Saturday, 1 April 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1973: Richard Jordan in The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Richard Jordan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying ATF agent Dave Foley in The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

Although the Godfather did reveal the brutality of mob life it presented there to be certain codes, and a general class to the criminal life. The Friends of Eddie Coyle feels like strict rejection of that in its dog eat dog depiction of criminals. The film doesn't do this though by depleting them of their humanity, not at all, in fact the way it humanizes all the criminals makes the world they live in all the more unsettling. Richard Jordan is the only principal actor not playing a criminal in the film. His character Dave Foley is the one named law officer we see and it is interesting the way he further amplifies the harsh tone of the story. The reason being the main point of Foley within the story is when he is meeting a couple of the criminals. Foley is not corrupt though, he's meeting with them because they are both his informers unbeknownst to each other.

It's a little interesting that Richard Jordan is an actor who for quite awhile I only knew from a single performance in Gettysburg, which I consider to be one of the all time great supporting turns. I could say he was a great actor from that performance but that was the only performance I knew him from. I still have not seen a great deal of Jordan's work but now seeing another one of his turns it is confirmed to me at least, that he is indeed a great actor. His work in Gettysburg feels in a way even greater seeing that he's unrecognizable between the two performances, and not just because the age difference and the period facial hair in that later film. Jordan might as well be a different person entirely in his realization of Dave Foley. Jordan's approach to Foley is rather fascinating in that he's almost the hero cop character you might see in a different film, the problem though here is that Foley's not the hero of this story, not that there is one.

Jordan though plays the part realistically though with just the right touches of a personal style not unlike say a Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Jordan carries a certain "cool" in his work that one would normally associate with the cop hero that we like, but again Jordan does something brilliant with this. Jordan actually makes this rather  in a way as he only takes this approach when he is talking to either of his informants whether it is the past his prime Eddie (Robert Mitchum) or the completely amoral Dillon (Peter Boyle). Jordan in these scenes plays it Foley as a guy who just doesn't sweat the small stuff or in this case the big stuff. Jordan makes Foley rather casual as he speaks to both men about essentially trading in their friends for favors. Jordan brings that "cool" about it that grants this vicious edge to the scenes though making the informing seems perhaps a little too easy in a way. Jordan smartly contrasts though against Foley in the field the field where he portrays not quite as as smooth of an operator. Oh he's good at his job but Jordan is careful to reveal a genuine in tension as Foley carefully takes down his friends. Jordan's remarkable because he gives these moments the needed severity as though he is indeed the hero, and lead of the film, though again of course he's not. Jordan's best scenes though are those with the informers particularly the ones he shares with Mitchum. Jordan's great by creating this combination of attitude Foley has towards Eddie. In that he brings enough of a casual ease as though he's his friend, yet Jordan underlines this all with a definite intensity particularly when he notes a lack of effort by Eddie to produce real information. Jordan's terrific in the way he so effectively makes Foley completely manipulative yet never appearing as such. When he tells Eddie that he needs more, after Eddie already has given info out, Jordan offers such a sympathetic face like he honestly cares about the man. He so warmly speaks to him, suggests he give more info, yet there is no true empathy in his eyes, as he coveys a indifference towards Eddie just below the surface reinforced by his cold disinterest whenever Eddie can produce something. What makes this performance so special is the way Jordan is law offer hero we'd usually empathize with, using methods you'd usually describe as slick, but since the film humanizes the crook, particularly the sad sack Eddie, it in turn shows how cruel such a figure can be through a shifted perspective.

13 comments:

Luke Higham said...

I honestly thought you'd give him a five.

I guess Cusack's winning the lineup.

Calvin Law said...

Damn, I was expecting a 5 from reading this review at the start but as it went on, I kind of realized that as great as Jordan is in the role, it is a somewhat simple albeit brilliant approach. Any way, great review!

As for other Jordan performances to check out, he's really good in another collaboration with Mitchum in The Yakuza, where ol' Harry Powell and Ken Takakura are interesting potentials for the year, and he's also great as Valjean.

Robert MacFarlane said...

This sounds like a 5 from the way you wrote it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Also, have you ever seen the TV version of Les Miserables with him as Valjean and Anthony Perkins as Javert?

RatedRStar said...

Louis: You will be seeing Richard Jordan again I think =D I have a performance in mind =D.

Anonymous said...

Damn, was expecting a 5.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Yes I have. Jordan's a great Valjean.

Calvin Law said...

What about Anthony Perkins as Javert?

Louis Morgan said...

Perkins is great as well.

Charles Heiston said...

Very shocked on a 4.5.

Michael McCarthy said...

What are your thoughts on Perkins? Because as good as I thought Jordan was, I thought Perkins absolutely stole the show. Definitely my favorite Javert in a non-musical version.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: How close was Jordan to a 5? Also, what do you think held him back from getting one?

Louis Morgan said...

Michael:

Thought Perkins's was excellent. His approach I felt was particularly true to his character, as he carefully never played him as a villain. Instead Perkins takes a very exact approach in portraying the character's moral rigidity through his own demeanor. Perkins stays very strictly with this throughout the film yet he does not portray this simply. In the strict manner Perkins reveals this underlying vulnerability that alludes to the man's insecurity that he cannot overcome, in his own view, his morally compromised birth. Perkins while fulfilling the role of antagonist in portraying the right intensity in Javert's strict code, though brings so much humanity. He's surprisingly moving throughout the film by realizing that conflict in Javert through so many small moments which test his world view, such as his reaction when he realizes that Fantine has died, that build towards his powerful final moment when it finally all breaks down. Also just something else I found notable was that both Perkins and Jordan actually age their characters through the performances throughout the story, something that is rather lacking in most adaptations.

Tahmeed:

Nothing exactly held him back, in that I have nothing negative to say about this performance, it just wasn't quite a five for me.