Sharing the wonderfulness of Robert Culp

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A Tip of the Hat…

Previously I had to give a wag of the finger to Newsweek, for failure to even mention Robert Culp or put a dinky lil’ picture of him in their multi-page spread of notable folks who passed away in 2010.

This time I give a tip of the hat to New York Times Magazine in their year-end selection of notable folks who passed in 2010 with this interesting reflection on Culp titled “The Self Conscious Hunk.”

Self-conscious? I take it the writer never saw that issue of Oui magazine or the Playboy spread… Ahem…

Anyway, the piece speaks positively of Culp but I have some comments on a couple of points made.

The piece talks about Culp’s “slickness” in reference to his portrayal of Kelly Robinson and what it all meant to be a man in the mid-1960s with the smarm and charm and getting the girls. The first season of I Spy, Kelly’s wardrobe consisted of the expected playboy type clothes, nice suits, ect. His hair was short, jet black and never out of place. He sported ascot ties occasionally, very debonair, along with a Rolex watch and black onyx ring. If your dictionary needed a photo for the word “suave” Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson was it.

The writer went on to say that by the time of 1969’s “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” Culp’s “slickness” had gotten old and more grizzled actors like Elliot Gould and Jack Nicholson would go on to dominate and represent the whole masculine definition through the 1970s.

Thing was, Culp wasn’t even really that “slick” by 1969. In my own personal observation, by the second season of I Spy, Kelly Robinson was starting to look a little rough around the edges. The hair got a little longer, the grey was threatening to show and Kelly just wasn’t as polished looking as when first introduced. Not that Culp wasn’t still fluid and suave as Robinson, he was. But Culp – through Kelly – looked to be reflecting both the wear and tear of the spy business and Kelly’s own inner demons along with the fast changing times that became the post-1965 world. The revolution, as it was, culturally and socially and the redefining of the role of a man. Ascot ties and close crop hair need not apply.

The writer goes on to say that Culp’s stardom essentially ended after B&C&T&A and that he was “confined largely to supporting roles on TV.” I’m not so sure Culp was “confined.”  To say that Culp couldn’t have been of the same super star status as Jack Nicholson is pure crock. Maybe Culp made some decisions in his career that kept it from the super star path, but Culp was no less suited to being on par with any of the other actors who were considered to represent the masculine definition of the 1970s. That Culp couldn’t have been “grizzled” and “emotionally messy?” Sure he could have. With aplomb.

Although I disagree on a couple of points in the piece, I’m not complaining. All matters of opinion are subjective anyway and every one of us sees things a little differently.  Still, I tip my hat to the New York Times Magazine for including Culp in their list, not so much to mark his death but, as they explain in their overview of the section, to include him as part of “a collection of narratives that celebrate lives.”

Too bad Newsweek couldn’t spill any ink for him for that.

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The latest issue of Newsweek magazine honors some of the notable folks who we lost in 2010. Unfortunately, there was somebody missing from that list…


No mention at all of Robert Culp. None. For shame Newsweek!

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Inside Out

Inside Out

Originally released October 1975 (UK), January 1976 (US)

I purchased this publicity photo of Robert Culp for this movie off eBay back in September 2010. The photo prompted me to try to find this movie as I knew little of it and seriously, a pose like that? Facing down some bad dude, dressed in a military uniform? SOLD!

At the time it was only available on places like iOffer and the occasional vintage VHS tape on eBay. I was almost going go with a DVD “copy” from iOffer when I learned that Warner Brothers would be releasing the film through their Archive Collection as a DVD on demand. It couldn’t have  been more than two weeks after I bought the photo and started searching for the movie. Strangely enough the same thing happened when I first “discovered” Culp and went looking for I Spy DVDs. Just a few weeks later, all three seasons were released.

Although there’s mixed reviews out there for Inside Out, I enjoyed the film and found it to be a pretty good caper type movie. Culp plays Sly Wells, an ex-con and former thief, now trying to live quietly and keep out of jail in Amsterdam. Telly Savalas is Harry Morgan, a WWII veteran and former POW living in London trying to find his next big hustle (indeed, his flat is for sale and his car is repossessed at the start of the movie). Harry gets a letter from the former POW camp Kommandant who had a business proposition for him: Help him find six million dollars in Nazi gold persumed lost during the war.

The answer to the gold’s location lies with a high ranking Nazi official who is being held in a high security prison in West Berlin. To get the answer, he’ll have to be removed from the prison for a little while and then returned – with no one knowing he’s gone.

Harry tells the former Kommandant that he knows somebody who might be able to help them. Enter Sly Wells.

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Continue reading more of Inside Out…

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