Charley Varrick (aka The Last of the Independents and Kill Charley Varrick) is a 1973 American neo noir crime film directed by Don Siegel and starring Walter Matthau, Andrew Robinson, Joe Don Baker and John Vernon. The film was based on the novel The Looters by John H. Reese.
The film marked the beginning of Matthau’s “serious” period in which the comic actor appeared in four consecutive motion pictures that were not comedies.
In this compact, fast-paced action thriller, a bank robber really messes up when he and his gang accidentally knock over a Mafia-controlled New Mexico bank. As a result, they must figure out a way to not only evade the police but the mob as well.
Charley Varrick is a crop-duster and former stunt pilot. Charley, his wife Nadine, longtime accomplice Al Dutcher, and youngster Harman Sullivan, rob a bank in the rural community of Tres Cruces, New Mexico. While Nadine waits in the getaway car, the heavily disguised Charley and his two accomplices draw their guns and begin the heist. A police officer passing by recognizes the getaway car. When the officers approach Nadine, she shoots at them, killing one instantly and seriously wounding the other, but the second officer returns fire, wounding her. The melee outside distracts the robbers, enabling the bank guard to kill Dutcher. Sensing that the bank manager is concealing something, Charley forces him to reveal two large satchels of cash.
Charley, Harman, and Nadine flee, but Nadine dies soon thereafter. Charley and Harman swap vehicles and prepare to blow up the getaway car, with Nadine’s body inside. They are stopped by another police officer, but before he can search their van, the explosion goes off and the officer races away.
When they count the money, it totals $765,118 – much more than expected. After a local news broadcast reports that only $2,000 was stolen, Charley says the bank must be involved in a money-laundering operation. He warns Harman that the Mafia will pursue them relentlessly and that their only chance of surviving is by laying low and not spending the money for three or four years; but Harman insists that he should be free to spend his share on women and good times. Meanwhile, Maynard Boyle, president of the bank, dispatches tall, burly, and sadistic hitman Molly to recover the money.