Rent Charley Varrick (1973)

3.8 of 5 from 127 ratings
1h 46min
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Charley Varrick is a small-time crook who outfoxes the Mob in this fast-paced offbeat thriller directed by Don Siegel. Academy Award winner Walter Matthau stars in a rare dramatic role, along with the powerful Joe Don Baker, as a tough Mafia hitman. Charley robs small banks with small payrolls. That keeps him out of trouble until he stumbles onto the Mob's secret stash. The chase is on as the Big Boys go after the "Last of the Independents". It's a heart-pounding ride that builds to a fiery airborne climax as Charley makes his last desperate run for the Mexican border and safety.
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Don Siegel
John Reese, Howard Rodman
Arthur Lowe, Frank Morriss, Marlon Brando
Action & Adventure, Classics, Thrillers
Getting to Know..., Getting to Know: Joe Pesci, Heist Movies: Masterminds and Mavericks, A Brief History of Film...

1974 BAFTA Best Actor

Release Date:
Run Time:
106 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
DVD Regions:
Region 0 (All)
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
Release Date:
Run Time:
111 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0, English LPCM Mono
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and the Making of'Charley Varrick' (2015, 75 mins): feature-length documentary containing interviews with actors Andy Robinson and Jacqueline Scott, stunt driver Craig R. Baxley and Siegel's son, Kristoffer Tabori
  • The John Player Lecture with Don Siegel (1973, 75 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Sloman at London's National Film Theatre
  • The Guardian Lecture with Walter Matthau (1988, 89 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Sloman at London's National Film Theatre
  • Super 8 version (18 mins): original TJniversal Eight' cut-down home cinema presentation
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Josh Olson and Howard Rodman trailer commentary (2013, 6 mins): a short critical appreciation Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
  • UK Blu-ray' premiere

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Reviews (3) of Charley Varrick

Crackerjack heist thriller has it all - and then some! - Charley Varrick review by IM

Spoiler Alert

Despite its age this holds up as a beautifully constructed and directed heist-gone-wrong caper, superbly cast, highly entertaining and memorable. Enjoy!

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Top 70s Crime Drama - Charley Varrick review by GI

Spoiler Alert

This is a neat crime film from the 1970s directed by Don Siegel who made a well respected series of westerns and cop/crime dramas in the 60s and 70s including Coogan's Bluff (1968), Madigan (1968) and Dirty Harry (1971). Charley Varrick has grown in stature over the years and has been cited as a favourite of Quentin Tarantino. Siegel had, of course, used the then big box office star Clint Eastwood in many of his films and so the use of Walter Matthau is an interesting one. Here he plays the worldly wise Charley, an experienced criminal, who along with his wife and two men rob a small New Mexico bank. It all goes wrong when the police show up and Charley's wife is killed but his troubles just get worse when the haul from the robbery is very large indeed and Charley realises they have inadvertently stolen mafia money that the bank was laundering. Soon Charley must use all his wits to outwit both the police and the mob who have sent their chief hitman (Joe Don Baker) to find him and retrieve the money. Matthau was a very versatile actor who could do comedy as well as serious drama and be menacing if needed. He's perfect here as the weary criminal who needs to outfox some serious bad guys and stay out of prison. The film has a good support cast of Siegel regulars including John Vernon and Woodrow Parfrey. The 1970s was the heart of the American New wave and pushed the boundaries in film especially adult cinema and whilst this has nothing compared to the violence seen today this was a gutsy film for its time and well worth seeking out.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Chaing a Biplane in a Car is Never Going to End Well - Charley Varrick review by Strovey

Spoiler Alert

Don Siegel famous for his hard-boiled and at that time ‘realisitic’ thrillers that often featured Clint Eastwood directed this hard-boiled and ‘realistic thriller in the seventies but instead of Eastwood, who turned down the role of hitman Mr. Molly, his main character was the mainly comedic actor Walter Matthau. It should not have worked but somehow the film and story do.

Made in 1973 and watched through the lens of 2023 there are many faults and hokey parts within but the film is not without charm and thrills and due to some good acting from the main actors it certainly drags itself above other fare from that time.

Matthau, who famously did not like the film, does not let this show in his performance and plays to his strong suit, he is laconic, easy going and intelligent. What you do not expect from world-weary-looking actor is a great deal of double-crossing and while actually not violent, the threat of violence, and menace which do lead to death and murder.

The casting and acting perfectly counterpoint this by having his major protagonists all being awful human beings, Andrew Robinson, so convincing as Scorpio in Dirty Harry that he got death threats, here is dialled down from that to ‘just’ being unthinking, greedy and selfish, traits which means he pays the ultimate price. Hunting down the robbers is Joe Don Baker who is pitch-perfect as the psychopath mafia hitman Mr. Molly. He plays it straight, no eye-swivelling over-the-top histrionics, the type of well-dressed, pipe-smoking large chap you would hardly notice walking down the street. After all if you are noticeably mad and behaved like a killer all day, it would not be hard to find you.

Top it all off and we have another former Siegel go-to the late great John Vernon, as the slimy, double-dealing, president of the bank and mafia frontman. Playing to his acting strength he steals every scene he is in and plays down, quiet, confident and realistic. A joy to watch.

Even the supporting characters, sheriffs, the weak-willed bank manager and double-dealing photographer Jewell Everett played with great skill by Sheree North are all at their best. Proving casting supporting characters is important and if your cast is good it will elevate any story you have on screen.

The film is based extremely loosely on The Looters novel (which does not focus on any one character and has no happy ending) is nothing original involving small-time crooks crossing the mafia. Charley Varrick was focussed on to give the audience someone to root for but herein lies that particular rub, Varrick, even played by Matthau, is not nice and I for one did not particularly care if he lived or died by the end. His wife and partners shot two policeman and a septuagenarian security guard just for what they thought was a few thousand dollars. Just because their adversaries were more corrupt and murderous than them does not make them ‘better’.

All-in-all the tale whips along and is fairly realistic and believable, especially for early 70s cops and robbers, but what was probably thought as a great twist and exciting denouement is the film’s weakest point and took me out of the story. Without spoiling it for any who have not seen this film I would say it looks as if the final act was written by an excitable 16-year-old boy in a hurry. Too easily wrapped up, formerly thoughtful and professional characters suddenly become dunderheads to allow a ‘happy’ ending.

A reasonably enjoyable film with a disappointing ending. Very 1970s so do not expect enlightened attitudes

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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