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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Charley Varrick [Blu-ray]

 

(Don Siegel, 1973)

 

 

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Koch Media / Indicator (Powerhouse)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:50:32.876 / 1:50:35.837

Disc Size: 46,678,602,467 bytes / 46,807,459,498 bytes

Feature Size: 31,345,551,360 bytes / 32,835,804,096 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.54 Mbps / 35.02 Mbps

Chapters: 16 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 19th, 2015 / January 22nd, 2018

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

DUB:

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)

 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

The Guardian Lectures:
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

German, none / English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and The Making of Charley Varrick (1:12:14)
• Super 8 excerpt footage (16:53)
• Trailers (German and English - 2:21)
• Photo Gallery

 

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 (1:15:19)
The Guardian Lecture with Don Siegel (1973): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Sloman at London's National Film Theatre (1:14:00)
The Guardian Lecture with Walther Matthau (1988): archival audio recording of an interview at London's National Film Theatre (1:28:43)
Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation (17:34)
Original theatrical trailer (2:23) with Trailers From Hell commentary (5:46)
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

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

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.

***

Charley Varrick (Walter Matthau) is a former stunt-pilot who makes his living robbing small banks in the American Southwest. His latest heist sees him unwittingly steal from the local mafia, setting a psychotic hit-man on his trail and unleashing a maelstrom of violence and destruction.

Directed by the great Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dirty Harry), Charley Varrick is one of the best thrillers of the 70s: action-packed, memorably lurid and gleefully unsentimental.

 

 

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.

 

Short story is that the Indicator has slightly warmer skin tones and a shade less gloss - but most systems would show very little difference between the two Blu-ray images. The Indicator has a high bitrate and may also be marginally better in-motion. If forced to choose - the Indicator wins.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Indicator wins with a linear PCM track - in 24-bit and advances in depth (helicopter etc.) as well as in the Lalo Schifrin score. The Indicator has optional English (SDH) subtitles and their Blu-ray disc is also Region 'B' but limited to 3,000 copies.

 

 

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!

 

Indicator duplicate the 2005 Fiction Factory's 1 1/4 hour documentary Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and The Making of Charley Varrick also found on the Koch Media but add an 1 1/4 hour Guardian Lecture with Don Siegel (1973): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Tony Sloman at London's National Film Theatre that plays to the film and a second Guardian Lecture with Walther Matthau (1988): archival audio recording of an interview at London's National Film Theatre running 1.5 hours. The latter is especially appealing to fans of the actor. We get another (but slightly longer) Super 8 version - original cut-down home cinema presentation of the film, an original theatrical trailer with the optional of a Trailers From Hell commentary and there is an image gallery: on-set and promotional photography. The indicator has a 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.

 

Koch Media (DE)  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Indicator  (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
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!

 

With superiority in a/v and extensive extras the Indicator is the definitive home theater Blu-ray edition of the film. It gets better each time I watch it - strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 21st, 2015

January 25th, 2018

 

 

  




 

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