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January 10, 2011


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Tom Russell

Yates was one of my favorite directors, and he had a number of great films to his name. COYLE and BULLITT, yes, but also MURPHY'S WAR, MOTHER JUGS AND SPEED, and BREAKING AWAY. I remember being surprised when I found out that those films were all helmed by the same director, and further surprised when I discovered he was not an American, because they do, as you say, display that uncanny knack. (Well, except for MURPHY'S WAR, as it's not set in the U.S.)

Casey Tourangeau

The Criterion release of "Eddie Coyle" is one of the best gifts I've ever been given. Whenever people ask me why it's so great, I just make them watch it — and they're always glad I did.

As you point out, it's Yates's attention to time and place that always grabs me. I could watch endless hours of those characters just inhabiting those spaces.

(On a related note to those characters, I was watching the film with a friend once who remarked, "Remember when the main requirement for being hired as an actor was being able to fucking act?")

Lord Henry

@ Casey -- I love that quote!

COYLE is a masterpiece, BULLITT and BREAKING AWAY are both great. MURPHY'S WAR I loved as a kid and haven't checked it out since. Note to self.


Along with BULLITT, FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, and BREAKING AWAY, I'd also like to add some love to THE DRESSER. It gets dismissed nowadays as "Oscar bait", but I thought it was a well-made chamber piece, and Finney and Courtenay were both topnotch (as to Finney being over-the-top, I accept it in the context). And while THE HOT ROCK isn't as good as Westlake's novel, I still thought it was a lot of fun.

I wish ROBBERY was available in this country; I've never seen it, but have heard great things about it.


I can hear that 60s jazz flute now while McQueen and Bisset dine out with friends at some hip San Francisco restaurant as McQueen does a wonderful bit with a waiter and an errant menu. lovely.

Lord Henry

@ lipranzer -- Oh THE HOT ROCK is really enjoyable. I forgot about that one. "Afghanistan bananistan!" Never seen JOHN AND MARY. Another note to self.


I hope I'm able to write something up. I'm not very good at this sort of thing in general, and don't know much about Yates outside of the fact that he made at least three films I think very highly of, and one of those three, EDDIE COYLE, is possibly my favorite crime film of all time. It's exquisite.


The Criterion Collection DVD of EDDIE COYLE includes Yates' elderly but avuncular commentary -- maybe the last film-related thing he did.


Sad to hear the news of Peter Yates passing. May he rest in peace.

As has been mentioned, "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" is one of the best. A favorite of mine for many years.

Robert Mitchum at the very top of his game surrounded by a fine supporting cast including...Peter Boyle, Steven Keats, Alex Rocco, and the late, great Richard Jordan, who damn near steals the film as Foley.

A wicked pissah movie.


I don't think I've fallen as hard for any film I've seen in the last 2 or 3 years as I did for COYLE. That shot of Mitchum at the end of the bar before he goes to the Bruins game with Boyle just kills me. I also would have gladly watched a series of films with Richard Jordan's character as protagonist.

Kent Jones

"Numbah 4, Bobby Orr..."

Richard Jordan was a very special actor. He really made an impact in EDDIE COYLE and THE YAKUZA. He didn't get that many more interesting roles - INTERIORS, DUNE and A FLASH OF GREEN excepted. I've never seen ALIBIS by Pierre Rissient, but that's got to be pretty good.

Glenn Kenny

Hear, hear on Richard Jordan, Kent. One of those actors that the "industry" seemed to not know what to do with—Joan Hackett also springs to mind in that respect. He had an incredible knack for revealing the deep damage of his characters; its was always there, just below his mischievous good looks. If I recall correctly, he was about the only member of the ensemble of "Interiors" who was able to infuse some idiosyncratic vitality into its always at least slightly stilted dialogue. And like Hackett, he was gone far, far too soon.

Kent Jones

I remember Mary Beth Hurt as another bright spot in INTERIORS.

As a young adolescent, I was thrilled when Jordan and his men stepped out of the cellar with guns drawn to surprise Alex Rocco and his team: "April fool, motherfuckers."


@ Kent:

As a young actor starting out in 1975, I had the good fortune to land at a little theatre, in a seedy part of Hollywood, founded by Ralph Waite.

