rapport echoes within our soul: we feel sorry for this bum. (A)

No comments: