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.

  • AndrewOwens

    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.

  • http://www.suburbanvoodoo.blogspot.com rgmax99

    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.

  • Gordie Lachance

    This is almost as good of a double feature as the Raging Bull / Manhattan one the Film Forum is running March 28th.

  • AndrewOwens

    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.

  • http://moviemaniac2002 moviemaniac2002

    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.

  • bmcintire

    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.

  • http://www.moviesunlimited.com movieirv

    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!

  • lazarus

    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.

  • http://hollywoodgraffiti.blogspot.com atticusrex

    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.

  • BurmaShave

    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.

  • Gaydos

    “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.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    And John Vernon is a real firecracker in CV.

  • BurmaShave

    Gaydos, the comparison is completely absurd. Sorry, but it is. I love both.

  • Dravot

    BurmaShave,
    FYI, you can buy the score to PELHAM here:
    http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm?ID=1285
    I have an earlier, 20-track version that Film Score Monthly put out years ago. Don’t know why it changed. But that main theme is infectious…

  • JapAdapters

    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.

  • Gaydos

    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?

  • T. S. Idiot

    “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.

  • Edward

    I’d love to have seen Matthau in “Charade.” I don’t think there’s a role he couldn’t play.

  • http://christiandivine.com christian

    You should know that Otto Preminger wanted Matthau for SKIDOO. Perhaps Matthau didn’t want to be a part of that and CANDY in the same year. We can only imagine…

  • BurmaShave

    Gaydos, I think there’s a mythic quality in NO COUNTRY not present in VARRICK, but fair enough. Agree to disagree.

  • christian

    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.

  • christian

    I mean, “Siegel is nature”

  • Gaydos

    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.

  • christian

    THE KILLERS is also Criterion.

  • modernknife

    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”

  • Gaydos

    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…

  • PerfectTommy

    For a Siegelini Box on Criterion I would move “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” near the top of that list.

  • Gaydos

    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…

  • T. S. Idiot

    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.

  • Cadavra

    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!

  • Gaydos

    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?