John Flynn’s tight little crime thriller is a lot like a Don Siegel movie. Not just any Siegel film, mind you, but one of the greatest, CHARLEY VARRICK. Each a tale of dirty money inadvertently stolen from the mob with sympathetic robbers pursued by professional hit men; the films also share Joe Don Baker as co-star, plus Sheree North in sleazy support. And just to make sure no missed the resemblance, each got an October 1973 theatrical release. Who schedules these things? But if OUTFIT never reaches the unheralded masterpiece status of VARRICK, it’s still a dandy piece of modernized knowing noir filmmaking. Robert Duvall is all keyed up as a just released prisoner looking for payback after learning that his brother’s murder came on orders from high class mob chairman Robert Ryan. Partnered with girlfriend Karen Black & trusted sideman Joe Don Baker, they circle back to Ryan in a series of raids on his gambling ops. Flynn, or some clever casting agent, populates each step of the way with a classic noir character type (Elisha Cook Jr., Tim Carey, Henry Jones, Richard Jaeckel and Jane Greer & Marie Windsor in the same film!), all with something real to do, it's no nostalgia parade. Taken from a Donald Westlake novel (writing as Richard Stark and feeling a bit like Elmore Leonard), the downbeat locations are gritty and well-caught by regular Siegel lenser Bruce Surtees. With a shot list as plain & functional as a Siegel pic, though with a few dead compositions Siegel wouldn’t have let go by. It’s a strong little film, but Flynn rarely had a chance to show his best form after this.
DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned above, CHARLEY VARRICK/’73.