Saturday, 8 January 2011

Crimes & Punishments

The League of Gentlemen is a sharp heist thriller from 1960 about a bunch of disgraced ex-military miscreants who team up to snatch a van load of cash in broad daylight. Nicely directed by Basil Dearden it's packed with sarcastic banter among the affable rogues (including Jack Hawkins, Bryan Forbes & Richard Attenborough) and it's pretty entertaining but the majority of the film is spent on the build-up and the heist & it's aftermath feel a little squashed in at the end. Still worth watching though.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a really nice, quiet thriller about an aging fixer, played by Robert Mitchum, who when faced with another stretch in prison decides to grass up a local gun runner in a deal with a shady FBI agent but unfortunately provokes the ire of his bank robbing chums. While director Peter Yates' earlier crime thriller Bullit emphasised style over substance Coyle is it's exact opposite and is a much better film imo. It's all very understated stuff with a gritty, everyday feel to the criminal life (obvious inspiration for The Sopranos & Affleck's The Town) and an intelligent script, tense plotting and sporting a great ensemble headed by Mitchum's brilliant central performance this is a rare treat indeed.

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