Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Marxist Movies Reviews 09: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

Marxist Movie Reviews attempts to look at modern and classic films from the perspective of what they say about society and social conflict.

The Plot: A small-time veteran criminal (Robert Mitchum) navigates his way through the world of organized crime in Boston, looking for a way to avoid an upcoming prison sentence and make enough money to get out of his situation

The Best Part(s): Fantastic performances by Mitchum as the title character and Peter Boyle as one of Coyle’s associates

As a gritty, unsentimental portrait of life as a foot soldier in organized crime, this movie has a kind of dramatic realism that would be repeated by films such as Goodfellas and Donnie Brasco. This film, directed by Peter Boyle, was released as a counterpoint to The Godfather, a film that presented mob life as the kind of Shakespearean epic the public perhaps prefers to see goes on with the Mafia and Mafia-like organizations. The social reality of being part of such an organization (the violence, the constant hustling, the imminent threat of prison or death) is a subject that lends itself to much more rewarding viewing, in the right film maker’s hands.

A message from this film might be that for all the social rituals and rules groups of people make for themselves, ultimately, when push comes to shove, it’s every man for himself. It’s a sentiment one would not find in typical mainstream political rhetoric but has found a home in the collected thoughts of Ayn Rand and various Libertarians who try to dress up such stark thinking as somehow virtuous. Are we, at the end of the day, just another species of wild animal fighting each other for survival? Or do we just choose to act that way and accept the consequences because it’s easier than the alternative?

My Rating: 8//10 (“Really Liked It”)

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