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Sharing the wonderfulness of Robert Culp

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Hickey & Boggs: Alas, Aero Theatre Q&A, We Hardly Knew Ye

During my Hickey & Boggs retrospective a couple of weeks ago I included a post  that featured a three part video, originally done by the folks at Criminally Unknown, from a Q&A session with Culp after a screening of the film at the Aero Theatre in LA in 2007. It appears the video is no longer available and the Criminally Unknown FB page is gone. Their Twitter account has been dormant for more than a year and their website is gone too. I know the internet is a fickle place and nothing last forever but…dammit all, did it have to go away not two weeks after I added it here?!

Their YouTube account appears to still remain, but also with no updates for more than a year, and the only piece of the nearly 40 minute Q&A session that was posted was a segment regarding Bill Hickman and the connection the Rolls Royce used in Hickey & Boggs had with The French Connection. I’m going to include the clip here but… don’t dilly dally watching it for it may be gone tomorrow.

If, by any remote, insane, million-to-one shot chance that somebody out there, either from Criminally Unknown or who knows them or something, sees this, could you contact me? I would be more than happy to give that 40 minute Q&A video a home with all proper credit and attribution and whathaveya to Criminally Unknown. The video is a rare, fantastic gem full of stories and tidbits on Culp’s only directorial feature. Oh please, don’t let it be lost forever…

Posted October 16th, 2012.

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Hickey & Boggs: Commentary, Tidbits and Extras

For the longest time it seems this movie languished in obscurity. I had heard of it almost as soon as I started delving into All Things Culp, but finding the thing proved a task. Up until 2011, there had not been an official DVD release and apparently whatever copy was out there floating around, was not of the greatest quality. One grainy clip of Culp and Cosby going into the hotel to try to find Mary Jane was about all I’d ever seen of the film. And that wasn’t even posted on YouTube.

Then sometime in 2009, I found the movie available through iTunes (and still is). Naturally I purchased and downloaded it, although I lamented going this route. I pined for a DVD, something tangible that ensured, for the most part, that I would always have the movie, even if I burned through the computer that I downloaded it to (which, eventually, I did.)

Thankfully, 20th Century Fox on behalf of MGM released the film in a manufacture on demand format – along with several other MGM titles that Fox now has the rights to – in 2011.

What saddens me is that Culp did not live to see the film finally get a proper DVD release. The demise of MGM in the 70’s, the breakup of the studio’s film catalogue between other studios (Fox, Warner and Sony/Paramount) pretty much shoved everything into a vault for years while legal issues were hammered out before any of these titles could see the light of day again. Also, before the advent of the manufacture on demand, studios were hesitant to make the investment into a DVD release for a movie that they felt probably wouldn’t get much of a return.

Very unfortunate, as it would have been fitting to have Culp put together a “director’s cut” or at least a good amount of extras and commentary on the movie.

What we do have though, is various tidbits and commentary about the movie via other sources that I wish to bring together here. Bonus material, if you will, that didn’t make the DVD…

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Posted October 5th, 2012.

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Hickey & Boggs

Originally released, September 20 (limited)/October 4 (nationwide), 1972

Robert Culp plays Frank Boggs who, along with Bill Cosby’s Al Hickey, is a down trodden gotta-reach-up-just-to-touch-the bottom of the barrel private investigator. Hickey and Boggs work out of an old office building somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, where the bright California sun does little to make their world any more cheerful. They’re old school PIs who are trying to hang on in a business that’s been pretty much legislated out of existence by the State of California.

These guys have hardly anything. They don’t have enough money to pay all their bills (but do manage to scrounge enough for drinks at the local bar), they drive junk cars, wear old suits and both have marriages/relationships that have busted apart.

Yet, they keep moving, not exactly forward but moving. And this is where the movie opens. They’re at the bar, having a few drinks, watching the boxing match on the tv. During the commercial break they talk finances. They don’t have enough money to pay both their phone service and the answering service, so Hickey only paid for the answering service. Boggs offers to borrower against his house, which I take based on Hickey’s reaction there’s not a lot of equity left in the place.

