Combustible Celluloid
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With: Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Felicia Farr, Andrew Robinson, Sheree North, Norman Fell, Benson Fong, Woodrow Parfrey, William Schallert, Jacqueline Scott, Marjorie Bennett, Rudy Diaz, Colby Chester, Charlie Briggs, Priscilla Garcia, Scott Hale, Charles Matthau, Hope Summers, Monica Lewis, James Nolan, Tom Tully, Albert Popwell, Kathleen O'Malley, Christina Hart, Craig R. Baxley, Al Dunlap, Virginia Wing, Don Siegel, John Vernon
Written by: Howard Rodman, Dean Riesner, based on a novel by John Reese
Directed by: Don Siegel
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 111
Date: 09/19/1973

Charley Varrick (1973)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Pilot Episodes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Don Siegel's excellent heist/escape movie makes an interesting juxtaposition to his Clint Eastwood films. Walter Matthau's crafty, cunning hero uses his physical presence to disarm his opponents, rather than intimidate them, all the while remaining several jumps ahead of everyone. Matthau plays the title hero, a former stunt pilot and current crop duster, who robs a small town bank, hoping for a modest score and low profile. Unfortunately, he unexpectedly winds up with a huge pile of mob money, which had been stashed at the same bank. It's fascinating to watch as he keeps a cool head, taking all manner of precautions and risks in order to get himself to safety. Joe Don Baker plays "Molly," a very low-key, very scary hitman on Varrick's trail, and John Vernon plays the banker who, thanks to Varrick, appears to have betrayed the mob. Quentin Tarantino borrowed a line of dialogue, about a "pair of pliers and a blowtorch," for Pulp Fiction.

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