Saturday, 25 March 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1973: Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Robert Mitchum did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular Eddie "Fingers" Coyle in The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a terrific film, finding the tone Killing Them Softly failed to find in adapting this film's source material's followup, about an intersecting group of criminals centering around an old small time crook

Robert Mitchum plays the lead role of Eddie Coyle, though this is technically a smaller leading role, he's lead but the film spends ample time with the other people within the crime world Eddie is associated with. Mitchum though is the center point for a reason in his depiction of Eddie Coyle, which is a performance that must be stated that it is brilliant from the get go then dissect why. Again Robert Mitchum is not constantly front and center in the film, and what he does is so much within his performance it is something truly remarkable. Now in Mitchum first scene we have him meet one of his first associates and it's incredibly what Mitchum does here. Mitchum very much embraces his age in the role, and never tries to hide it. In fact he quite embraces, amplifying it even by wearing these hard years within himself. He doesn't create a falsehood in this regard, as he does not attempt to try to show this old timer whose really tougher than all these young ins, which I'm sure Mitchum could have pulled off. Mitchum though instead far more effectively reveals who Eddie is, which is an old manstill in the criminal life.

Mitchum just is this old Boston crook, with a great Boston accent by the way, and takes it so much further from there. In that initial scene, although his face says the truth, now Mitchum shows Eddie's attempt to be more than he is but it is only an attempt. As he describes where his little moniker comes from there is this strained attempt at being some man he may have been in the past, or might not have been in reality. There's a real sadness hidden within Mitchum's work as he attempts to express this confidence of real tough within a man who has lived a hard life yet that is still meaningless within the world he lives in. Mitchum never focuses upon a single emotion and that is part of the incredible nuance in his performance though. As even in this exchange with one of his associates, even as he's trying to act tough in a way, Mitchum though even conveys just the right bit of history with still the right kind of comfort speaking to someone who he's known for awhile, he realizes this aspect so well throughout the film with every one of Eddie's "friends".

Mitchum creating the actual sense of any camaraderie to the other criminals he associates with is pivotal since it makes the story all the crueler for Eddie. The reason for that being that Eddie is an informant, aiding ATF agent Dave Foley (Richard Jordan) in taking down his various friends in an attempt to try to avoid his prison sentence of at least two years. Mitchum is amazing in the role though in every one of his scenes with Jordan because of how much he reveals about in Eddie in these scenes. As when it seems like Foley might be able to help him Mitchum projects a pride in Eddie, putting up again a certain front to try to be more than he is. Mitchum though again creates a duality in this as there is a weakness in this pride, the effort behind that can be felt which is purposeful in Mitchum's work. As Mitchum shows Eddie basically trying to convince himself he's doing the right thing by giving these bits of information out, Mitchum manages to create empathy within Eddie despite his actions seeming largely selfish in nature.

We are given a glimpse of Eddie at home with his wife and kids. Mitchum actually very good in these scenes by just being so straight forward in presenting Eddie as just a nice father and husband no more, no less. Mitchum though importantly does show exactly that Eddie does have something he cares about. Furthermore Mitchum, when Foley demands more information or fails to really provide any real benefit for the information that Eddie provides him. Mitchum again is excellent in never simplifying the emotional reaction which further helps to explain the man. Mitchum grants the expected frustrations towards Foley as he gets nothing in return but he also does reveal a real pain in Eddie as he speaks about giving up his friends who trust him. There's an outstanding moment late in the film where Eddie approaches Foley with an additional bit of information that will lead to the arrest of more of his friends. In the approach Mitchum presents the struggle and sense of self-loathing in his hesitant delivery. This makes it all the more torturous when Foley coldly reveals that the information is useless since the men have already been arrested. 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle, in great detail, shows the methods of the criminals as they undergo long lengths to commit their crimes in almost a French Connection style and also reveals that there is no honor among anyone in the organization. In turn Eddie's story is not one about redemption, or overcoming the odds to get out. It's about the last days of crook who never really made it anywhere, and no one truly cares about all that much. This sad truth is within the entirety of Mitchum's performance though again with only the weak attempts to create some sort of rationalization that he's more than he is, and will have an actual future. At the end of the film though Eddie run out of options, since he doesn't really have anyone else to turn in, and Mitchum reveals the palatable despair in Eddie as he no longer can create any delusions. What I love again though is the film never stops exactly to tells us about Eddie's state it so effortlessly within Mitchum's work. There is one particularly powerful moment near the end of the film where Eddie ponders about the promise in the future of a young Hockey player. Eddie does not speak about himself yet Mitchum is heartbreaking by in his face expressing that self-reflection of a man who knows he's essentially wasted his life.

