It’s no big secret that I think ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ is one of the great crime novels and movies. Credible, dialogue driven, yet often unrecognised, beyond Mitchum’s low-key, grouchy performance – one of his best, he’s surrounded by some of the best character actors out there. It’s a shame that so many passed before their time and never got the dues deserved. Richard Foley for one, died too soon. I know every motherfucker with a WordPress account is eulogizing the style of some staggeringly obvious performers, but it’s heartening that Erik Brunetti’s mighty FUCT – specifically its SSDD imprint, referenced ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ – OGs riff off the offbeat while everyone else fellates McQueen. Bronx-born Stephen Keats is the true star of ‘…Eddie Coyle’ as gunrunner Jackie Brown.
Consider that bombastic statement – that’s in a film with a career best from one of the greatest that ever did it, but I stand by that statement. At turns ultra relaxed and ultra fidgety, Jackie’s always on his Ps and Qs, and while the big collars haven’t aged well during his talk of broken knuckles with Eddie at the film’s opening, the hair, polo neck, multi pocketed leather jacket, car, firearm knowledge (automatic weapons are a more problematic matter) and sunglasses make him a lowlife icon. Absolute cool. It’s only some old-fashioned snitching that brings this workmanlike delivery man down.
Tragically, despite some appearances in classic films like ‘Death Wish’ and ‘Black Sunday’ b-movie status inexplicably remained – he got no shortage of work, but should’ve become more well-known – and he took his own life in 1994. He undertook a Vietnam tour-of-duty before becoming an actor and interviews indicated he saw some harrowing things that took a toll. RIP Stephen Keats. One of the greats.
A depressing story needs some happy news – other than the fact you need the Criterion ‘…Eddie Coyle’ disc in your life, Janus films (Criterion’s brethren) recently put out a cinema print of the madcap 1977 Japanese horror, ‘Hausu’ aka. ‘House’ – well-regarded but confined to trades by lovers of odd films, you need it in your life. There’s more lurid brilliance in 5 minutes of ‘Hausu’ than you’ll get in any film released this year. That means a DVD release is a-coming this summer. There’s even a t-shirt.
The director actually made this comically manly Japan-only Charles Bronson deodorant commercial too.
On a newer film note, while ‘A Serbian Film’ is probably going to ruin our lives with depictions of something truly hideous if it ever gets released without Daily Mail readers engaging in self-immolation outside art cinemas, on a ’70’s cinema topic, the writer, who I assumed might be a lunatic, masturbating with razors and tediously out to shock, seems eerily normal, with some fine reference points mentioned in this interview. It’s the calm ones you have to watch out for.