The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Directed by Peter Yates, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) is a subdued crime drama. Set in and around the Boston area, the interior locations look well trodden; the bling factor doesn't sashay much beyond a nice leather jacket and a muscle car. Based on the novel by George V. Higgins, the movie abounds with earthbound personalities, workaday criminals who don't toot their prowess or commandeer social spots, but simply want to maneuver through the day without getting nabbed. In the title role is Robert Mitchum, who plays a middle-aged family man who makes his living doing itty-bitty jobs for dodgy acquaintances. Faced with an impending prison sentence in New Hampshire, Coyle haplessly decides to turn informant because he doesn't want his kids to grow up without him. From the editing to the dialogue to the climax -- nothing about this movie hankers to razzle-dazzle, which is a good thing considering the genre's bias towards sensationalism. If anything, The Friends of Eddie Coyle strives to pinpoint the anxiety that underlies the criminal life that is epitomized by the saucer-deep level of trust among confreres. In that respect, the movie's take-home wisdom is dispensed by a gun smuggler -- trivia buffs take note -- named Jackie Brown (Steven Keats) who schools a new connection by stating, "This life's hard, man. But it's harder if you're stupid."

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.