Charley Varrick (1973)

PG | 111 mins | Drama | October 1973

Director:

Don Siegel

Producer:

Don Siegel

Cinematographer:

Michael Butler

Editor:

Frank Morriss

Production Designer:

Fernando Carrere

Production Companies:

Siegel Films, Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

The film's working titles were The Looters and The Last of the Independents , the latter was a phrase used to describe "Charley Varrick" within the film. In the opening credits, the film's title is represented as a shot of "Charley Varrick's" name in flames, as his crop-dusting uniform burns. The image is repeated as the film's final shot.
       During the scene in which "Molly" introduces himself to "Jewell Everett," she states, "I didn't figure you for Clint Eastwood," a reference to the star of director Don Siegel's previous four films, including the 1971 box office hit Dirty Harry (see below). Siegel appears briefly in Charley Varrick as "Murph," a losing ping-pong player. Mustang Ranch owner Joe Conforte also appears briefly as himself.
       In Feb 1969, a NYT article announced that Peter Bogdanovich would produce and direct the adaptation of John Reese’s novel The Looters for CBS’s Cinema Center Films. In Apr 1969, as noted in a HR news item, he signed Al Bezzerides to write the screenplay. According to a Dec 1972 LAT article, prior to producer Walter Wanger’s death in late 1968, Siegel had originally been approached to direct the adaptation, but recommended Bogdanovich to Wanger. After Wanger died and the production stalled, Siegel received support from Bogdanovich to take over the project. Although an Aug 1971 HR news item stated that Lester M. Goldsmith had acquired the novel for his production company, no additional information about that project has been located.
       According to contemporary sources, Charley Varrick was shot in Nevada, primiarily in Minden, Reno and Sparks. ... More Less

The film's working titles were The Looters and The Last of the Independents , the latter was a phrase used to describe "Charley Varrick" within the film. In the opening credits, the film's title is represented as a shot of "Charley Varrick's" name in flames, as his crop-dusting uniform burns. The image is repeated as the film's final shot.
       During the scene in which "Molly" introduces himself to "Jewell Everett," she states, "I didn't figure you for Clint Eastwood," a reference to the star of director Don Siegel's previous four films, including the 1971 box office hit Dirty Harry (see below). Siegel appears briefly in Charley Varrick as "Murph," a losing ping-pong player. Mustang Ranch owner Joe Conforte also appears briefly as himself.
       In Feb 1969, a NYT article announced that Peter Bogdanovich would produce and direct the adaptation of John Reese’s novel The Looters for CBS’s Cinema Center Films. In Apr 1969, as noted in a HR news item, he signed Al Bezzerides to write the screenplay. According to a Dec 1972 LAT article, prior to producer Walter Wanger’s death in late 1968, Siegel had originally been approached to direct the adaptation, but recommended Bogdanovich to Wanger. After Wanger died and the production stalled, Siegel received support from Bogdanovich to take over the project. Although an Aug 1971 HR news item stated that Lester M. Goldsmith had acquired the novel for his production company, no additional information about that project has been located.
       According to contemporary sources, Charley Varrick was shot in Nevada, primiarily in Minden, Reno and Sparks. It marked the last feature film appearance of veteran character actor Tom Tully (1908—1982). A modern source adds Carol Daniels to the cast.
