How ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ Inspired a Real-Life Bank Robbery

Life often mirrors art, and ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle,’ a neo-noir thriller from the 1970s, is a prime example. This often-overlooked gem stars Robert Mitchum in one of his most underrated performances, portraying a downtrodden Bostonian named Eddie Coyle. Directed by Peter Yates, the film initially went unnoticed but gained attention years later when a real-life bank robbery echoed its plot.

Mitchum, known for his tough-guy roles in noir films, delivers a compelling portrayal of Coyle, a gunrunner entangled with the local Irish mob. Despite its initial lack of success, the film is now celebrated for its stellar performances, intense action sequences, and occasional bursts of violence.

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Friends of Eddie Coyle Real Robbery
Image Courtesy: IMDb

The plot follows Coyle’s struggles to avoid prison by informing his gun supplier to an ATF agent. However, he soon finds himself caught between conflicting interests, leading to his downfall. The title’s irony lies in Coyle’s lack of genuine friends, despite his efforts to help others.

Based on a novel by George V. Higgins, ’The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ received a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While it may not have achieved the same recognition as other neo-noirs, its re-release on DVD in 2009 reignited interest, especially due to its realistic bank robbery scenes.

Friends of Eddie Coyle Real Robbery
Image Courtesy: IMDb

In a strange twist of life imitating art, a real-life bank robbery closely resembled those depicted in the film shortly after its DVD release. Although the cinematic heists were successful, the real-life perpetrator was apprehended by the police.

Mitchum’s performance as Coyle is hailed as one of his best, showcasing his versatility and talent. The film’s gritty portrayal of Boston’s criminal underworld influenced subsequent filmmakers, including Ben Affleck, who drew inspiration for his own work.

– Farheen Ali