THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973)
1973 was a banner year for movies. The runaway box office champ was THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, and THE STING took home the Best Picture Oscar. Other releases included THE EXORCIST, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, Martin Scorcese's MEAN STREETS, Bruce Lee's ENTER THE DRAGON, MAGNUM FORCE (the second Dirty Harry outing), LIVE AND LET DIE, THE LAST DETAIL, Peckinpah's PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, GODSPELL, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE SEVEN UPS, the animated children's film CHARLOTTE'S WEB, DON'T LOOK NOW, WESTWORLD and PAPILLON
- all of which would become bonafied classics. So it's ironic that
amongst that list, one of the most critically acclaimed films of that
year - one which would influence movie making the next three decades
- would become one the most obscure; seldom seen on cable or network
television and never available on home video until 2009. Such was the
fate of THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE.
Alternately described as "classic neo-noir", "the film Tarantino
wishes he could make", "a nightmare movie about the criminal underworld"
and "the best of the minimalist 70s crime films" director Peter Yates'
brooding, slow-burner-of-a-character-based-thriller follows former mob
tough guy and current Boston based gunrunner Eddie "Fingers" Coyle (a
world weary Robert Mitchum) after he's been busted for a
hijacking and attempts to stay out of Federal prison by diming out his
friends and business associates (particularly a violent gang of bank
robbers pulling a brazen and deadly series of daylight heists) to a
young ATF agent (Richard Jordon). Coyle walks this life threatening tightrope all the while trying to broker one last lucrative arms deal.
* The film is a faithful adaptation of the 1972 debut novel by Boston's own George V. Higgins - then an Asst. U.S. District Attorney. At the time it was debated whether "Eddie" Coyle was a fictionalized version of "Billy" O'Brien
- the real life former Boston bank robber ex-con who after his release
was suspected by his former associates of being a turncoat. O'Brien's
murder was never solved.
* THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE was helmed by British born Peter Yates (who passed away in January 2011). Known for an eclectic body of work including THE DEEP (1977), BREAKING AWAY (1979), KRULL (1983), THE DRESSER (1983) and SUSPECT (1987), it was specifically his previous films of the era, all of them within the crime milieu, which lead to EDDIE COYLE: 1967's ROBBERY (a fictionalized version of the famous 1963 British Mail Train robbery), Steve McQueen's BULLIT (1968) and the humorous Robert Redford jewel caper THE HOT ROCK (1972).
* The film's jazz-funk fusion score was composed by Grammy winner Dave Grusin. His other "urban groove"-inspired works of the day included the oft imitated THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, THE YAKUZA and THE NICKEL RIDE. But he's also known for more lyrical scores like ON GOLDEN POND, THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR (his only Oscar win), MY BODYGUARD, LUCAS, THE GOONIES, HAVANA, A DRY WHITE SEASON and the New Orleans jazz-piano based THE FIRM.
* ATF agent Dave Foley is portrayed by late character actor Richard Jordan. Popular in films such as LOGAN'S RUN (1976), RAISE THE TITANIC (1980), DUNE (1984), THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990) and GETTYSBURG (1993), Jordan would work with Mitchum again in THE YAKUZA (1974). During the 1986 - 87 season of the popular CBS TV series THE EQUALIZER, both Mitchum and Jordan would fill in as former intelligence agency friends of star Edward Woodward while Woodward recovered from a heart attack.
* The influence of Higgins and EDDIE COYLE continue today. Ben Affleck's critically acclaimed 2010 crime thriller THE TOWN (as well as the Chuck Hogan novel PRINCE OF THIEVES on which it's based) is heavily influenced by COYLE. Also, Brad Pitt and his ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES director Andrew Dominik are currently re-teaming on an adaptation of Higgins' novel COOGAN'S TRADE, about a mob enforcer hired to investigate a high stakes poker heist.
Having premiered to stellar ratings and reviews Kate Winslet's
portrayal of the depression-era heroine is already garnering strong
Emmy talk. As the five-part mini-series runs throughout April join us
on a revisit to the original 1941 novel by James M. Cain (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY), the Oscar winning 1945 film starring Joan Crawford (co-written by William Faulkner); and as we essay director Todd Haynes' new interpretation - a period piece designed to comment on contemporary issues.
HBO's MILDRED PIERCE (2011)
HBO's HIS WAY: A PORTRAIT OF HOLLYWOOD LEGEND JERRY WEINTRAUB (2011)
For nearly half a century producer Jerry Weintraub has been the
mover, shaker and all around force of nature in establishing what's
come to be known as modern Hollywood. Starting in television (producing
variety specials for Frank Sinatra, John Denver and The Carpenters) he's gone on to produce film favorites like THE KARATE KID, it's sequels and remake, the OCEANS movies, OH GOD!, DINER, NANCY DREW and countless others. Somewhere in there he finds time to occasionally act too (remember mobster Sonny Capp in THE FIRM?). And now in his 70s he shows no signs of slowing down with remakes of TARZAN, OH GOD! and the sci fi classic WESTWORLD in production. Join him and his "Rat Pack" of creative cohorts including Clooney, Pitt, Willis, Caan, Barkin, Damon, Cheadle, Garcia and many others as they salute the last of the old school moguls.