Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di George V. Higgins. Scen.: Paul Monash. F.: Victor J. Kemper. M.: Patricia Lewis Jaffe. Scgf.: Gene Callahan. Mus.: Dave Grusin. Int.: Robert Mitchum (Eddie Coyle), Peter Boyle (Dillon), Richard Jordan (Dave Foley), Steven Keats (Jackie Brown), Alex Rocco (Jimmy Scalise), Joe Santos (Artie Van), Mitchell Ryan (Waters). Prod.: Paul Monash per Paramount Pictures 35mm. D.: 102’. Col.
Young film fans raised in the multiplex era may look back and lament the fact that no one is making movies like The Friends of Eddie Coyle anymore. The truth is that they never did. There’s only this one.
In the winter of 1972-73, producer Paul Monash, Brit director Peter Yates and an ensemble of actors that included Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan and Robert Mitchum, tried to give us the real screen equivalent of criminal lawyer George V. Higgins’ first novel. The immersion was almost total: the production at times was at the mercy of mob-connected teamsters, Mitchum was rumored to hang out with Boston Irish crime kingpin Whitey Bulger, who would later be played on the screen by Jack Nicholson and Johnny Depp. Although the film had a bank heist and a kinetic arrest attempt in a parking lot, it was mostly a succession of weary and wary conversations over plexiglass tabletops. A middleman bargains with a gunrunner, the gunrunner bargains with hopeful bank robbers, a cop bargains with his stoolie, and the stoolie bargains with the man who works for the Man. Higgins’ book was all dialogue, characters telling us about themselves by the way they told the story to others. Somehow, Yates achieved the same through other means. The underworld never looked so mundane, human and fatalistic as in this movie. Mitchum, playing an aging second-string hood, capable but clearly over his head in trying to stay out of jail, is at the top of his craft.