An above average crime drama from Don Siegel makes its way to Blu Ray for the first time thanks to Indicator. Charley Varrick (Walter Matthau) is a pilot, working a front. He plans and executes small scale robberies with his wife, Al (Fred Scheiwiller) and Harman (Andrew Robinson). The gang rob a small bank but while Nadine is waiting outside in the getaway car, a police officer recognises the license as that belonging to a stolen vehicle. In the scuffle he is shot and all hell breaks lose.
Walter Matthau is better known for his comedic work than his more darker edge stuff, in film circles. The Odd Couple and The Fortune Cookie are two big films that reflect this. Both are commentary films but both are also remembered as comedies. Matthau was a very good actor and versatile enough to develop a range of film performances. Here he gives us a wonderful measured role. Not rare in his work but one that redefines the audience that his work attracted. Charley Varrick is a man that is caught inside a scheme that is of his own making but is rapidly running out of control. He adds both a hardened edge to his performance, with a tender tone which reveals a weaker note. This is rewarding and that is very powerful. He won a BAFTA for the role and it is a rare example of awards justifying their existence. This film also works within Don Siegel’s canon of work. A big, punching series of dark films about human nature and villainy. It is tough, frankly played with layers of hardness which Siegel is known for. The film flows richly with his cynicism at the world and I would say that if you liked that or violence and cross, double cross this is it.
The Blu Ray is packed with great extras. The master is nice enough but only a step above the DVD release. The documentary Last of the Independents is excellent. It shows a time when film was bold and sort to challenge. The Siegel lecture is worth watching as is the Matthau version. Combs booklet is the other very worthy thing here.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Limited edition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and the Making of ‘Charley Varrick’ (2015, 72 mins): a feature-length documentary on the making of the film
- The Guardian Lecture with Don Siegel (1973, tbc mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Sloman at London’s National Film Theatre
- The Guardian Lecture with Walther Matthau (1988, tbc mins): archival audio recording of an interview at London’s National Film Theatre
- Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by author and critic Richard Combs, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited Edition of 3,000 copies