It was there, that I met Richard Jordan. The man was the real deal. Such a cool cat, loaded with talent. He, along with Dana Elcar and Donald Moffat, had free classes, which I took full advantage of.

Some fond memories, as I now look back. I'm grateful to have had those opportunities and happy to see the love out there for Richard Jordan today.

One of my favorite scenes in Eddie Coyle is the bust at the train station parking lot. Jordan and team come flyin' out of the bushes, his adrenalin just flowing, as he proceeds to read Steven Keats his rights. Watching him was pure joy.

Goes without saying, the scenes between him and Mitchum is film acting at it's best.

"Have a nice day."


And Jordan made a great sensitive bodyguard to Mitchum in THE YAKUZA - he nails every scene, especially his last in the film.


As someone who lived with a father and a college roomate who both would've gladly played THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER on a loop if left to their own devices, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how much I came to look forward to every single line reading Jordan has in that film.

"Your aircraft have dropped enough sonar bouys that a man could WALK from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without gettin his feet wet! Now shall we dispense with the bull?"

Kent Jones

Jimmy, thanks for letting me know about your experiences with Jordan, Moffat and Elcar, three fine actors. I noticed that Moffat appeared in the Ralph Waite movie ON THE NICKEL, along with Jack Kehoe. Were you around for that?

The scenes between Jordan and Peter Boyle are also great - in fact, they almost frame the movie.


Kent, yeah, I was there. Such a good place to be, especially for a young punk starting out. Just a twenty-two year kid, fresh outta Boston, with nothin' but a dream of becoming an actor. Ralph was a very generous man to so many people who found a home at his theatre. I was very lucky.

True story, Oct/75, I'd left Cape Cod, drove cross-country to LA to seek my fame and fortune. Shortly after arriving one day, up on Beechwood Canyon Drive, I ran into Richard Romanus, who was in my all-time favorite movie "Mean Streets". Long story-short, I had these "Mean Streets" T-shirts I'd made in the trunk of my car. I gave Richard one and he was thrilled. We talked. I asked him if he knew of a good place where I might go to study, meet other actors and he directed me to Ralph's theatre.

I soon went over and immediately found myself onstage one night. Afterwards, Ralph came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in a play he had going on. ABSOLUTELY! I told him I didn't have much experience. He didn't seem to care. He sent me downstairs, where I met Jack Kehoe (who was directing) George Loros (who wrote the piece) and Wilford Brimley (who was playing one of the DI's)among some other actors.

The play was called "Welcome to Parris Island" and it was about a group of young men going through USMC basic training. Even though the play never made it to the stage (creative differences) I loved every minute of the experience.

What was most amazing about my adventure was the fact that two weeks before I left the Cape, my younger brother had joined the Marines and was at Parris Island while I was out in LA working on this play.


Man, that was a fine time. These guys were all such wonderful actors. Great characters. Ralph put a few of them, (Donald Moffat, Jack Kehoe), into his movie. "On the Nickel" was a labor of love. I'd like to see it again sometime. A little gem of a film.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a bit.

And yes, I agree, the scenes between Richard Jordan and Peter Boyle are excellent. Frame the movie. Indeed.

Take care.


Henry: Actually, the line is "Afghanistan Banana Stand." Yes, HOT ROCK is a sadly underrated film, and what a cast! But I think most people would agree that the real auteur there was Westlake.

Lord Henry

@ Cadavra

"Actually, the line is "Afghanistan Banana Stand.""

Oh that's great, thanks! I've been getting that wrong all these years!

The University of Chicago Press is republishing all the early Parker novels. I read THE HUNTER years ago (purely because of POINT BLANK) and thought it was just okay. Are the others worth pursuing?

Jon Hastings

Lord Henry - I think THE HUNTER is actually one of the lesser Parker novels: it's fine as a stripped-down, hard-boiled actioner, but it lacks a lot of the wit and razor-sharp plotting of the later books. The early cycle really hits its stride with THE MOURNER, but the second cycle - starting with COMEBACK and going all the way to DIRTY MONEY - is Westlake's masterpiece: a look at American greed in all of its shapes, sizes, and colors.

Lord Henry

Thanks, Jon! I'm going to get on to those.

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