       In Oct 1972, a DV article reported that the operator of the salvage yard seen in the last scenes of the film was suing Universal for $75,000 in damages to his property. According to the article, unit production manager Richard McWhorter, who was listed as associate producer in the HR production charts, was fired from the production for negotiating the contract incorrectly. McWhorter is credited onscreen, however, and the resolution of the suit has not been determined. As noted by many critics, Charley marked a noteworthy dramatic role in Walter Matthau’s primarily comedic career. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Oct 1973
p. 4629.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1972.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1972.
---
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1973.
---
Filmfacts
1973.
pp. 19-22.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1972
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1972
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1973
p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Times
10 Dec 1972
p. 1, 34.
Los Angeles Times
19 Oct 1973.
---
New York Times
2 Feb 1969.
---
New York Times
20 Oct 1973
p. 27.
Newsweek
12 Nov 1973.
---
Time
5 Nov 1973.
---
Variety
10 Oct 1973
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles & optical eff
MAKEUP
Cosmetics
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dial coach
Unit prod mgr
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Flying seq
Stunt double for store proprietor
Stunt double for Indian girl
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunt double
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Looters by John Reese (New York, 1968).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"You Can Make a Memory Out of Me," words and music by Lalo Schifrin and Paul Vance.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Last of the Independents
The Looters
Release Date:
October 1973
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 19 October 1973
Production Date:
23 August--mid October 1972 in Nevada
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
5 October 1973
Copyright Number:
LP43604
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
111
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Nevada, Charley Varrick, tired of struggling to make an honest living as a crop duster, pulls off a series of robberies of small, local banks. By stealing only minor amounts of money, he hopes to avoid detection. At the Tres Cruces bank outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, Charley, disguised as an elderly man in a leg cast, and his wife Nadine park outside, while accomplices Al Dutcher and hotheaded Harman Sullivan await inside the bank, wearing masks. Nadine deflects the attention of a policeman passing by, but after driving away, the officer calls his station to check her license plate number. Once inside, Charley and his crew announce they are robbing the bank and force bank manager Howard Young to open the safe. Meanwhile, the officer discovers that Nadine’s car is stolen and returns to the bank. He and his partner approach Nadine, who shoots them both, while inside a frail guard mortally wounds Al, then is killed by Sullivan. Charley and Sullivan hop into Nadine’s car with two bags of money, chased by Sheriff Bill Horton and several police cars, which Nadine diverts by driving straight into them, causing them to crash. Horton returns to the bank, where one of the wounded policeman has died, and vowing to track down the perpetrators, calls in District Attorney Garfinkle. On the road, Nadine soon pulls over, revealing that she has been shot, and Charley promises to get her to help quickly. Removing his disguise, he drives to his crop-dusting van, which has been hidden in foothills. There, Charley and Sullivan stash the money bags in canisters, don uniforms and prepare the car for remote detonation. When Nadine then dies, Charley ... +


