With Friends Like That. . .
Last night I watched The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) on the new DVD from the Criterion Collection. I watched it once straight through and then again with the commentary track from director Peter Yates. Yates explains that the whole film was shot on location in and around Boston with no studio scenes whatsoever. It is one of his three favorite films of all the pictures he's made (and Bullitt is not one of the other two). Yates says it was Robert Mitchum's favorite role. He says that everything said on the screen was already in George V. Higgins' wonderful novel. What Yates doesn't say is that Higgins once worked for the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts, worked organized crime cases, and was a journalist for the Boston Globe and Boston Herald-American. This would be about the time that Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang were busy in Boston. And Bulger was hijacking trucks and whacking guys on Friday nights and serving as an informant to FBI Special Agent John Connolly on Mondays, a lot like Peter Boyle's character, Dillon, does in The Friends of Eddie Coyle. You might remember that Whitey Bulger (who is still a fugitive, incidentally) was the model for Jack Nicholson's character, Frank Costello, in Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed.
So, anyway, author George V. Higgins is dead now, but he knew whereof the phuck he spake. And he wrote great dialogue. And The Friends of Eddie Coyle is filled with it.
"This life is hard, but it's harder if you're stupid."