Friday, May 12, 2023


A CrimeReads essay, "7 Criminally Under-Rated Heist Films That Deserve Another Watch," includes Charley Varrick (1973), a film I have appreciated for a long time:
When it comes to Walter Matthau, most people remember him for his collaborations with Jack Lemmon in fan favorites like The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men or as the drunk little league coach in Bad News Bears. For me, I always associate him with two heist movies, the first being the excellent The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. The second is the vastly unappreciated Charley Varrick, where Matthau plays the title character, a down on his luck crop duster who tries robbing a small town bank. The film opens on the heist, which is technically a success since they get away with $750k, though two members of the crew end up getting shot and killed, one of them being Charley’s wife. To make matters worse, the money stolen is from a mob bank, meaning hard prison time is best-case-scenario, as the Mafia will stop at nothing to kill the people who ripped them off. The film is gritty and tense with plenty of surprises, and features one of Matthau’s most dramatic performances, showcasing how versatile an actor he really was.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three referred to above came out in 1974, also starring Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and Jerry Stiller, among others. It is eminently re-watchable and, in my opinion, much better than the 2009 re-make. Charley Varrick also stars Joe Don Baker, Andy Robinson (if you've seen Dirty Harry, you'll recognize him), Norman Fell, and John Vernon.

Tyler Schwanke, "7 Criminally Under-Rated Heist Films That Deserve Another Watch," CrimeReads, May 12, 2023.

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