Director: Peter Yates
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco
More Info: IMDB
Tagline: It's a grubby, violent, dangerous world. But it's the only
world they know. And they're the only friends Eddie has.
Plot: Eddie's friends are numerous, but the term friends is suspect. As a small time hood Eddie is about to go back to jail. In order to escape this fate he deals information on stolen guns to the feds. Simultaneously he is supplying arms to his bank robbing/kidnapping hoodlum chums. But who else is dealing with the feds? Who gets the blame for snitching on the bank robbers?
My Rating: 8/10
Would I watch it again? You betcha
Here's a little gem of a flick I bet you've never even heard of. If you love gritty crime films from the 70s like I do then you owe it to yourself to seek this one out. I eventually got mine in a trade from some cat in the Netherlands. It's a fullscreen TV dub, which sucks, but I FINALLY got to see it. WOW!
It's the kind of picture that stays with you for a few days after you watch it. It's only been a few weeks since I saw it (I'm THAT far behind with these reviews) and I'm ready to see it again. It's a subtle picture, kinda sneakin' up on you. Even after it's over you feel it still creeping around, expecting something else to happen. I can't shake it.
Mitchum is dead-on perfect in his role as a worn out, aging criminal trying to make ends meet. Boyle's great as the bartender who passes on information to the Feds. This guy's cold, man. The story unfolds slowly not telling us everything we need to know but giving it to us peace meal. You're not quite sure where it's going and you don't mind either because it's quite gripping, realistic and gritty. This is not like any crime/gangster story you've ever seen. This one's more of a snapshot in time than anything like THE GODFATHER films or pictures like THE FRENCH CONNECTION or THE SEVEN-UPS. There are no large action set pieces but there's plenty of real drama and intrigue. I found it most compelling.
Something else that is surprising is that director Peter Yates had, just a few years earlier, directed the high octane crime action film BULLITT (1968) with Steve McQueen. He's at the polar opposite within the same genre. He definitely didn't churn out "more of the same" as so many do.
There's a GREAT little scene in the first ten minutes where Coyle is in a diner putting together a gun deal when he tells the story about honor and integrity. It runs for a full two minutes and shows you just how good of an actor Mitchum was. You REALLY feel for this guy and that one monologue puts you in his pocket for the rest of the film.
The ending is...well, it's...uh...not much of what you would expect. Without spoiling it, it does continue on a bit after a HUGE surprise you don't see coming. That's not to say I don't like the ending; I do...a lot. I suppose I can equate it to the down time, the breather you need after a tragic event to soak everything in while you're still in disbelief. I personally felt betrayed, left alone. Like I said before, it stayed with me for several days/weeks afterwards.
It really is a crime that this film, with one of Mitchum's finest performances, is not on a proper DVD. If this sounds interesting in any way I encourage you to do what it takes to find this film. I've just bought the novel it was based on from Ebay and I can't wait to dig into it and then watch the film over again. Find it.