Blu-Ray News #181: Charley Varrick (1973).

Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Walter Matthau, Andy Robinson, Joe Don Baker, John Vernon, Sheree North, Felicia Farr, Norman Fell, Woodrow Parfrey, William Schallert, Bob Steele

If Don Siegel had never made another movie — no Private Hell 36 (1954), no Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956), no Dirty Harry (1971), no The Shootist (1976) — he’d be one of my favorite directors on the strength of Charley Varrick (1973) alone. This movie’s perfect in so many ways. A perfect crime picture. The cream of the crop of 70s action movies (and there’s some serious competition there). Flawlessly acted by an incredible cast. It’s in my Top 10 for sure.

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And it’s finally coming to Blu-Ray here in the States from Kino Lorber. If you haven’t gotten an import already, you really need this. Essential!

8 Comments

Filed under 1973, Andy Robinson, Don Siegel, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Don Baker, Kino Lorber, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau

8 responses to “Blu-Ray News #181: Charley Varrick (1973).

  1. Richard Oravitz

    Great news, Toby. I’ve been waiting a long time for this release and it’s a MUST buy. It came out at that time in my life (1965-1975) when I literally lived in movie theaters. Also saw BLACK WINDMILL in the theater, but remembered being somewhat disappointed. After DIRTY HARRY & CHARLEY VARRICK it seemed rather slow and talky for a Siegel film, and Caine after IPCRESS FILE & GET CARTER seemed half asleep. Of course we’re talking 40+ years ago when I was expecting every film to be the next WILD BUNCH… And with mentor Siegel in more familiar territory than Peckinpah with the urban crime thriller, I’ve always wondered what THE GETAWAY would have turned out like had Siegel directed it. Siegel seemed like the perfect director for Jim Thompson’s novels.

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  2. walter

    Toby, CHARLEY VARRICK has always been a favorite movie of mine ever since I first saw it back in the 1970’s. Howard Rodman wrote the first screenplay , which was based on the novel THE LOOTERS(1968) by John Henry Reese. Reese was a Western novelist, who started in the Pulps in the 1930’s. Don Siegel brought in Dean Riesner, scripter of DIRTY HARRY(1971), to write the version, which became CHARLEY VARRICK. This movie had, what seems like, the perfect casting of actors. Joe Don Baker, as Molly, was never better. Jacqueline Scott was Charley’s wife and a good driver, as well as a lovely lady. Andrew Robinson could play an edgy out of control nutcase, as well as anybody. Sheree North the seen it all, been around the track a few times, photographer. She reminds me of someone I know personally and she is a good writer and photographer. I could keep going on about this great cast.

    I think Don Siegel was a master at making crime movies, hands down. CHARLEY VARRICK is one of his masterpieces.

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    • It DOES have a near-perfect cast. The women’s roles are the ones that stand out here for me — Jacqueline Scott and Sheree North. Their scenes with Matthau are so well-played.

      Your comment reminded me to go back and add Woodrow Parfrey to the cast list — he deserves the mention.

      Siegel made so many good films, and this one seems to take all his strengths and really concentrate them. God, I love it!

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  3. walter

    Toby, I most certainly agree that the wonderful actor Woodrow Parfrey should be mentioned. I remember a scene between him and Joe Don Baker that was really good. Norman Fell, how many cops did he play in his acting career? John Vernon as an oily smooth frontman for the mob. Felicia Farr as his all knowing secretary. William Schallert as a Sheriff. In the Classic LONELY ARE THE BRAVE(1962), Walter Matthau was the sheriff and Schallert was the deputy. Bob Steele, who had been in movies since 1920, is a bank guard. Tom Tully, as a crooked gun dealer, in another good scene with Holly(Joe Don Baker). Marjorie Bennett, the nosey neighbor, whose first movie was in 1917. Hope Summers, matron extraordinaire. Rudy Diaz(COOGAN’S BLUFF-“put your pants on chief”), as a deputy sheriff. Yes, a near-perfect cast.

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    • Love Coogan’s Bluff! My mom used the get me up for school in the morning with the line “Put your pants on, Chief.”

      I don’t remember, as a little kid, not knowing who Don Siegel was.

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    • Parfrey was in an episode of Adam-12 I saw the other day, playing a diner guy much like Jaffe in Dirty Harry — “The usual lunch or the usual dinner?”

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  4. walter

    Toby, I think i have known who Don Siegel is since I was about 12-13 years old. That was when I started keeping up with who directed and wrote movies.

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  5. And, BTW, Don Siegel ALSO directed FABIAN in HOUND DOG MAN (FOX’59), then ELVIS in FLAMING STAR (FOX ’60). CHARLEY VARRICK–one of the GREAT GANGSTER PICTURES of all-time, some perfect casting serves up a company of talent working together as fine tuned race-car passing by here, and containing a whole lot of truly memorable character/performances. This is ONE CRIME-CAPER you will want to see repeat viewings of, talk about a needed theater lobby prop; a ”NAIL-BITERS; BEWARE!” sign

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