FIND MOVIES
Movie List
Loading ...
or
Find Theaters and Movie Times
or
Search Movies

Hardboiled hub

By PETER KEOUGH  |  October 21, 2009

Lehane and Doherty also agree on the book and film that best expresses this point of view. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” says Doherty of the Yates film. “You know life is a horrible, meaningless, existential void when your bartender betrays you.”

0910_coyle_main
BAR NONE: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) may be the best example of Boston noir, filled with darkly poetic, guilty Irish-Catholics prone to senseless acts of violence.

With friends like these
There were noirish movies set in Boston before Yates adapted Higgins’s novel. As Paul Sherman points out in his book Big Screen Boston, some of the first Hollywood films shot here — Mystery Street (1950), Walk East on Beacon! (1952), and Six Bridges to Cross (1955) — are artifacts from the classic period of film noir. But it wasn’t until Robert Mitchum mastered the first decent Boston accent in cinema history and played Higgins’s doomed working-class townie mobster Eddie Coyle that a potential Boston noir genre was born.

And quickly died. Eddie Coyle fared badly at the box office, and any momentum for other Boston-based noir movies halted around the time of William Friedkin’s The Brinks Job (1978). Life imitated art a little too much with Brinks, as the real-life denizens of the Boston-noir world shook down the production. As described in Sherman’s book, the incidents ranged from extortion by the teamsters to gunmen stealing cans of exposed film from the production office, with little recourse from local government offices or agencies.

For years, the pillaging continued and the Boston-based productions dwindled as the city actually ended up on Hollywood’s blacklist. For Nick Paleologos, who took charge of the Massachusetts Film Office in 2007, the ongoing legacy of Hollywood productions looted by Boston locals was his biggest obstacle to restoring the state’s credibility as a location. “I wish I had a nickel for every single time I was confronted in that first year,” he recalls. “Whenever I would do the tax-credit panels in Los Angeles, inevitably, when the Q&A period came, someone would jump up and say, ‘I was in Massachusetts shooting in 1998 or 2001 or ’96 or whatever,’ and everybody had a horror story about being ripped off, and it seemed they all found their way to Teamsters Local 25.”

Then Cambridge natives Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997) and starred in the film directed by Gus Van Sant. Though not a noir per se, it possessed noir elements, especially with its depiction of the benighted lives and straitened neighborhoods of its South Boston characters. The film proved a critical and commercial hit, receiving nine Oscar nominations and winning two, Best Screenplay for Damon and Affleck and Best Supporting Actor for Robin Williams. (Williams, it must be said, has perhaps the worst Boston accent in any movie. Ever.)

It looked like Boston noir might get another chance. Small, gritty films like Robert Patton-Spruill’s Squeeze (1997), Ted Demme’s Monument Ave. (1998), and John Shea’s Southie (1998) showed promise of sustaining the genre’s life. But not for long.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |   next >
  Topics: Features , Celebrity News, Entertainment, Tom Cruise,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY PETER KEOUGH
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BUFFET DINING: THE 15TH BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 19, 2013
    "Copraphagy" is a key word at this year's Boston Underground Film Festival at the Brattle.
  •   REVIEW: GINGER & ROSA  |  March 19, 2013
    Sally Potter likes to mess around with form and narrative.
  •   UNDERGROUND CINEMA: THE 12TH BOSTON TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 12, 2013
    This year's Boston Turkish Film Festival includes works in which directors ponder the relationships between the secular and the religious, between men and women, and between destiny and identity.
  •   REVIEW: A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III  |  March 12, 2013
    In Roman Coppola's sophomoric second feature (his 2001 debut CQ was promising), Charlie Sheen shows restraint as the titular asshole, a dissolute ad designer and solipsistic whiner who's mooning over the loss of his latest love.
  •   REVIEW: UPSIDE DOWN  |  March 14, 2013
    Had Ed Wood Jr. directed Fritz Lang's Metropolis , he couldn't have achieved the earnest dopiness of Juan Solanas's sci-fi allegory — nor the striking images.

 See all articles by: PETER KEOUGH