In Nevada, Charley Varrick, tired of struggling to make an honest living as a crop duster, pulls off a series of robberies of small, local banks. By stealing only minor amounts of money, he hopes to avoid detection. At the Tres Cruces bank outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, Charley, disguised as an elderly man in a leg cast, and his wife Nadine park outside, while accomplices Al Dutcher and hotheaded Harman Sullivan await inside the bank, wearing masks. Nadine deflects the attention of a policeman passing by, but after driving away, the officer calls his station to check her license plate number. Once inside, Charley and his crew announce they are robbing the bank and force bank manager Howard Young to open the safe. Meanwhile, the officer discovers that Nadine’s car is stolen and returns to the bank. He and his partner approach Nadine, who shoots them both, while inside a frail guard mortally wounds Al, then is killed by Sullivan. Charley and Sullivan hop into Nadine’s car with two bags of money, chased by Sheriff Bill Horton and several police cars, which Nadine diverts by driving straight into them, causing them to crash. Horton returns to the bank, where one of the wounded policeman has died, and vowing to track down the perpetrators, calls in District Attorney Garfinkle. On the road, Nadine soon pulls over, revealing that she has been shot, and Charley promises to get her to help quickly. Removing his disguise, he drives to his crop-dusting van, which has been hidden in foothills. There, Charley and Sullivan stash the money bags in canisters, don uniforms and prepare the car for remote detonation. When Nadine then dies, Charley places her wedding ring on his own finger before leaving her body in the car. He drives off with Sullivan, describing his first meeting with Nadine while working as a stunt-flier in the circus, after which they married and started a crop-dusting business. Soon after, a policeman pulls them over, and after counseling Sullivan to stay calm, Charley presents his legitimate business license. The policeman insists on checking the canisters, but before Sullivan can shoot him, the car explodes in the distance, prompting the policeman to race off to investigate. Charley drops the guns in the river and returns to his trailer-park home. He is quietly mourning Nadine when Sullivan ecstatically informs him that the bags, instead of containing the expected $1-2,000, contain closer to $750,000. Charley’s horrified intuition that the money must be Mafia-related is validated by a radio report that less than $2,000 was stolen. Knowing that whoever was hiding the money, presumably for laundering overseas, will hound the thieves until death, Charley warns Sullivan to lay low for three to four years. The younger man refuses, however, threatening Charley, who calmly concedes to his bullying. Meanwhile, as Charley has suspected, bank president Maynard Boyle, who is in league with the Mafia, hires a vicious thug in a cowboy hat named Mr. Molly to identify and track down the robbers. Molly receives his orders from Honest John, who tips off Molly to a car that can be repossessed. Molly beats up the debtor, Randolph Percy, in front of his young son, then drives the car to Nevada. That night, while encouraging Sullivan to drink, Charley learns from a news report that a body was discovered inside the detonated car, and that the police have erected roadblocks throughout the state. Sullivan demands that Charley fly them out of state, and Charley agrees to outfit his crop-dusting plane. First, he breaks into their dentist’s office in order to destroy Nadine’s records, thus rendering her remains unidentifiable. After removing her records, he switches his own with Sullivan’s. At the same time, Molly arrives at the Mustang Ranch brothel, where the madam has reserved a room for him in which to sleep. Although she also presents him with a girl, he roughly rejects her as a “whore.” In the morning, a hung-over Sullivan finds Charley and the money gone, but receives a phone call from Charley, who assures him that the money is safe. To procure them passports, Charley visits Tom, a handicapped ex-con, for information about a passport photographer. After Charley mentions to Tom that he might need to fence a large amount of money, the ex-con secretly informs Honest John. Tom has given Charley the address of Jewell Everett, a shady photographer who charges an exorbitant fee. Meanwhile, Boyle visits Young and, explaining that they are both under suspicion, advises him to flee, prompting the terrified man to shoot himself soon afterward. Molly, tipped off by Honest John, calls on Tom, who demands money for information about Charley, but is easily overpowered by the hit man. Molly then gets Charley’s address from Jewell, but upon storming the mobile home, finds only Sullivan, whom he tortures for information about the robbery. When Molly leaves, Charley, who has been hiding in reeds, enters and finds Sullivan’s dead body. Meanwhile, Molly returns to Jewell to wait for Charley, who is supposed to return at midnight to pick up the passports. Horton and Garfinkle, working together, realize that Al and Sullivan must have arrived at the bank in another car, and finally locate it nearby, with information inside that leads them to the trailer park address. In the morning, the police surround the trailer, but find it empty. Charley first buys dynamite, then calls Boyle’s office and learns the name of his secretary, Sybil Fort. Flying his plane to Reno, he follows Sybil home, where he bursts in and demands to talk to Boyle. She locates Boyle at a bar, where he is waiting with Molly, and Charley informs him over the phone that he will return the money. After they confirm plans to meet in the early morning at an automobile junkyard, Sybil warns Charley not to trust Boyle, and the two fall into bed together. As the sun rises, Charley flies his crop-duster into the field, where Boyle stands waiting while Molly hides in his car. Assuming that Molly is watching and may suspect Boyle’s involvement in the robbery, Charley hugs Boyle and tousles his hair familiarly. Molly, taking the bait, speeds by in the car, running over Boyle as Charley jumps into the plane. Taxing the plane, Charley leads Molly on a chase, and when Molly’s car is directly behind him, purposely flips the plane and hangs upside-down from the cockpit. Thinking that Charley is trapped, Molly promises to let him live in exchange for the money. Charley gives him the keys to a nearby car, and when Molly opens the trunk, he spots Sullivan’s body inside just before the car explodes, killing him. Charley easily maneuvers out of the plane, grabs the bags of money, tosses some cash and his crop-dusting uniform into the flames of the car fire, then drives off in another car, knowing that Sullivan’s remains will be identified as his own. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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