Friends of Eddie Coyle DVD/Blu-ray

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00 Written by 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle - out now on a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD releaseBased on a novel by crime writer George V. Higgins, this movie stars Hollywood tough guy Robert Mitchum (“Cape Fear”, “The Night of the Hunter”) as the eponymous aging gangster. Coyle is due to be sentenced for a recent misdemeanour and is desperate to avoid another stretch. As a gun runner he has a lot of criminal contacts and senses he can buy a pardon by turning a few of them over to the police, but at what price?

Directed by Peter Yates (“Bullitt”, “Krull”), the film is fashioned in a very naturalistic, believable style that is aided by Mitchum’s relaxed, slightly burnt-out performance. Eddie Coyle is an experienced criminal whose edges have been dulled and he seems more interested in providing for his family than he does getting rich through a dangerous lifestyle.

His primary ‘friends’ in the business include twitchy gun supplier Jackie Brown (Steven Keats – “Death Wish”), bar owner-cum-hitman Dillon (Peter Boyle – “Taxi Driver”) and master bank robber Jimmy Scalise (Alex Rocco – “The Godfather”). His police contact is Dave Foley (Richard Jordan – “Logan’s Run”), who promises to put in a good word for Coyle if his tip-offs result in some high-value arrests.

I am not entirely sure how I feel about this movie. On the positive side, the sense of realism is quite refreshing in contrast to the overblown, hyper-tense and ultra-violent genre movies from the likes of Martin Scorsese. Mitchum is excellent and there are a few quite tense moments including a stake-out by a railway and several bank heists.

On the other hand, it does not feel to me like there is much sense of momentum, and the film arrives at its conclusion with far less drama than expected. In one of the interviews included in the special features, comments are made about the story being pared down; perhaps my tastes have been dulled by too many modern crime movies and TV series and that explains why I feel “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” needs a little more seasoning.

The restored Blu-ray version is incredibly detailed and although the film is set in late autumn, when most of the colour and leaves have fallen from the trees, the pin-sharp drabness compliments the lack of glamour in the protagonists’ lives.

Special features include:

  • Restored, high-definition digital transfer
  • Uncompressed monaural sound on the Blu-ray
  • A new video appreciation of the film by critic Glenn Kenny
  • A 1996 career-spanning on-stage interview with Peter Yates hosted by critic Derek Malcolm
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • 44-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by critic Mike Sutton; an extensive interview with Yates, and archival images

“The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973) is out now on dual-format DVD and Blu-ray (two discs), courtesy of Eureka. The main feature has a running time of 102 minutes approx, carries an '15' certificate and retails for £17.95, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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