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Boston Crime Films

by sd burch
In the past couple of decades, Boston has been discovered as a seething, teeming hotbed of literary and cinematic crime. Its best writers (e.g., George V. Higgins, Dennis Lehane, etc.) have created an extraordinary gallery of losers, punks, murderers, grifters and all encompassed within a mileu as sad and despairing as Greek tragedy. They have also attracted several of our finest filmmakers (and a few hacks, as well). The following is a personal list of the best and worst (Boondock Saints) in this sub-genre. Missing are some workmanlike gems like The Brink’s Job (dir. William Friedkin) and Walk East on Beacon, and horrors like Fuzz. (a… Read more

In the past couple of decades, Boston has been discovered as a seething, teeming hotbed of literary and cinematic crime. Its best writers (e.g., George V. Higgins, Dennis Lehane, etc.) have created an extraordinary gallery of losers, punks, murderers, grifters and all encompassed within a mileu as sad and despairing as Greek tragedy. They have also attracted several of our finest filmmakers (and a few hacks, as well). The following is a personal list of the best and worst (Boondock Saints) in this sub-genre. Missing are some workmanlike gems like The Brink’s Job (dir. William Friedkin) and Walk East on Beacon, and horrors like Fuzz. (a Burt Reynold’s insult to Ed McBain fans, not to mention Boston fans). I removed Boondock Saints because it is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (and easily, hands down, Willem Defoe’s worst performance, even more terrible than the Madonna turkey). But the films on this list are all exceptionally well acted and tightly directed. True, the Thomas Crown Affair sags in the middle, but McQueen’s performance is one of his best and most unusual (for him), and both Mystic River and The Departed sound like all the actors went to the same dialect coach, including Wahlberg (Dorchester) and Damon (Cambridge). But the acting is truthful, nonetheless, and when it comes to dialects, Mitchum’s actually sets him within a specific area of South Boston. For me, Eddie Coyle sets the bar, both as a film and as a novel, and has not been rivalled.

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