In order to check their messages and return phone calls, they’re reduced to using the payphones outside of the bar. One of the messages is for an appointment the next morning which Hickey has to make because Boggs decides he’s going into the tank. (Can you get any lower than this?)

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Posted October 4th, 2012.

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This is Hickey and This is Boggs

Magazine clipping that, unfortunately, I don’t know what magazine it comes from. However, I do know it’s from England. This was part of a small collection of foreign clippings related to Robert Culp I found on eBay a couple of years back.

Posted October 3rd, 2012.

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Hickey & Boggs: The Trailer

Part of my 40th Anniversary look at Hickey & Boggs, here’s an original trailer, this being a 55 second television spot that ran back in 1972 that I found on YouTube sometime back in 2011.


I’ll be honest in that I wasn’t really bowled over by this trailer – and I had already seen the movie multiple times. The disadvantage, of course, is I’m looking at this from a perspective forty years after the fact and I’ve been spoiled over the years by the likes of voice over folks like Don LaFontaine. (Can you imagine if Don LaFontaine had done the trailer for this one?). The voice over here sounds like Jack Webb and it has almost a Dragnet feel to it. The music –although definitely early 70’s flavor – is totally wrong for the film (infact, it’s not even music used in the film). The clips used are great and certainly show the down and out feel of the characters and the good action scenes in the film, but the music and voiceover just don’t cut it.  And the line about “they’ll knock you out of your seat” …um, eeeyeah.

Having been kind of disappointed in the original trailer (I think the movie deserved better), I was inspired to try to edit together one of my own. Now, mine’s probably no better than the original and I’ll admit my editing skills are pedestrian. Plus, I don’t have Don LaFontaine to do the voice over (in fact, I have no voice over with this). But, ever have an idea grab at you and not let you go until you do whatever it is it asks?

Posted October 2nd, 2012.

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Hickey & Boggs: 40th Anniversary

It was 40 years ago this September/October of 1972 that Robert Culp’s only feature length directing effort, Hickey & Boggs was released. The film starred Bill Cosby along with Culp and although it was not a big commercial success at the time of its release, the film has obtained something of a cult status and is now considered a lost gem of early 70’s noir.

I’m biased, of course, but this movie really is a lost gem. As such, and since Hickey & Boggs truly was a significant milestone in Robert Culp’s career, it seemed natural that my next “capapalooza” post would be for the film and I would have it ready by the time of the 40th anniversary. I actually started working on the post way back in January since I knew it would probably run a little long between the number of screens caps I had and doing the overview of the film.

A little long? The whole thing literally got away from me. I have hundreds of screen caps, the overview ran waaay too long plus I had tons of commentary. The whole thing ended up a monster.

So instead of one great big LONG overkill of a post, I decided to break things up into smaller parts. There will still be the usual big capapalooza post (with some restraint on the overview) but I will separate out most of my commentary and other tidbits and gems about the film into other posts. So stay tuned over the next few weeks for more on Hickey & Boggs.

 

Posted September 13th, 2012.

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Inside Out – Trailer (non US)

While roaming around YouTube lately I came across this foreign trailer for Inside Out. It’s in Farsi. In fact, the description on the video reads (thanks to a Farsi to English translator – though I wouldn’t stake my life on this): “Trailer “the price of a prisoner” Indonesia with Farah F. Voice. Reconstructed by myself.” I have not ever seen what the trailer for US audiences was but I would guess that this is probably pretty close, the only differences being the language overdub and some sound overdubs (the car racing across the bridge to make the jump).

Posted November 25th, 2011.

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Sky Riders

Originally released, 1976

Back when Culp material on YouTube was still pretty thin (2008/2009), I was pleasantly surprised to find this movie. Although the plot stretches things just a tad, it’s a good entertaining 90 minutes spent. Plus, I was knee deep in Maxwell Mania by the time I found this and I couldn’t help but see some brief flashes of Maxwell characteristics in Jonas Bracken. Very brief, mind you. The loose necktie and Culp’s particular vocalization in this thing are close to Maxwell (without the brassy language) and the fact that Bracken, for all his money and refined lifestyle, had no qualms about picking up a rifle and jumping into the fray with this thing. Maxwell woulda been proud.

