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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring Yates
  • Stills gallery

The Friends of Eddie Coyle


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Peter Yates
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan
1974 | 102 Minutes | Licensor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #475
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 19, 2009
Review Date: May 5, 2009

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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 Peter Yates's adaptation 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.

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PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Peter Yatesí The Friends of Eddie Coyle in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions. Iíll just note, so the viewer doesnít question it when they first throw the disc in, that the opening credits are presented in a ratio of about 1.66:1. The screen then fills out after the opening credits end.

The image looks spectacular on this disc, and a lot of love has gone into it. Sharpness is incredibly strong, the image presenting some great detail and definition, which in turn presents some noticeable film grain (which gets a little heavier in a few sequences.) Colours are fantastic, bright, bold, and vibrant, perfectly saturated, with some strong blacks and natural skin tones. The print itself is also in fantastic shape, with very little in the way of damage. A lot of work has gone into this and it makes me glad that Criterion did get their hands on this film because, judging by some of Paramountís catalogue titles (and I admit Iím thinking primarily of their DVD for The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,) Paramount wouldnít have put as much care into the restoration.

Itís a very pleasing, sharp picture, almost flawless, actually looking better than the DVD edition for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For the transfer alone this release is worth buying.

9/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The DVD also includes a good English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. The track is clean presenting nothing in the way of background noise or damage, and doesnít come off harsh or edgy. Voices sound natural, the 70ís score beats nicely and presents some excellent range, volume, and a bit of bass. An above average mono track.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The supplements are slim, though I guess that does keep the price down, which is good for those that have been waiting for this one to arrive on DVD.

The only substantial disc supplement is the audio commentary by director Peter Yates, recorded exclusively for this release earlier this year. 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 and 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 one has to listen to, but it has some interesting comments in it.

The only other disc supplement is a small stills gallery with some notes from Peter Yates. Thereís a few behind-the-scenes photos, one featuring the novelís author, George V. Higgins. Thereís also stills from some deleted scenes which include a shoot-out and the abandoned use of a dummy for a murder scene. Thereís also a big collection of photos of Mitchum with his fans (mostly young women.) Itís a nice small collection. Itís a shame the deleted scenes probably no longer exist, but at least you get an idea of them here.

While the supplements may disappoint (especially since Criterion didnít bother digging up any video material on Mitchum) the booklet should satisfy somewhat. At 42-pages (with very few photos) you get a great amount of information 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, reported from the set of The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The article takes up a good chunk of the booklet, has 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.

Slim but theyíre a decent set of extras, the booklet being the crowning touch.

6/10

CLOSING

Not much in the way of supplements but the release is still well worth it at the lower price. The transfer is stellar, another great one, plus the booklet makes for a great read. Itís also nice to finally get the film on DVD. An easy recommendation.


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