A classic 1970s film finally gets its due

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) may just be the great lost Robert Mitchum movie — and the last great seventies flick to make it to DVD. It’s finally available, from the Criterion Collection, on May 19.

Based on a novel by George V. Higgins and directed by Peter Yates (who is best known for the 1968 Steve McQueen vehicle Bullitt), the film traces a small-time hood’s fall from grace. Mitchum’s character (the eponymous Eddie Coyle) is broke, weary, and facing a prison sentence. Forced to choose between his friends and his freedom, Coyle turns informer. But he does it too late, and the mob sends Coyle’s best friend (an excellent Peter Boyle) to rub him out. Yates’s eye for location — Boston at its grimiest — gives The Friends of Eddie Coyle a texture we don’t really see anymore. But Mitchum’s performance gives the film its heart; it’s a sly and subtle wonder.

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A classic 1970s film finally gets its due