CINEOPOLIS — The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Episode 104 of CINEOPOLIS travels to Boston to explore how Peter Yates’ 1973 film The Friends of Eddie Coyle employs icon Beantown locations, and to examine what role architecture plays in a film steadily earning its status as an American classic…

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When is the last time you thought about where a movie took place? The rooms, cities, and architecture where movies are set are just as important as the script, actors, and special effects, yet we rarely give locations and sets their due. It’s high time that conversation began to change. CINEOPOLIS is a podcast, hosted by film historian Christian Niedan and editor and culture journalist Dante A. Ciampaglia, about movies — and the places that made them. Through deep dives into movies and filmmakers and discussions with professionals, critics, and authors, CINEOPOLIS will change how you see movies…and the world around you. Over the ten episodes that comprise this inaugural season, Christian and Dante will be your guides on a journey into the rooms, cities, and architecture where movies are set through thorough examinations into films and filmmakers.

Hollywood is long on celebrities, but Robert Mitchum is in a class by himself. A monumental actor and a towering presence of a man, he was often described in totemic and geologic terms. He was “our last connection to the era when stars were icons, granite faces carved in mountains in close-up,” Stephen Hunter wrote in The Washington Post when Mitchum died in 1997. He had “a forehead like the polar icecap,” Hunter continued, “a good crop of wavy hair, cheekbones like bed knobs and a piercing chin.” For most of his career, Mitchum was the unquestionable center of gravity in dozens of set-bound studio pictures. But what happens when this weathered force of nature is dropped into the country’s stagflating built environment? The answer is The Friends of Eddie Coyle, director Peter Yates’ 1973 bummer noir adaptation of George V. Higgins’ novel of low-rent Boston hoods — with Mitchum’s Eddie at the center — scratching out meager existences on armed robberies, gun deals, and as pocket-change snitches for the feds. And it all takes place against the backdrop of Boston’s mid-century Brutalism and city planning. On this episode of CINEOPOLIS, co-hosts Christian and Dante discuss Eddie Coyle’s use of iconic Boston locations, how Yates makes the city a central character, and the role architecture plays in this epic downer of a film earning its status as an American classic.

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