Six years and three months ago, I begged Paramount Home Video to please think about issuing a DVD of Peter YatesThe Friends of Eddie Coyle. Beloved by serious crime fans, one of greatest hard-boiled noirs of the ’70s, a classic of its kind and still absent from the shelves and the Netflix rent list in early ’08.

There is something more than negligent about this. The term I have in mind is “vaguely felonious.” It’s really and truly wrong to bury a film this good, at least in the eyes of the Movie Gods. The above-mentioned piece ran in October ’01 on my column, and I’ve written at least three or four follow-ups since, and Paramount Home Video persists in not giving a damn. No word, no nothing, Eddie who?, leave us alone.
Hello, Brad Grey! I know you read HE from time to time, and so I’m asking that you please, please take up the cause and urge PHE president Meagan Burrows to do the right thing here. You need to stand up for the great classic tasties every now and then, regardless of projected monetary streams. Nobody ‘s going to get rich off of DVD rentals of Eddie Coyle, but you’re required as man of conscience and a friend of movie art to make this puppy available to the fans. The saints will smile if you push this along, and maybe the karma will kick back down the road.
Other ’70s MIAs: John Flynn‘s The Outfit (1974), William Friedkin‘s The Brinks Job (1978), and Don Siegel‘s The Black Windmill (1974).
Based on the George V. Higgins novel, Peter Yates‘ 1973 film is about Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum), an aging, bone-weary weapons dealer who’s looking at a long prison stretch unless he rats out his underworld friends, but who’s still going through the routine of selling guns to make ends meet. One of the guys he’s selling to (Alex Rocco) is the head of a gang that’s pulling off a series of bank robberies on the North Shore.
In Act Three, the underworld gets wise to Eddie’s game, so they hire one of his best friends, Dillon (Peter Boyle), to do the job. I’ll never forget this “hit” scene as long as I live. Mitchum drunk, dozing off in the back seat of a car on the way back from a hockey game….thunk.
Coyle also stars Richard Jordan (who has three or four great scenes himself), Steven Keats (as a low-level gun dealer who gets pinched by the fuzz), and Joe Santos. Higgins’ novel was originally adapted on spec by Paul Monash, who also produced. Dave Grusin wrote the original music. Yates, who had himself a great run in the ’70s and early ’80s, directed with his usual punch and pizzazz.
I can’t believe I’m actually considering hauling my ass up to San Francisco for a showing of Eddie Coyle at the Castro on March 18th. But I am.