The Friends of Eddie Coyle


The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)


Critic Consensus: The Friends of Eddie Coyle sees Robert Mitchum in transformative late-career mode in a gritty and credible character study.


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Movie Info

Based on the best-selling novel by George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle chronicles the last days of a weary Boston-based weapons dealer. Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) doesn't want to serve a life sentence in prison, so he becomes an informant for both the police and the treasury department. Coyle is likewise unwilling to give up his lifestyle, thus he continues his illegal gun-running operation for the underworld. The mob becomes aware that Eddie is squealing to the cops, so they send his best friend, Dillon (Peter Boyle), to rub him out. Dillon compassionately takes Eddie out on the town, treating him to dinner and a hockey game...then drives to a deserted field to carry out his orders. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Friends of Eddie Coyle

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (5)

A very fine film about real people on the fringes of both crime and law enforcement.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The cast lend the film an authority that Yates' curiously pedestrian approach fails to provide.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A good, tough, unsentimental movie about the last days of a small-time Boston hood.

May 9, 2005 | Full Review…

A daft and insightful look at the gray world between criminal and straight.

May 3, 2003 | Full Review…

Director Peter Yates' backdrops of the working-class outskirts of Boston during the shabbiest part of the 1970s are unparalleled.

Jan 2, 2018 | Full Review…

A bit gruesome, but potent viewing nonetheless.

Aug 14, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Eddie Fingers finally set free after being beaten around the bush (to save him from serving several years of prison life) by a cunning ATF agent. "Everybody ought to listen to his mother." Okay.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

Above average mid period Mitchum drama. Very dated in look now but that adds to the feeling of the story. Excellent cast of character actors, most of whom were just starting out at the time.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Seventies noir that owes much of the austerity and realism to the cold city of Boston as well as to the the french crime thrillers of Jean Pierre Melville mostly to the superb "Le Doulos" as the character study of a man moving between two factions, Robert Mitchum as an old, weary weapons dealer turned into an informant to keep himself free from a conviction he thinks would be his last. The street prose of writer George Higgins, and Peter Yates' minimalist direction are the stronger points of this notable film.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a very good example of gritty 1970s Hollywood. It's also a great example of how a crime film should be made: methodically, with an emphasis on mood and behavior, instead and thrills and violence. Director Peter Yates' (yep, the same Peter Yates that did Krull...) carefully observed, yet mercurially pace establishes the perfect tapestry from which this story springboards from. Most films portray crime as a shady, shadowy, if not seductive venture; this film treats it as a form of day labor -- out in the open, with nothing to hide (be it a corner bar, or a supermarket parking lot). Of course the film's lynchpin is Robert Mitchum (have I mentioned that I love him?). He often gets criticized for being lazy and uncaring in his performances. I contend that he's such a good actor, that he never overacts or calls attention to his emoting, that it throws people off. You'll never see him be showy, but he finds truth in every moment. He's subtle and nuanced, not "performative." He won't boast and yell in typical Oscar bait fashion, but watch his eyes sometime -- they say more than many actors' entire bodies could ever say. Eddie Coyle is a great example of this idea, and it just so happens to be one of Mitchum's finest roles, completely stripping down the brazen masculinity that had made him popular He's an aging, grounded, unsentimental, down-on-his-luck man who's trying to beat one last rap. There's both a quiet desperation and a sense of urgency behind every one of his lines. Mitchum died in 1997 and it's hard not to think of his bellowing steel baron in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man as his final bow. Yet, watching him take in a Bruins game, drinking a few beers and chanting "Number Four! Bobby Orr!" before his bartender friend takes him home for the night, it's even harder to consider The Friend of Eddie Coyle as anything less than Mitchum's true swan song.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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