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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring Yates
  • Stills gallery

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Peter Yates
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan
1973 | 102 Minutes | Licensor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #475
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: April 28, 2015
Review Date: April 12, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie "Fingers" Coyle in an adaptation by Peter Yates of George V. Higgins's acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle. World-weary and living hand to mouth, Coyle works on the sidelines of the seedy Boston underworld just to make ends meet. But when he finds himself facing a second stretch of hard time, he's forced to weigh loyalty to his criminal colleagues against snitching to stay free. Directed with a sharp eye for its gritty locales and an open heart for its less-than-heroic characters, this is one of the true treasures of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking-a suspenseful crime drama in stark, unforgiving daylight.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Peter Yatesí The Friends of Eddie Coyle gets a welcome Blu-ray upgrade, presenting the film on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of about 1.85:1. The high-definition transfer appears to be the same one that was used as the basis for Criterionís original DVD edition. The transfer comes from both a 35mm interpositive and a 35mm colour reversal intermediate and is presented here in 1080p/24hz.

I had high expectations for this one based on Criterionís original DVD release, which sported a fairly impressive standard-definition transfer, and the same high-definition transfer that was the basis for that disc is the same one used here. Unfortunately it does look like it was created more with DVD in mind rather than a high-definition format, and whatever flaws there are that werenít visible on the DVD are a little more clear here. Film grain is visible but doesnít look entirely natural, especially in low-lit sequences, and detail, while adequate and better than the DVDís delivery, is still a bit soft. The print is, for the most part, in exceptional shape, and other than some fluctuations and pulsating in areas of the screen damage isnít a concern at all.

Though blacks can crush out details in low-lit sequences I still found blacks fairly rich and the night sequences are at least still easy to see (some issues could have to do more with lighting as features on this disc suggest the lighting in the film was a challenge). Colours look great, though, despite the gritty and danker look of the film. Reds, browns, yellows, and even blues look nicely saturated and vibrant, and though I did complain that the image may look a touch on the soft side, it still does look better than the DVDís presentation. The Blu-rayís transfer also lacks any digital anomalies that are par with a standard-definition transfer (revisiting the DVD slight edge-enhancement is noticeable but thatís now gone here).

Overall I do think the Blu-ray looks better than the DVD, certainly delivering a cleaner image in comparison, but other weaknesses become more apparent now we get to see the full high-def master.

7/10

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AUDIO

The lossless PCM mono track is clean overall, with no distortion or damage, but it is pretty flat and a lot of the dialogue can sound a bit muffled. Music sounds adequate, though, and fidelity sounds fine in this area.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though the DVD didnít feature a lot of material Criterion has thankfully carried it all over, starting with an audio commentary by director Peter Yates, recorded exclusively for this release in early 2009. The commentary is probably about what I expected all things considered. Yates is around 80 and the film is 36 years old so I wasnít sure how much he might recall about the film, but he does do quite well. There is unfortunately a lot of dead space throughout the track, only picking up more as the film gets closer to the end, but he throws in some great information. He recalls only a few details about the actual production, such as locations (he loves talking about the banks that appear in the film), the process of the script, and has some funny anecdotes. He concentrates a great deal on working with the actors, all of them, but does pay a special amount of attention to Robert Mitchum, who he obviously found wonderful to work with, though he had to do some things to get him to star in the film (he had to promise him the script would not change and also had to go out drinking with Mitchum before he signed on.) He talks about Higginsí novel and then whole-heartedly recommends it. He also talks a bit about the Boston underworld, comparing it to the London underworld. It is a decent track, if stop and go. I donít know if I consider it one that everyone has to listen to, but it has some interesting comments in it.

The only other supplement on the disc is a stills gallery, which features stills from the set, including one of author George V. Higgins. There are also stills from a number of deleted scenes, including a shoot-out and the abandoned use of a dummy for a murder scene. Some of these look especially interesting as they appear to really expand on the story of some of the more minor characters in the film, almost suggesting a larger epic in scope. The latter section of the gallery then features photos of Mitchum with his fans (mostly young women). Criterion has a tendency to not port over their galleries to Blu-rays but thankfully thatís not the case here as this gallery proved to be a worthwhile addition.

Whatever is lacking in the disc supplements is more than made up for in the included booklet (yes, thankfully Criterion has at least included an actual booklet for this edition). It offers a great amount of material starting with an excellent essay on the film by Kent Jones, and then a long article on Mitchum, called ďThe Last Celluloid DesperadoĒ, that appeared in Rolling Stone, and reported from the set of The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The article takes up a good chunk of the booklet, features some general banter from various cast and crew members, gets Mitchumís daughter, Trina, to talk about her dad, and gets the man himself, who doesnít hold back. Itís a great article on the man and also gives an idea of how it was to film on the set.

Though itís still a slim set of features, the booklet itself, particularly the Rolling Stone article, adds a lot to this edition.

6/10

CLOSING

It offers an enhancement over the DVD, but sadly not a substantial one. Though it improves over the DVD in many areas, some of the transferís flaws seem to come through a little more clearly, and the image is ultimately not as sharp or filmic because of it.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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