Finally, Peter Yates's adaptation of George V. Higgins's masterful crime novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle is coming out on DVD. This thing has been in some sort of loony-bird home video purgatory ever since there was such a thing as home video, but I've come to learn that you can count on Criterion to untie all those knots for us, and they've come through yet again.
It's been more than a few years since I read Higgins's novel, but I still remember parts of it vividly, and how the spare prose and uncommonly on-target dialogue made me think that Higgins had to be describing what the world of low-level, half-assed garbage criminals was really like (and maybe he was, and maybe he wasn't, but Higgins was an attorney general and mob prosecutor before becoming a writer). And the film is just as good. Apparently, as someone who has seen Yates's movie, I'm a member of a pretty elite club. I caught it (with commercials and apparently edited for content, although I don't think there's much content to be edited out) a long time ago on Bravo, back before that channel chose to switch focus from airing old movies and instead run shows about what life is like up there on those fashion runways you're always seeing on TV. Yates got everything right, and the casting of Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle in the leads is so perfect as to be inevitable.
This will be released on May 19. Seek it out. And read the book while you're waiting for the DVD. I mean, what the hell, right?