Aero double bill on 3.6.08

An excellent early ’70s Walter Matthau double-bill at the Aero on Thursday, March 6thDon Siegel‘s Charley Varrick and Joseph Sargent‘s The Taking of Pelham 123.


original Pelham lobby poster

Every now and then I rouse myself and just drive over there and line up and buy a ticket to these shows because the Aero has very high-level sound and projection standards. On top of which these films looked gritty and run-down when they were new so there won’t be any of the disappointment I always find when I go to showings of newly struck or restored films at theatres like this — disappointing because they always look much better on a DVD or Blu-ray flat-screen presentation.

31 thoughts on “Aero double bill on 3.6.08

  1. I love Charley Varrick, which I discovered thanks to Jeff singing it’s praises from time to time. Reminds me of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and I love it’s very last scene in particular. Great Matthau performance, as always.

  2. MGM/UA (Pelham) and Universal (Varrick) should remaster these titles. The DVDs are non-anamorphic and full screen respectively.
    Damn, I wish I could be at the Aero for these babes.

  3. Pelham will get remastered in time for the Tony Scott/John Travolta/Denzel Washington remake; Varrick; you might as well ask for the moon on a stick.

  4. Watch ‘Pelham One Two Three’ again and you can
    see it was a major influence in Spike Lee’s
    “Inside Man”…where police have to cope with
    both cold-hearted crooks and NYC’s vast supply
    of multi-cultural, pissed-off, idiosyncratic
    characters.

  5. PELHAM has already been digitally remastered and broadcast on either HDNet or the MGM HD Channel, so half the work is done for a new DVD release.

  6. I origianlly saw Pelham 1,23 on a double feature with an unsung Report to the commissioner. Anyone remember that one with Micahel Moriarty? turned out to be a Hector Elizondo film festival!

  7. Speaking of 70′s double features in Los Angeles, the New Beverly is showing an Alan J. Pakula two-fer this coming Sun/Mon/Tue. Namely, The Parallax View and Klute. I saw the first like 20 years ago when I was in high school and barely remember it, and I’ve never seen the latter.
    Looking forward to them.

  8. First off I own an MGM DVD pressing of Pelham and it’s in Widescreen.
    Second off that double feature should have been a triple with a showing of The Laughing Policeman. Three great Matthau movies made in a row. ANd if Laughing Policeman isn’t your cup ‘o tea then they could have broken the Matthau lineup and show The Anderson Tapes instead tying in with the great Martin Balsam.
    Now I am sadden that Pelham is being remade. Denzel and Travolta. Why?! This movie is already great the way it is.
    I am a BIIIIGGG Fan of Varrick and Pelham. Matthau had that Bogie thing… Not handsome by a long mile, but cool none-the-less.

  9. Sometimes I will put on my PELHAM DVD and just let it sit on the menu to hear that awesome theme. I’d love a spiffy new version though as a tie-in to the remake. And yeah, the INSIDE MAN connection has often bene mentioned. IM is certainly our PELHAM, they’re both super solid 3.5 star genre pieces, though PELHAM feels like a classic to me. Makes the straight remake highly unnecessary.

  10. “Charley Varrick” gets right everything that “No Country” gets wrong; the touch is light where the Coens use a sledgehammer, where Siegel knows just how far to push the limits of the material, the Coens over-strive. In fairness, they’ve taken their “serious” author seriously, something Siegel didn’t have to worry about. Such are the ways great genre moviemaking happens.
    Someone please find the greatest review possible of this film and post here to try to convey the genius of Siegel’s unassuming little action masterpiece. I fear it’s probably only been properly been praised in French, but maybe someone knows a smart English-language lionization that might capture some of its wit and razor-sharp storytelling, the joys of Matthau, Joe Don Baker, Andrew Robinson, Sheree North, John Vernon and the irreplaceable Woodrow Parfrey.
    Charley Varrick: I like your bed. You may find this hard to believe but I’ve never slept on a round bed.
    Sybil Fort: Is that so?
    Charley Varrick: What’s the best way? North, south, east, or west?
    Sybil Fort: That depends on what you had in mind.
    Charley Varrick: What I had in mind was boxing the compass.

