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WALTER MATTHAU STEPS UP FOR DON SIEGEL'S 'CHARLEY VARRICK'

Title: Charley Varrick Year: 1973 Rates: ****1/2

Ironically the opening credits stating A SIEGEL FILM appears beneath a full moon in an otherwise bright-lit/daytime Neo Noir, referring to director Don Siegel, best known for DIRTY HARRY and before that a string of actual Noirs followed by action flicks and a classic sci-fi...

Yet CHARLEY VARRICK is his best work, and a chance for Walter Matthau to stretch beyond comedy while keeping his usual glib persona, mixed with a calloused experience needed as a bi-plane stunt flyer turned crop duster turned one-time bank robber with tightly-wound partner Andy Robinson and getaway driving wife Jacqueline Scott, whose minimal screen-time provides a genuinely violent half to this middle-age Bonnie & Clyde... soon narrowed into just Matthau and young brash Vietnam vet Robinson, winding up with mob cash... So crooked banker John Vernon hires deadly tracker-assassin Joe Don Banker... 

The contrasting villains each going from place to place in the rural west to find and KILL CHARLEY VARRICK (the British title), who's also hopping around, keeping one step ahead in a cat-and-mouse thriller also starring Woodrow Parfrey as the spooked blagged-bank manager; William Schallert the vengeful local sheriff; old man Tom Tully connecting Varrick with sexy passport forging Sheree North; John Vernon's classy moll Felicia Farr; and hooker Christina Hart annoying Joe Don Baker's Molly, put up in a cat house... and other than his palpably nightmarish/unstoppable human ox it's Andy Robinson that shines without overacting like his DIRTY HARRY Scorpio, keeping the title character and audience on edge... Fully rapt in this smart and intriguing, cold-blooded page-turner of an underrated gem that obviously inspired Quentin Tarantino's greatest film, the equally underappreciated cerebral caper JACKIE BROWN.

Local hottie in KILL CHARLEY VARRICK
Local hottie in KILL CHARLEY VARRICK
Jacqueline Scott and Walter Matthau in CHARLEY VARRICK
Walter Matthau in CHARLEY VARRICK
Andy Robinson in CHARLEY VARRICK
Christina Hart as a whore where Joe Don Baker stays in the whore house in Charlie Varrick
Christina Hart talks smack/back to Joe Don Baker in CHARLIE VARRICK
Christina Hart talks smack/back to Joe Don Baker in CHARLIE VARRICK
John Vernon as a business-minded mobster in CHARLIE VARRICK
Walter Matthau in CHARLIE VARRICK
Felicia Farr (Jack Lemmon's wife) in CHARLIE VARRICK
Sheree North pictures CHARLEY VARRICK
Sheree North with Walter Matthau in CHARLEY VARRICK
Top half poster for Britain's much better titled KILL CHARLEY VARRICK
Local hottie from KILL CHARLEY VARRICK by Don Siegel
Don Siegel directs the thriller-with-action CHARLEY VARRICK
Don Siegel directs the thriller-with-action CHARLEY VARRICK
Car vs Stunt plane chase from CHARLEY VARRICK
Car vs Stunt plane chase from CHARLEY VARRICK
Joe Don Baker is Molly in Don Siegel's CHARLEY VARRICK
Don Siegel's underrated CHARLEY VARRICK
Don Siegel's underrated CHARLEY VARRICK

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