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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Charley Varrick [Blu-ray]


(Don Siegel, 1973)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Koch Media



Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:50:32.876

Disc Size: 46,678,602,467 bytes

Feature Size: 31,345,551,360 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.54 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 19th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1585 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1585 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)


DTS-HD Master Audio German 1571 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1571 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



German, none



• Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and The Making of Charley Varrick (1:12:14)
• Super8 excerpt footage (16:53)
• Trailers (German and English - 2:21)
• Photo Gallery





Description: Don Siegel directed this offbeat crime thriller which stars Walter Matthau as the titular Charley Varrick. Varrick is a small-time stick-up man who, in tandem with his partner Harman Sullivan (Andrew Robinson), makes plans to rob a small bank in New Mexico. Varrick and Sullivan are expecting a modest payday for a simple heist, but to their surprise they walk away with $750,000 in cash. But it turns out this isn't entirely good news; the bank was flush with cash because a number of well-connected Mafia chieftains have been using the bank to launder their ill-gotten gains, and they're determined to get their money back. Before Varrick can figure out a way to return the money, sadistic hired killer Molly (Joe Don Baker) is on his trail, forcing Varrick to outwit both the cops and the robbers if he is to stay alive.



The Film:

Marvellous, toughly eccentric thriller which confirmed that Siegel had more responses to '70s paranoia than a mere Magnum blast, and decisively removed Matthau from the wasteland of Neil Simon wit. Varrick, 'the last of the independents', unwittingly hits a Mafia payroll; staying alive means outwitting Molly (Baker), the Mafia's freak-killer hitman. The defensive odyssey is through sunlit noir territory, populated exclusively with cherishably individuated oddballs. Clever, but never cold.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

Matthau plays the title character, a small-time bank robber who mostly flies crop dusters for a living. When Charley and his partners, including Harman (Andrew Robinson), a wild-eyed, much younger man, rob a bank in the desert town of Tre Cruces, New Mexico, they end up with more than they bargained for: $750,000 in mob money. Charley is familiar enough with the territory to know that he's in major trouble if he keeps the cash, but Harman isn't about to fork it over. So a methodical and sadistic hit man named, of all things, Molly (Joe Don Baker, in chilling form), is dispatched to kill Charley and Harman.

A tense game of cat-and-mouse ensues, during which Charley reveals that he's got far more up his sleeve than his mob enemies might realize. A small-timer only in theory, he manages to stay several steps ahead of Molly, although hot-headed Harman keeps tripping things up. Siegel peppers this ingenious, character-driven narrative with several jolting action sequences, and the dialogue (by co-screenwriters Dean Riesner and Howard Rodman) is tinged with sardonic black humor.

Excerpt from TCM  located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

An excellent action-crime-drama from the 70's, Charley Varrick, looks great on Blu-ray from Koch Media in Germany.  The image quality is sharp with some nice depth and it looks very film-like without undue gloss. It is from a very clean source - no speckles or damage - and is transferred on a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate. I appreciated the depth and I would guess the 1.85:1 aspect ratio 1080P transfer is a strong replication of the theatrical appearance some 40-years hence. This Blu-ray provides a solid video presentation. Visually this gets high marks.



















Audio :

Koch use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1585 kbps in the original English language and a similarly robust German DUB option. There are plenty of effects in the film - car chases, airplanes, explosions etc. and they come through flat but with depth. The score is by Argentinean Lalo Schifrin (famous as the guy behind the Mission: Impossible theme as well as Day of the Animals, Hit!, Man on a Swing, Tango and many other films.) It all sounds excellent, crisp and even with clear dialogue and buoyancy in the effects. There are optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.



Extras :

We get a great supplement here on the Blu-ray: Fiction Factory's 1 1/4 hour documentary Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and The Making of Charley Varrick described HERE as "Don Siegel’s classic crime thriller CHARLEY VARRICK, made in 1972 in the wake of the immensely successful DIRTY HARRY, stars Walter Matthau in what is probably the actor’s finest dramatic role, airshow pilot turned crop duster turned bank robber turned mob target Charley Varrick. This feature-length documentary takes the viewer back to the time of the shooting of this cult item and features original interviews with Siegel’s son, Kristoffer Tabori, actors Andy Robinson and Jacqueline Scott, stunt driver and actor Craig R. Baxley, composer Lalo Schifrin, and Howard A. Rodman, whose father co-wrote the screenplay. LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS, directed by Robert Fischer, was shot in August 2014 in Los Angeles." There is also 15-minutes of Super8 excerpt footage, trailer in both English and German and a photo gallery. Excellent!



Charley Varrick is one of the greats from the 70's and I hadn't seen it in years. What a treat! I might even call it neo-noir with its ant-hero protagonist and thoroughly disreputable characters. What a cast - Walter Matthau , Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Sheree North, John Vernon etc. I think this was a fabulous choice for Koch to release on Blu-ray. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the film and the wonderful extra documentary buoyed my appreciation further. Excellent job by Koch and we can strongly recommend! 

Gary Tooze

May 21st, 2015




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze





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