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Between Friends

Year: 1973
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 90 min
Director: Donald Shebib
Executive Producer: G Adams
Writer: Claude Harz
Cinematographer: Richard Leiterman
Editor: Tony Lower, Donald Shebib
Sound: Jim McCarthy
Music: Matthew McCauley
Cast: Chuck Shamata, Michael Parks, Bonnie Bedelia, Henry Beckman, Hugh Webster
Production Company: Clearwater Films
Will (Henry Beckman) and his friend Coker (Hugh Webster) have worked their whole lives at the nickel smelter in Sudbury and have their minds set on stealing the payroll. They enlist the assistance of Chino (Chuck Shamata), the boyfriend of Will’s daughter Ellie (Bonnie Bedelia), and Chino’s American surfing buddy Toby (Michael Parks). As planning and preparation for the heist progresses, Toby and Ellie are attracted to each other and eventually sleep together. Back in Toronto, complications arise when Ellie tells Chino of the affair. After Coker dies suddenly of a heart attack, Will is distraught, but the team decides to go through with the robbery. Their plans, however, go horribly awry: Will is shot and Chino is wounded during the getaway. Toby returns to Ellie with the body of her father, while a dying Chino makes a futile attempt to escape.

In spite of the mythic resonance and justifiable fame of Goin’ Down the Road (1970), Between Friends is perhaps Donald Shebib’s finest effort. A taut, dramatic study of loyalty, Canada-United States relations and the limitations of male bonding, Between Friends neatly captures the frustrations embedded in the ending of adolescent fantasies – the end of a world that never really existed. Concerned with themes of separation, aimlessness and nostalgia for an irretrievable past, the film is distinguished by its use of desolate Northern Ontario landscapes to reflect the oppressive melancholy of the characters, and by its failed heist sequence, which rivals any film noir you can name.

Between Friends was in competition for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (where it was presented under its working title, Get Back).