Richard Jordan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying ATF agent Dave Foley in The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
It's a little interesting that Richard Jordan is an actor who for quite awhile I only knew from a single performance in Gettysburg, which I consider to be one of the all time great supporting turns. I could say he was a great actor from that performance but that was the only performance I knew him from. I still have not seen a great deal of Jordan's work but now seeing another one of his turns it is confirmed to me at least, that he is indeed a great actor. His work in Gettysburg feels in a way even greater seeing that he's unrecognizable between the two performances, and not just because the age difference and the period facial hair in that later film. Jordan might as well be a different person entirely in his realization of Dave Foley. Jordan's approach to Foley is rather fascinating in that he's almost the hero cop character you might see in a different film, the problem though here is that Foley's not the hero of this story, not that there is one.
Jordan though plays the part realistically though with just the right touches of a personal style not unlike say a Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Jordan carries a certain "cool" in his work that one would normally associate with the cop hero that we like, but again Jordan does something brilliant with this. Jordan actually makes this rather in a way as he only takes this approach when he is talking to either of his informants whether it is the past his prime Eddie (Robert Mitchum) or the completely amoral Dillon (Peter Boyle). Jordan in these scenes plays it Foley as a guy who just doesn't sweat the small stuff or in this case the big stuff. Jordan makes Foley rather casual as he speaks to both men about essentially trading in their friends for favors. Jordan brings that "cool" about it that grants this vicious edge to the scenes though making the informing seems perhaps a little too easy in a way. Jordan smartly contrasts though against Foley in the field the field where he portrays not quite as as smooth of an operator. Oh he's good at his job but Jordan is careful to reveal a genuine in tension as Foley carefully takes down his friends. Jordan's remarkable because he gives these moments the needed severity as though he is indeed the hero, and lead of the film, though again of course he's not. Jordan's best scenes though are those with the informers particularly the ones he shares with Mitchum. Jordan's great by creating this combination of attitude Foley has towards Eddie. In that he brings enough of a casual ease as though he's his friend, yet Jordan underlines this all with a definite intensity particularly when he notes a lack of effort by Eddie to produce real information. Jordan's terrific in the way he so effectively makes Foley completely manipulative yet never appearing as such. When he tells Eddie that he needs more, after Eddie already has given info out, Jordan offers such a sympathetic face like he honestly cares about the man. He so warmly speaks to him, suggests he give more info, yet there is no true empathy in his eyes, as he coveys a indifference towards Eddie just below the surface reinforced by his cold disinterest whenever Eddie can produce something. What makes this performance so special is the way Jordan is law offer hero we'd usually empathize with, using methods you'd usually describe as slick, but since the film humanizes the crook, particularly the sad sack Eddie, it in turn shows how cruel such a figure can be through a shifted perspective.