  11. Funny. I managed a video store fifteen years ago and took these two home and watched them as a double feature one night. Good shit … or shits, as the case may be.

  12. Burma: Two cat n’ mouse, action n’ character-driven stories set in the SouthWest, in which an unstoppable force of doom tracks a plucky everyman whose wits, demonstrated by swiss watch moves, changes of identity, near-misses, keep him a step ahead of his fate throughout the film, as we see doom, operating in the alternately dingy and majestic desert region atmosphere, lower the boom on everyone else less he’s going after.
    You’re right. An absurd comparison.
    How about this? You liked both the films fully and I thought one was interesting but ultimately overblown and failed to struggle out from under its pretensions and the other a mighty fine character-study and subversion of genre in the hands of an American master.
    Can we just respectfully disagree and leave it at that?

  13. “Matthau had that Bogie thing… Not handsome by a long mile, but cool none-the-less.” Matthau always complained that he should have played the Cary Grant part in Charade.

  14. Don Siegel is the opposite of the Coen brothers. Siegel is natue the Coens are plastic (and I mean in a good way). Siegel is raw chaos, the Coens controlled hysteria. And so on.

  15. Christian, Burmashave: I like the train of thought you’ve launched. And I don’t mean to dismiss the Coens in order to elevate Mr. Siegel. Examining their different strengths and weaknesses as filmmakers is a worthwhile exercise. Anyone know how much Siegel in on Criterion? Dirty Harry, Beguiled, Charley Varrick, The Shootist all deserve that distinction.

  16. I bet Tarantino is also a big Charly Varrick fan.
    “I’m gonna go to work on him with a blow torch and a pair of pliers”

  17. Christian: Wow, “Killers” on Criterion. Cool. But it looks like that’s it for Siegel.
    I vote for the Siegelini Box on Criterion: “Dirty Harry,” “Charley Varrick,” “The Killers,” “Beguiled,” “The Shootist.”
    I guess the next five would be “Escape from Alcatraz,” “The Lineup,” “Coogan’s Bluff,” and here’s where it gets tough…”Two Mules for Sister Sara?” “Hell is for Heroes?” “Madigan?” “Crime in the Streets?” His remake of “Ride the Pink Horse?” Not sure…

  18. PerfectTommy: Righteo on “Invasion.” I am so bathed in the blood of Siegel that I dashed off a list of films, realized I forgot five almost as good (or better?) than the first five and completely forgot this seminal sci-fi pic that’s never been improved upon for lean, mean chills and effective creepy presentation of American conformist life as an alien takeover. I mean, how many pod people have you encountered this week?
    Subjects for further research: See “Madigan” again, watch “Crime in the Streets,” “Hound Dog Man,” “Flaming Star,” “Lineup” again, and I’ve perhaps seen “Hanged Man” eons ago, but would love to double bill that and the Robert Montgomery original. Anyone over at the Cinematheque peeking here? It’s time for the Siegelini retro. Let’s call Clint. Let’s rock…

  19. Don’t forget Private Hell 36 and Riot in Cell Block 11. Of the early Siegels, The Big Steal and The Verdict are pretty good.

  20. UCLA did a Siegel centennial fest a couple of years back; far from complete, but at least we got to see genuine rarities BABY FACE NELSON (wow) and NIGHT UNTO NIGHT (eh). It was also the first time I’d seen KILLERS in ages, and there was a bit of a shock at the very beginning: the main titles reuse Mancini’s music from TOUCH OF EVIL, and for a nanosecond we thought they’d threaded up the wrong film!

  21. Ah, “The Killers.” Reagan’s last role and the only time he played a villain, outside of his many right-wing gubnatorial/presidential escapades. That last shot of him in “Killers” is worth all of the Oscar-contending movies of 2008. I haven’t seen “Baby Face” in eons. Holds up, eh?

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