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Sherlock’s Classics: Film Review – Charley Varrick (1973)

Article image for Sherlock’s Classics: Film Review – Charley Varrick (1973)

Top notch action-crime-thriller starring screen veteran Walter Matthau as small time crook Charley Varrick and an out-of-the-way small town bank robbery that doesn’t go quite as planned, ending up with an unexpectedly high body count and the money stolen belonging to the Mafia, who are right on the case ahead of the police.

Aware of his problem, and no way to turn back, the only solution for Varrick to survive is to hatch a plan to get both the mafia and the police off his back, forever.

Legendary Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killers, Dirty Harry and Escape From Alcatraz director, and Clint Eastwood mentor, Don Siegel, hit another bullseye with Charley Varrick, released in Australia as Kill Charley Varrick.

Based on the novel The Looters by John Reese and superbly written for the screen by Howard Rodman and Dean Riesner, director Don Siegel keeps it taut, tight, lean and mean, brilliantly constructed, executed and edited for full maximum edge-of-your-seat impact, and the results are gripping all the way.

The always reliable Walter Matthau is dynamic in the title role, and the supporting cast including Joe Don Baker, and former Dirty Harry alumni Andy Robinson as Varrick’s side-kick and John Vernon as the mafia go-between are all right on the money, no pun intended.

A special mention must go to the spectacular flying sequences by legendary stunt pilot Frank Tallman (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Catch-22, Capricorn One).

Charley Varrick is an intelligent, stimulating and hugely entertaining nail-biting thriller from a master filmmaker at his peak, a crackling classic of 70s cinema that is never forgotten once seen.


Stars: ****