Blu-Ray Review: Charley Varrick

When we think about Walter Matthau today, it’s his great comedy roles which spring to mind. Comedy is what made him famous, and he was never better than when he was working in tandem with Jack Lemmon. Mattheu won an Oscar for his performance in Fortune Cookie, but it was another of the duo’s films (The Odd Couple) which remains his most famous today. However, he was a versatile actor who played many dramatic roles. One of his best is Charley Varrick.

Charley Varrick (Matthau) is a former stunt pilot who uses a fake crop-dusting business as a front to carry out minor robberies. When he knocks off a small bank with his wife Nadine (Jacqueline Scott) and partners Al (Andrew Robinson) and Harman (Andrew Robinson), they get more than they bargained for. Whilst the loot is over three quarters of a million, the news is reporting it’s only a couple of grand. Which means it’s the mob’s money and they’re in big trouble.

Charley Varrick is a compelling crime drama which is one of director Don Siegel’s most underrated films. Siegel, who made his name working with Clint Eastwood, pits Charley up against Molly, a hit man played by (Joe Don Baker). As the noose tightens and Harman becomes more and more erratic, Charley has a big decision to make. Charley Varrick is an impressive ‘70s American heist movie which doesn’t just play it straight.

Indicator Limited Edition Special Features:

• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• 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 ‘Universal 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
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by author and critic Richard Combs, Don Siegel on Charley Varrick, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

Charley Varrick is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on 22 January.

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