The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

friends of eddie coyle poster 1973 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great crime drama

Not a huge fan of gangster films personally

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Studio:   Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):   Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):   June 26, 1973

MPAA Rating:   R

friends of eddie coyle robert mitchum beer drinking

I’ll just wallow in my beer….

Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) is a two bit hood known as Eddie Fingers who is facing jail for a botched job.  Forced to work as an informant to the ATF with agent Dave Foley (Richard Jordan), Eddie finds himself trapped between his “partners” as they continue to do more and more dangerous jobs and the ATF who could potentially keep him out of jail.  Eddie’s got to decide who his friends are and not knowing could be deadly.

Directed by Peter Yates, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a crime-thriller.  The film is based on the 1972 novel by George V. Higgins and released to critical acclaim.  A remastered version of the film has been released as part of the Criterion Collection (Criterion #475).

Late ’60s and early ’70s movies are some of my favorite films.  I had not seen The Friends of Eddie Coyle but heard about it and found it completely in my wheelhouse…but I didn’t love the movie.  With that, you might think the movie is bad, but it is nearly perfect.

friends of eddie coyle bank robbers masks


My problem with The Friends of Eddie Coyle is personal.  I’m just not a huge gangster film guy.  Almost all of the best of the gangster films, I can enjoy, but I just can’t love (The Godfather and The Godfather Part II might be an exception…but it took a while to get there).  The crime and intrigue is all there.  You have different people playing different sides and Eddie, is the perfect schmuck.

Mitchum is perfect in the movie because of his looks.  While he usually plays the tough guy, he’s great as the sad-sack lowly gunrunner.  He claims to be 50 in the movie (he’s really little closer to 60 but looks 70), but you could see someone like him so beaten down being prematurely aged.  He’s paired up against a great “villain” in Peter Boyle who is willing to stab him in the back with little remorse.

friends of eddie coyle hockey game robert mitchum peter boyle

At least I have you…you’re my best friend

The movie is also visually something I like.  The gritty ’70s look has everything looking dirty and drab.  Everything looks cold and depressing in Coyle’s life (though his family life seems to be an only escape…despite his children looking down on him).  It is fitting that a sad, broken man ends his last moments of life dying at a bowling alley alone…something no one expects or dreams will happen when they are young.

I should love The Friends of Eddie Coyle.  I totally recognize it is good, it looks great, and the acting is top notch, but I can’t say I love it…it is one of those movies that would do better from a second viewing or even a third to get down the nuances in the performances and script.  I’m just not big of a gangster film fan and a lot of what Eddie Coyle is a hardboiled gangster film.  I kind of feel myself glazing over as I watch it instead of loving the ’70s look and style.  I still highly recommend the movie…even if I don’t love it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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