on 24 May 2011
This film has obviously influenced later works at least up to the 1990s and could arguably be described as a milestone. There is somewhat unusually much violence for the early 70s, but - hey folks,it's a Don Siegel movie!
What I like best next to suspense and an interesting storyline full of suprises is Walter Matthau acting one of his few unfunny parts. He is Charley Varrick, an independent criminal and one of the very few professionals in a world in which by far most outlaws are rather imbeciles or psychos than professionals. Varrick knows most of the time what to do and even more important what not to do and with his indestructible will to survive he even manages to trick the Mafia. Are there many Outlaws that shrewd and cold-blooded in the real world? Let's hope not.
P.S.: Subtitles would have been slightly nicer for non-native speakers.
on 11 May 2008
Charley is a crop duster, a business which he has a hard time making a decent living out of if the trailer-park home he shares with his wife is anything to go by. So, Charley and his gang rob the occasional small-town bank to make a bit of extra cash. One day it all goes wrong, a cop gets killed, and the gang make off with far more money than they ought for such a small bank, and far more money than the bank is reporting stolen. Varrick correctly guesses that the bank has been laundering money for the Mafia, who naturally want the money back. Enter Molly (Joe Don Baker), a cheerfully vicious and amoral gang enforcer and generally unstoppable force-of-nature who is hell-bent on tracking down Varrick an his crew.
This is an example of how crime films should be made, films driven by superb scriptwriting and direction (Don Siegel), and dialogue and action delivered by competent actors. If this movies ever comes out on R2, I'll be first in the queue
on 17 February 2009
I dont know how many times I have seen this film, it must be approaching 10, it is the type of film that can withstand repeated viewings, all the actors perform brilliantly, particularly Walter Matthau and Joe Don Baker
I like the fact that a dust crop flyer (Walter Matthau) can outsmart the best the Mafia can throw at him. I suspect I will probably watch it a few more times before I die.
Says the man looking at the business card, "'Charley Varrick, Last of the Independents.' I like that. Has a ring of finality." The man is Molly, a mob enforcer for special projects. You don't want to let him into your trailer. Charley Varrick will meet him when the small-time robbery Charley sets up at the Tres Cruces branch of Western Fidelity Bank goes really, really wrong.
Varrick (Walter Matthau) expected to clear maybe $20,000 or $30,000 from the heist. Instead, his wife, Nadine, waiting in the getaway car, shoots two cops, gets shot herself, and one of Charley's two associates gets killed. Charley, finally back at the trailer park and now a widow, is left with young, dumb Harmon Sullivan (Andrew Robinson) and exactly $765,118 in two big bags. When a newscast reports that the bank manager says only $2,000 was stolen, Charley wishes he'd stayed with stunt flying and crop dusting. The bank was mob controlled and all that cash was about to be sent out of the country for a good washing. Charley knows the cops are after him; now he knows the mob will be, too. They'll want their money back. Just as important, they're going to want to set an example.
Charley Varrick, for all its length (nearly two hours) and for all the queasiness of a ragged Walter Matthau boxing the compass on a round bed with a well-built mob babe, is one fine movie. The plot is so ingenious, the script so smart, the direction so tight, that all the cast members, as good as they are, could be replaced except for Matthau and Joe Don Baker as Molly and not a beat would be skipped.
Charley Varrick the movie comes down to a contest between Charley's sly-like-a-fox, laconic ingenuity and Molly's brutally direct approach to making love, repossessing a car or solving problems. Molly is a big man with a bland face, a nice smile, and who has serious anti-social issues. He smiles, but expect the worst from him if you're a black, a woman, in a wheelchair or the object of his contract. Walter Matthau, with his sagging face, con man personality and his shrewdness, is the heart of the movie, but Joe Don Baker makes you flinch with dreadful anticipation every time Molly comes on screen. Without these two powerful actors, Charley Varrick would have been a clever, amusing heist-and-chase movie. With the two of them, Charley Varrick is a classic.
Charley Varrick, along with The Laughing Policeman (1973) and Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) make up a sort of crime trifecta for Matthau. The Laughing Policeman is a good story although, in my opinion, it hasn't aged well. Pelham is just about as hard-edged as it was when it was released. Just as Charley Varrick benefits immensely from Joe Don Baker's Molly, Pelham benefits from Robert Shaw's utterly ruthless and dominating villain, code-named Blue.
Keep an eye out for William Schallert who plays Sheriff Bill Horton. I've always liked Schallert. He usually played smart and honorable guys, sometimes judges or doctors or just friends. He played a good friend of Walter Matthau's small town lawyer, Harmon Cobb, in the well-made TV mystery drama, Incident (1990). Cobb defends a German prisoner of war against a murder charge during WWII. It's an effective, tidy teleplay.
on 24 September 2011
"Charley Varrick" is a great first class crime thriller which is directed by Donald Siegal, who is probably best remembered for directing the classic "Dirty Harry". "Charley Varrick" has a clever plot which Walter Matthau and Andy Robinson steal money from the Mafia, which tough hitman Joe Don Baker hunts them down. But Walter Matthau has a few cunning tricks, especially towards the end. The acting performances are great, especially Walter Matthau who plays Charley Varrick, which he won a Bafta for best actor and Joe Don Baker and John Vernon play fine villains. Director Donald Siegal also has a cameo appearence as a table tennis player and he does a great job in directing this watchable movie. Walter Matthau would also star in another great crime movie a year after which is the classic "The taking of pelham 123" and if you haven't seen this film, it's also well worth watching.