Dennis suggests The Friends of Eddie Coyle (in Incredibly Strange). This 1972 sort-of crime film by Bullitt director Peter Yates has been calling me for a long time. First, Videoport’s the only place you can possibly find it; it’s never really been on DVD*, the tape is long out of print, and we only have it through the we-assume-they-must-be-legal machinations of the decidedly-dodgy DVD company ‘Five Minutes to Live’ (which is also responsible for our excellent selection of
undubbed, completely-berserk Turkish Hollywood knock-offs). Second, it’s got a great, boozy, bleary picture of Robert Mitchum staring out from its home in the Incredibly Strange section, and nobody does boozybleary like Mitchum. So I popped it in and, surprise, Mitchum plays a boozy, bleary criminal! Who knew! And, surprise number two, it’s Mitchum’s best performance ever. Yeah, I said it. Big Bob plays the titular Eddie Coyle, a low-level crook (he supplies guns, occasionally drives a stolen truck for you, that kind of thing) with aspirations to a quiet suburban life, now that he’s getting on and has a wife and growing kids. Problem is, he got busted with that truck, and now he’s staring down the barrel of three-to-five years in federal prison and, at a tired fifty some odd, that’s not something he wants to do. He’s got a sly cop (the excellent Richard Jordan) making him vague promises if he’ll feed the feds some tips on the string of bank robberies hitting the area, a dodgy best pal (Peter Boyle) whom he thinks he can trust, a young gun supplier giving him attitude, and, oh yeah, those bank robbers (who Eddie is actually supplying guns to) wanting, well, more guns. Set in and around 1970’s Boston, the movie has a great, authentically-grubby period feel (believe me- I grew up there and then), with some nice location shooting at T- stations, strip malls, parks, and even the old Boston Garden (in the cheap seats, where metal railings crammed you in like cattle and a drunk Eddie, trying to carry about six beers back to his seat at a Bruins game, has some trouble). And Mitchum lives in this world with such slobby ease that you believe every mumbled word that comes out of his mouth. Great little movie.
*Stop the presses! (Or whatever the intra-nets writes things on): the good folks at the Criterion Collection have jyst, this past week, released their typically-deluxe edition of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, so you can enjoy it without their competitor Five Minutes to Live’s taped-off-broadcast-TV quality picture (seriously, there’s a station identification bullet in the corner of the screen at one point).