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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Charley Varrick [Blu-ray]
(Don Siegel, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures
Video:Koch Media / Indicator (Powerhouse) / Kino Lorber
Region: 'B'/ 'B' / 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:50:32.876 / 1:50:35.837 / 1:51:03.490
46,678,602,467 bytes / 46,807,459,498 bytes / 48,871,367,990 bytes
31,345,551,360 bytes / 32,835,804,096 bytes / 31,337,379,840 bytes
Video Bitrate: 32.54 Mbps / 35.02 Mbps / 33.93 Mbps
Chapters: 16 / 12 / 9
Case: Standard case / Transparentcase / Standard BD Case
March 19th, 2015 / January 22nd, 2018 / November 12th, 2019
Video (all three):
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)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
The Guardian Lectures:
Master Audio English 1554 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1554 kbps /
16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
German, none / English (SDH), none / English, none
• Last of the Independents: Don Siegel and The Making of
Charley Varrick (1:12:14)
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
Personae: An examination of Don Siegel’s signature directorial style and key
thematic elements in his later masterpiece, CHARLEY VARRICK by Film Historian
Howard S. Berger (35:14)
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
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.
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.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Anexcellent 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.
The Kino is described as being from a "Brand New 4K Master!" It is unusually different in terms of the video. Comparing to the Indicator, it seems less-sharp and has even warmer skin tones, plus there is a slight ratio discrepancy between the others. I can't say which is correct but I do think the Indicator looks the best of the three. The Kino is consistent and on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray captures
Kochuse 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. 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.
Kino use their usual DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track (16-bit.) It is in the original English and still supports the film well, if a notch below the Indicator in terms of depth - notable in the effects and Lalo Schifrin score (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.) Kino add optional English subtitles on their Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.
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.
Kino offer a new audio commentary by film Historian Toby Roan who immediately announces that Charley Varrick is one of his favorite films. He talks about the locational shooting in Genoa, and Dayton, Nevada. We usually associate Toby with westerns - but here he is certainly well prepared, knows his stuff and I enjoy hearing his insights. A valuable addition. What I also really enjoyed was the 35-minute visual essay entitled "Refracted Personae" by Film Historian Howard S. Berger. It is an examination of Don Siegel’s signature directorial style and key thematic elements (ex. abstracts, identity, symbolic associations, transformations, and dehumanizations) in his later masterpiece, Charley Varrick. He identifies many scenes with visual cues supporting these style elements. It's a fabulous extra - one of the best visual essays I've seen in years. Also included is the same Fiction Factory 1 1/4 hour documentary "Last of the Independents: The Making of Charley Varrick" found on the Indicator and Koch – featuring interviews with Kristoffer Tabori (Siegel’s son), actors Andy Robinson and Jacqueline Scott, stunt driver and actor Craig R. Baxley, composer Lalo Schifrin, and Howard A. Rodman (son of screenwriter, Howard Rodman). The "Trailers From Hell" video piece with Josh Olson and Howard Rodman is also repeated. There is a trailer for the film (and others films) and two TV Spots. The package has a limited Edition booklet Essay by Film Critic Nick Pinkerton.
Koch Media (DE) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Indicator (UK) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Kino Lorber- Region 'A' - Blu-ray
With superiority in a/v and extensive extras the Indicator is the definitive home theatre Blu-ray edition of the film. It gets better each time I watch it - strongly recommended!
Kino's addition of the the Roan commentary and Howard S. Berger visual essay make it worth the indulgence. While the a/v transfer would go to Indicator, some of the film's cult following will want these valuable and impressive new supplements. Each time I watch Charley Varrick, it seems to get better and I see more in it. Don Siegel was one of the greats and fabulous to have his work looked at with new interesting perspectives decades later.
May 21st, 2015
January 25th, 2018
April 4th, 2020