60 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Can't wait for Woodward's review. :)

Calvin Law said...

Here's hoping you'll save Jordan.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I think he will. Anyway, he saved Hayden, so we may be getting a supporting lineup.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: And I think Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man would be a rather interesting one to review as well.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I am indeed saving Jordan.

Boyle - 4(He's great at being so despicable and I wish they had made Cogan's Trade(Killing The Softly) earlier so he could have reprised the role even for a cameo. Boyle's performance though is interesting in the way he slowly reveals himself through the film. In that he seems passive at first then slowly becomes more incisive as the film goes on until it is revealed that really he's the guy best made for the world. Boyle's work matches this change until the last scenes where he's terrific in so coldly explaining how to go about murdering someone like he's a shop teacher or something.)

Keats - 3.5(He's good in that he makes a sort of charm just naturally within the performance making it so you feel a little sorry that he's being set up the whole time. Keats however also brings the right edge to the role needed for a guy in the life.)

Rocco - 3.5(Welcome presence in most crime films really. Again does well in his screen time in that he's the rough costumer he should be in the heist scenes, yet outside of them Rocco's good at just presenting him as more or less a normal guy at the same time.)

Anonymous said...

Louis what would be your cast/director for 1980's Killing Them Softly?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Cogan's Trade (the better title, directed by Peter Yates):

Cogan: James Caan
Frankie: James Woods
Russell: Jack Thompson
Driver: Art Carney
Mickey: Robert Duvall
Markie: Dennis Weaver
Dillon: Peter Boyle

Charles Heiston said...

Another fantastic performance from 1973, i'm glad there will be a supporting line-up.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you also watch High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood.

Calvin Law said...

My cast for a 2010s The Friends of Eddie Coyle:

Directed by Martin McDonagh
Eddie Coyle: Tom Waits
Dillon: David Harbour
Foley: Ben Foster
Scalise: Alessandro Nivola
Brown: Scoot McNairy

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I think you're right :)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your cast/director for a 2010s Godfather. Aside from having Oscar Isaac as Michael Corleone, I'm pretty stumped.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Dern was great, but what do you think of the idea of Donald Sutherland playing his role in The Hateful Eight?

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Vito Corleone: Robert De Niro
Sonny Corleone: Dominic Cooper
Tom Hagan: Damian Lewis
Fredo Coreleone: Matthias Schoenaerts (think the Drop)
Kay: Jessica Chastain
Connie: Oona Chaplin
Carlo: Michael Pitt
Clemenza: Joe Pesci
Tessio: John Turturro
The Turk: Bobby Cannavale
McCluskey: Ted Levine
Moe Greene: Alessandro Nivola

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I'm sure he could have been great. I'm a little surprised actually that Tarantino has never cast Sutherland.

Calvin Law said...

If QT ever does a Jackie Brown-esque film again he'd be perfect for the Robert Foster type of time.

Calvin Law said...

Also, Schoenaerts as Fredo is inspired. I was thinking he'd make a better Sonny, but actually that The Drop comparison is just great.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make a great Michael. He's got a discerning laser stare that only Rian Johnson has put to good use. (And Nolan with Inception)

Varun Neermul said...

Pruitt Taylor Vince gives a great performance in 'The Devil's Candy'. I will try get him reviewed.

Varun Neermul said...

https://yesmovies.to/movie/the-devils-candy-19938/604432-8/watching.html

Luke Higham said...

Varun: It's gonna be 2016 by Louis' rules though, since it was released in Russia last December.

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed: Here are my original choices, though I do prefer Louis' http://actorvsactor.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/retroactive-castings-godfather-in-2010s.html?m=1

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Calvin and Louis: Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Walton Goggins and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as actors? I think they're rather underrated.

Anonymous said...

Glad you liked him. Wasn't expecting a 5 however. Where would you rank this performance in his top 10? Second or third?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It'll be #3.

I wish Morgan was given more quality film roles though I'm enjoying what he's doing on The Walking Dead.

Charles Heiston said...

Morgan was fantastic as The Comedian, he's horribly underused.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Walton Goggins is also a great actor, his work on The Hateful Eight is high up on my top 10 supporting performances of the decade. I also liked him a lot on the few episodes I've seen of Justified.
Also, ashamed to say it, but I haven't seen Watchmen yet.

Charles Heiston said...

Tahmeed: You're not missing anything great besides the performances.

Anonymous said...

Tahmeed: Watchmen is kind of terrible, despite being based on a great graphic novel.
Charles: There's only like two great performances in the film, the other ones range from adequate to terrible.

Charles Heiston said...

Anonymous: Obviously. I was only referring to Morgan and Haley.

Calvin Law said...

