Charley Varrick - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Charley Varrick Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 7, 2009
A nice piece of pulp and a great Mathau performance - slightly diluted by TV actors and the untold number of TV shows that copped Siegel's style. All the 70's cliches are here in abundance including an ever present hi-hat score and gratuitous lens flaring.
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2012
The early 1970s were a golden age for gritty American crime films. There must have been something in the water. For films such as The French Connection, The Getaway, & The Friends of Eddie Coyle all to have come out in one 3 year period seems nothing short of miraculous. Sure you can point to the waning idealism of the 1960s, coupled with the country being dragged through the mud of the Watergate scandal, as being a good source of inspiration for these films, but how they were all superbly crafted by these different filmmakers is pretty fascinating. Yet, whether the stars were perfectly aligned or not, you can add Don Siegel's "Charley Varrick" to the canon of great crime films from this period.
Right from the brilliantly staged opening heist, director Don Siegel takes you on quite a ride. The film is smartly paced. Siegel builds the tension while showing the minute details of this way of life. He knows when to hold back and when to quickly unleash.
Varrick is such an interesting character. He doesn't seem to love the thrill of the crime. In fact, he only seems to have stumbled into it because his previous career path of stunt piloting disintegrated. He is smart, rational, but in way over his head.
Speaking of Watergate, there must have been something cathartic about watching a reasonably good American take a piece of the pie from a crime syndicate that in my opinion, eerily resembles the American government. Efficiently run, but unfortunately by unscrupulous men. Even if we know his fate is likely sealed from the start, one can imagine that the American people must have been especially thrilled to see their money fall into the right hands for a change.
In Don Siegel's America there seems to be no honest living. The world is run on luck, both good and bad. Siegel must have had some good luck working in his favor because Varrick is a smart thriller that offers an interesting look into the early 1970s American mindset.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2008
An intelligent, discreet and very entertaining thriller by the master of pulp and badass-ness Don Siegel. Great performances by Joe Don Baker as the hitman Molly, and Walter Matthau as the crop-duster/bank robber Charley Varrick.
Super Reviewer
April 12, 2010
Fantastic thriller, and one of the finest and smartest plots ever committed to film.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2010
Don Siegel's follow up to the legendary Dirty Harry finds the title character Charley Varrick (Walter Matthau) down on his luck to the point that he hatches a plan to rob a small town bank. Charley and his gang (featuring Harry alum Andrew "Scorpio" Robinson) pull off the robbery, though with some hitches. But there's a problem- the bank served as a Mafia money laundering operation and, of course, the mob is after Charley in the form of a sadistic hit man (Joe Don Baker) and the head of the bank (John "The Mayor" Vernon).

One of the things about Siegel's films is that he loves to support the anti-hero. Dirty Harry, The Shootist, Escape From Alcatraz each contain a character that isn't the hero in the white hat, yet we sure as hell cheer for them. Charley is no different. He's a robber, a manipulator, and he's willing to sacrifice people to achieve his goals. We still cheer for the guy until the bitter end.

Matthau is perfect as Charley, a sharp guy dumped into a situation beyond anything he could have imagined. He downplays the character in a cool and calm manner, even though there's a hint of being scared to death of what's out to get him. The remaining cast is also great, particularly Robinson as a dumb kid that's stereotyped in being the guns blazing proponent, never fully trusting Charley or anyone else for that matter. Joe Don Baker relishes his role as the cowboy hit man that slaps women around, then beds them as he rolls like a tornado toward his goal. And John Vernon is John Vernon, the greatest authority figure in 1970's cinema.

Even though some of the plot devices get silly (and dull what would have been a perfect film) Charley Varrick is a thriller that doesn't feel like a thriller; a action piece that doesn't feel like an action piece. It's there to be consumed with no definable genre other than cops and robbers and goons and hoods. This is one of those great 1970's films that have been buried to posterity.
Super Reviewer
May 17, 2009
an intelligent 70's heist film by don siegel with walter matthau in the eastwood role. sounds odd but it works really well. charley varrick is a cropduster and sometime bank robber whose gang mistakenly robs a small town bank full of mob money, bringing down the heat in the form of a really vicious hitman played by joe don baker. full of twists and turns and odd touches in a nice new mexico setting; this film is alot of fun. also qt robbed a line here for pulp fiction...something about a pair of pliers and a blow torch ;)
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2007
Walter Matthau is amazing in this crop dusting heist film
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2012
From a technical standpoint, "Charley Varrick" is pretty laughable. There are moments where the editing is so bad that you just have to wonder what was going on in the editing room. As well, the cinematography, shot composition, and lighting seem to have been given minor attention from director Don Siegel. Of course, being as "Charley Varrick" is one of those low-budget relics from the 1970s, one can't be so critical about the technicalities. There are elements about the film that are quite enjoyable, such as Walter Matthau's deadpan-like performance and Joe Don Baker's turn as an eccentric assassin. The script is riddled with holes and implausibilities, but all in all, it's a fun, if forgettable, action flick.
Super Reviewer
½ September 16, 2008
A slick and pretty cool 70s heist / coup thriller featuring the always great Walter Matthau. I would not be surprised at all if this film is high on Tarantino's list of favourite films. It is pretty pulp, quirky and just downright fashionable. Yet, there are a few flaws in the film. The cast, apart from the lead is very weak and it lacks any interesting antagonist or sidekick characters and therefore, Matthau has to carry much of this himself, with his dead-pan humour and leftfield approach to acting, but that does cut it I think. A lot of the film's appeal for me, comes from the 70s style of filmmaking, the colours, the clothes, the locations, the nudity etc. Then again, I am not sure whether this is a sign of the film maker's merit or just the era and genre that I like in general. The films ends with so many twists, it could be a documentary on knot-making but throughout the film, despite hints of something deeper going on, there are not a lot of surprises and interesting things going on.

