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Literature: The Friends of Eddie Coyle

With friends like these..!

Eddie Coyle has a problem. He's going to prison, and needs the help of a cop to vouch for him so that his sentence is reduced. Only thing is, his way out is to become a snitch. He knows a few low-to-mid level hoods, but will it be enough to buy him his freedom?

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a 1970 novel by Boston author George V. Higgins, which was adapted as a 1973 movie starring Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, and Alex Rocco.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Dillon, who is the guy you'd least suspect would lead Eddie to his death. And kill him personally.
  • Badass Grandpa: Subverted because, while he's old(er), Eddie Coyle is decidedly a schlub.
  • Bank Robbery: Several on the part of Scalise, and the surprising thing is they (mostly) go off without a hitch. Except the last one.
  • Compensating for Something: Dave's awful, wonderful 1972 Plymouth Road Runner with a 383 Hemi V8. In lime green.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Sadly, Eddie is easily duped and killed by the story's real bad guy, Dillon, who was best buds all along with Jackie Brown, the cop that was Eddie's last, best hope. This is made worse by the fact that Eddie delayed giving Jackie the information that could have saved his own life.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : Subverted mostly, in that most of the gangster characters are either doomed, broke, headed to prison — or all three.
  • Downer Ending: Hoo-yeah! Despite what we think, Eddie is easily duped by his good friend into coming along to a hockey game, where shortly thereafter he's killed. It's made all the worse by the fact that this same "friend" is the actual guy who ratted out the guys whom the other guys paid to kill Eddie. Catch that?
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Ironically subverted in that Eddie has no true friends.
  • The Film of the Book: The original novel was the literary debut of George V. Higgins, then an Assistant United States Attorney in Boston.
  • Friendly Enemy: Dillon, who is Eddie's drinking buddy and regular bartender, ends up using Eddie to eliminate Scalise, then murders Eddie.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Eddie continues trusting those around him, despite the fact that after Scalise goes down, everyone is sure that Eddie was the snitch. And that means one thing...
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Mean, but perhaps true.
  • Karma Houdini: To intensify the Downer Ending, Dillon gets away with betraying and murdering Eddie.
  • Left Hanging: Gun dealer Dave Foley is arrested after Eddie tips the cops on Dave's upcoming machine gun sale. He swears Revenge, but is never heard from again.
  • Loser Protagonist: Sadly, that just about sums ol' Eddie up.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Despite pretending to live by a code of honor, Eddie is set up as a fall guy by Dillon, who makes Eddie look like a snitch to get him whacked. The irony is that Eddie tried to be a snitch, but failed miserably.
  • Outlaw Couple: The wannabe hippie couple who want to buy guns from Dave.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Slightly subverted. While the script is full of memorable lines, scenes and characters do tend to meander (enjoyably).
  • Twist Ending: It's bad enough that Eddie is killed, until we find out that the reason it happened was Dillon and Jackie Brown were friends all along.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Double subverted? In that Robert Mitchum is considered comely in some quarters, where his movie wife is, while not unattractive... not.

The FreshmanCreator/The Criterion CollectionFrom Russia with Love
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alternative title(s): The Friends Of Eddie Coyle
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