Goggins is one of those actors who just adds to the film by being there. I remember watching Django and kept hoping that QT would give him a meaty role soon, and bam, Chris Mannix!

Calvin Law said...

Louis and everyone else: would it be inappropriate of me to use any request I obtain in the future for a television movie performance (i.e. as a bonus review?) It wouldn't be ranked obviously, but just wondering everyone's views and Louis' own rules on this front.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I wish you were allowed to do that, since I would've requested Ben Whishaw in The Hollow Crown by now.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: That's a great performance. I really would love Louis to review any of Donald Sutherland, Stephen Rea, Max Von Sydow or Jeffrey DeMunn in Citizen X, and it's a shame it's not likely since it was never released in cinemas. But I respect whatever Louis' boundaries/convetions are :)

RatedRStar said...

I am sure it would be ok, up to Louis really. I wonder what will happen after the Bonus rounds are finished?

Charles Heiston said...

I would love television film performances to be reviewed, i feel like that is something that should and will be added in the future.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: At this rate, won't be for another 3 years at least, but I'll be glad to see the blog continue afterwards.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: top 10 Donald Sutherland acting moments.

RatedRStar said...

I dont really know if ill b here after the bonus rounds finish if im honest lol.

Charles Heiston said...

RatedRStar: Same here, man.

Luke Higham said...

I'm sure you guys will be around during Awards season.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Any 2017 updates.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Top 5 Paul Scofield and Oliver Reed moments.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I'm three episodes into Big Little Lies and I have to say it's actually pretty great. The cast is uniformly strong, but Kidman in particular is pretty incredible. She would be very worthy of an eventual Emmy.

Louis Morgan said...

No television performances accepted for requests. I apologize but I just don't have the time.

Anonymous:

For Morgan's I think I've only seen his performance in Watchmen where he was stellar, despite the film's problems.

Goggins was stellar in his major turn in The Hateful Eight and find him a welcome presence in just about everything he's in. He just naturally adds a bit of character to even the most minor roles, and can bring a lot more if given the chance.

Anonymous:

Third.

Calvin:

Sutherland:

1. Greatest Exposition scene ever - JFK
2. "Do you really love me" - Ordinary People
3. Police Inspector - Don't Look Now
4. Ending - Ordinary People
5. Chasing the Red Coat - Don't Look Now
6. Homer's Breakdown - Day of the Locust
7. Golf Course - Ordinary People
8. A Loss - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
9. Opening - Don't Look Now
10. Oddball takes a break - Kelly's Heroes

Luke:

Scofield:

1. Breaking his silence - A Man For All Seasons
2. Arguing with the King - A Man For All Seasons
3. Lear's Breakdown - King Lear
4. Final goodbye to his family - A Man For All Seasons
5. His last words to Richard Rich - A Man For All Seasons

Reed:

1. Court Defense - The Devils
2. His freedom - Gladiator
3. Marriage - The Devils
4. What is to be a Gladiator - Gladiator
5. After the murder - Oliver!

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm completely fine with your stance on the matter, though I do hope you'll watch the first 4 Hollow Crown films from 2012, whenever you cover it again. I just really want Ben Whishaw to get that first five.

Michael Patison said...

Absolutely love the alternate Godfather casting, particularly Dominic Cooper (and Schoenaerts as per usual). Overall I prefer it to Calvin's though I prefer Reilly as Kay, and I'm torn about Chaplin or Milioti as Connie.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Legacy episodes of Superman TAS.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could Donald Sutherland move up your overall ranking for 1980 for Ordinary People?

Calvin Law said...

No worries Louis. Also glad to see that Long Nguyen is so high on your Best Supporting list. That final scene of his is just amazing.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Do you think you could switch to Van Heflin to your win for 1941 supporting eventually?

Luke Higham said...

Charles: I think he'll stick with Huston for that year.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is the review coming later tonight.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Might seem like an insanely odd question to ask, but is your name pronounced with a silent "s"? I'm trying to recommend your blog to some of my friends.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Which performances from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1978) would you consider to be really good at least.

Luke Higham said...

*(1979)

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I assume he'd say Alec Guinness. Since he said some of Guinness' best acting moments were from Tinker Tailor(1979)

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Of course, though I want to know his brief opinions on Richardson, Bannen, Jayston, Stewart etc.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

A strong finale to the series, and I'm glad it actually had a finale unlike Batman. Again though he manages to make some very real stakes in such short order and builds to such dramatic climax. The final fight does manage to be a surprisingly emotional one, utilizing what came before so well, but it even ends on interestingly not entirely triumphant moment.

Tahmeed:

To be honest that top five is sort of a toss up.

Looooiiisssssssss

Luke:

Guinness, Bannen(with a very different take than Strong), and Ian Richardson.