For my money, the best single decade for American film was in the 1970s—an era that includes such works as The Conversation,Paper Moon,Badlands,Days of Heaven, Charley Varrick,The French Connection,A Clockwork Orange,and the first two Godfathers.
All of these highly praised movies are out on DVD, and some have even gone thorough several iterations in their releases—all, except for The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
Directed by Peter Yates (best known for his Breaking Away), and taken from the book by George V. Higgins, the movie has been difficult, truly difficult to find. I’d last seen it some ten years ago, and didn’t think I’d be seeing it again anytime soon. That is, until its recent Criterion release.
Available again: Robert Mitchum as an aging gunrunner forced by circumstances to snitch on his criminal “friends. ” Mitchum, who could be a wonderful actor (that is, if he believed in the project), gives what’s arguably his best performance in Coyle, outside of his much earlier The Night of the Hunter.
The film co-stars the underrated Peter Boyle and Richard Jordan, both of whom more than pull their weight. The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a welcome addition to the 70s canon.
Bio: Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @meakinarmstrong.