January 16, 2011

MORE LIKE THE MIDWIFE:

The father of Boston noir (Boston Globe, January 16, 2011)

THE DEATH of British filmmaker Peter Yates last week passed largely unremarked in New England. Most papers, even in this region, identified him as the director of “Bullitt,’’ the Steve McQueen car-chase film, and “Breaking Away,’’ the coming-of-age movie about young bicyclists. But in his eclectic career — and it was nothing if not eclectic, from British costume dramas to Barbra Streisand comedies — he was also the inventor of what is now known as the Boston crime movie.

That distinction wasn’t enough to make his obituary, but it may be his legacy. As Yates grew older and faded from the movie scene, his 1973 classic “The Friends of Eddie Coyle’’ served as an inspiration for such recent films as “The Departed,’’ “Gone Baby Gone,’’ and the current Oscar contender “The Town.’’ The place that Yates captured was home to a bunch of scruffy low-lifes whose gang robberies reflected ethnic and class divisions. The vision was largely that of “Coyle’’ author George V. Higgins, the late novelist and Globe columnist whose pared-down dialogue made him the bard of Boston. But the poignancy, especially from Robert Mitchum in the title role, was largely rendered by Yates.



Posted by Orrin Judd at January 16, 2011 10:10 AM
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