All in all, a solid b-movie for lovers of classic pulp and the 1970s, but as a film, it is kind of one-dimensional but a great outing for the amazing and loveable Walter Matthau.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2008
Seeing Mathau in a serious role is actually kind of funny in itself. But once you get used to it, this is actually a pretty clever ("Really? 'clever'?" Yah, I don't know why I'm using that word, maybe it's just that clever people are in it) flick.
Although, Joe Don Baker and his character are worth the watch regardless of the rest of the film, just to see this dude, who sort of acts like a creation of the Coens.
June 27, 2013
I think this film influenced the Coen brothers. Molly (Joe Don Baker), the charater can be seen in BLOOD SIMPLE as Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) and in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN as Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), and even some plot points are similar.
March 17, 2013
An intelligent crime thriller starring Walter Matthau in an unusual dramatic role. Despite some plot contrivances, it's quite engaging and keeps you on the edge of the seat. There's something about the 70's movies... they just don't make movies like that anymore.
½ October 31, 2012
Charley Varrick is a hidden gem from the 70s that has some clever plot turns that I enjoyed quite a bit.
April 30, 2012
Decent little character-driven thriller from the early '70s with good performances from Matthau and Baker as the hunted and the hunter. Also fun if you like Stone-Age portrayals of women. Baker will remind some of Chigurh from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and one good line was swiped outright for PULP FICTION. If you like '70s pulp crime like NIGHT MOVES, LONG GOODBYE, CISCO PIKE, DIRTY HARRY, etc., check it out.
December 3, 2011
really good pulpy heist movie. joe don baker is hilariously sadistic. 70s cliches abounds. this is totally fun. i'm sure i wouldn't have watched this on my own. thanks for the recommendation, ben!
½ June 8, 2011
Oh what a clever thriller. Some really memorable scenes. Much better than equivalent material produced today.
½ December 26, 2009
This is when movies were cool! Cops and robbers in an early 70's New Mexico. Big cars, sideburns, Mafia doublecrosses.
August 24, 2009
This is Walter Matthau in his prime and at his dramatic best. The usually comedic Matthau convincingly pulls off the Eastwood-ish leading man part in this Don Siegel heist classic. Matthau plays Charley Varrick, a crop dusting pilot turned small time bank robber. Things go south real quick for Varrick and his gang when they unexpectedly take alot more money than they planned on. The money turns out to be unlaundered mob money being funneled through the tiny desert bank that leads to the deaths of many around Varrick including his wife & untrusting overanxious partner. John Vernon plays Boyle, the mob banker sent in to investigate and Joe Don Baker is excellent as Molly, a well dressed southern hitman hot on Varrick's trail. One of the things Matthau brings to the character of Charley Varrick that makes him so appealing is his resourcefulness. The guy is always one step ahead of the cops and the crooks. This is one of my favorite Walter Matthau films and I would love for it one day to get the digitally remastered special edition treatment on Dvd. Look for William Schallert who played Matthau's milquetoast deputy in "Lonely Are The Brave"hamming it up with a promotion to typical 70's sheriff in this film.
½ August 17, 2009
Roku box strong recommendation. Tight story, great cinematography of New Mexico landscapes, and that 70's feeling. Joe Don Baker is so nasty here!
June 9, 2009
Yes! Charley Varrick, a perfect movie, is a smart clockwork-tight thriller and a forebearer of other perfect movies. Walter Mathau plays a retired stunt pilot turned crop duster (The Last of the Independents) who decides robbing banks would be more exciting than spraying yams. He gets on the wrong side of the mob, who sends evil badass Joe Don Baker to reclaim money that Varrick has stolen.

That sounds routine, but talent here molds the routine into something rich and exciting. This is a great movie that commands your attention to the smallest details and rewards that attention. This is Charley Varrick.
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