Charley Varrick (1973)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Action Thriller, Chase Movie  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Genre veteran Don Siegel made one of his more subversive choices when he cast the hangdog Walter Matthau as the cunning title character in 1973's caper flick Charley Varrick. It's almost as if Siegel were trying to deflate the type of mythic hero that he previously helped create in Dirty Harry, poking fun at the creation by presenting its slovenly alter ego. Audiences may have balked at Matthau as a captivating crook, but his sarcastic, laconic presence works well within the well-trod realm of action pictures: he doesn't have to work hard to be funny here; his mere presence gives the movie a lightness and vitality. Ultimately, Siegel uses Matthau to much the same effect as Robert Altman did with Elliott Gould in another great crime picture of 1973, The Long Goodbye: the sly, easygoing, benevolent nature of the lead performer makes the film's seemingly out-of-character violence all the more riveting.