Sunday 17 September 2023

Movie Review: Charley Varrick (1973)

Genre: Heist Thriller
Director: Don Siegel
Starring: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Andy Robinson, John Vernon
Running Time: 111 minutes

Synopsis: In New Mexico, Charley Varrick (Walter Matthau) is a crop duster and ex-stunt pilot who robs remote rural banks for small amounts. But his latest job results in multiple casualties, including Charley's wife Nadine. Accomplice Harman (Andy Robinson) escapes with Charley and they are both shocked that their haul included $750,000 in Mafia money. Charley has to elude the authorities and manage the excitable Harman, while corrupt bank boss Maynard Boyle (John Vernon) hires ruthless fixer Molly (Joe Don Baker) to track down the thieves and recover the money. 

What Works Well: The adaptation of John H. Reese's book The Looters is a compact and clever crime drama with a sparkling sheen and a twinkle in the eye. Bad guys attempt to outsmart worse guys in a deadly game of cat and mouse, and in one of his career-best performances, Walter Matthau enjoys keeping Charley just one step ahead of everyone else. He is ably supported by Andy Robinson's intensity and Joe Don Baker's persistence. Pointed small roles also make a big difference, including intriguing contributions by Charley's wife, an expert forger, and an old geezer in a wheel chair. The wide open landscapes under blazing skies add an expansive aesthetic.

What Does Not Work As Well: The police investigation (represented by Norman Fell as Garfinkle) unrealistically never gets going.

Conclusion: A taut thriller with a confident attitude.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.