Culp plays Jonas Bracken, an American multi-millionaire international businessman living in Greece, whose family is kidnapped by terrorists moments after he leaves the house for the day. Members of Bracken’s house staff are killed in the process and the kidnappers take off with his wife, Ellen (Susannah Yorke) and two children.

The police notify Bracken and immediately begin investigating, the lead cop being Inspector Nikolidis (Charles Aznavour). The kidnappers have left a two way radio at the house to communicate further instructions to Bracken. Bracken can only wait.

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Posted August 9th, 2011.

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Hannie Caulder Revisted: Tidbits

Mining the Google news archive for Hannie Caulder resulted in tidbits that were more of the one line Hollywood trashy gossip vague variety rather than anything of any substance. Some of it left me scratching my head, such as this titillating tidbit from entertainment writer/television critic Jack O’Brian in April of 1971: “The big explosion in Spain was Raquel Welch and Bob Culp battling for real on the set of “Hannie Caulder.”

And that’s all he wrote. What?! Are we implying here that Culp and Welch went toe to toe about something? Or did somebody confuse Culp with Patrick Curtis, Welch’s husband at the time? (The two were on the outs during the filming of this movie.) Of course, do you think I could find anything more about this supposed battle royal? Of course not.

A year later, in May of ‘72, Mr. O’Brian wrote: “Raquel Welch wears just a poncho and a gun in her “Hannie Caulder” Western. Her contract lets her okay every still used.”


I then found a few mentions by the blunt and often catty Hollywood columnist Joyce Haber, who wrote in May of 1971, “There’s a scandal brewing over ‘Hannie Caulder,’ the Raquel Welch starrer recently finished in Spain. Few, if any, collected their salaries beyond the first two weeks after shooting started. Certainly not Burt Kennedy, the director, or the cast which co-starred Ernest Borgnine and Robert Culp. ‘Hannie’ is a co-production of David Haft’s Tigon and Raquel “Pat Curtis” Curtwell. But Kennedy has spoken to his lawyer.”

She then followed up on June 2, 1971 with a correction: “David Haft cables from Twickenham Studios, London, that he had nothing to do with Raquel Welch’s latest film “Hannie Caulder.” That’s the one Burt Kennedy has consulted his lawyer about for default of salary. ‘The company is not David Haft’s Tigon nor am I in any way, shape or form responsible for its activities of financial obligations. Any difficulties between that company, Patrick Curtis (Miss Welch’s estranged mate), Burt Kennedy et al, are neither related to nor concern me. I would be most appreciative if you would make this a matter of record.’ Matter recorded, Mr. Haft.”

Incidentally, I found nothing more about the salary dispute and can only assume it was resolved and everyone was paid.

Earl Wilson chimed in as well, commenting on the situation between Raquel Welch and husband Patrick Curtis. Things were not well but on April 8, 1971, Wilson reported that things had been “resolved.” I’m guessing that resolved meant they split up, which was what was reported four days later by Norma Lee Browning of the Chicago Tribune. (Welch and Curtis were divorced by January of ’72).

If the trite breathless Hollywood “news” items weren’t bad enough, reviews for ‘Hannie Caulder’ were not particularly kind or enthusiastic. “A travesty of the western genre.” “Bland Mediocrity.” One reviewer points out that the film can’t seem to make up its mind if it’s a tragedy or a comedy (which I’ll concede is a legitimate point).

Culp, however, apparently took most critics by surprise. In fact, one review put it that “Culp is a surprise also, the pleasantest one.” Another review calls Culp “personable” and says he “plays it like he did in ‘I Spy’ on TV and charms Miss Welch and the audience. “

On the other end of the spectrum, Jamie Portman of the Calgary Herald wrote on August 9, 1972, “With his greying beard, dark jacket and granny glasses, Thomas Luther looks more circuit preacher than lethal gunslinger. Look closer and you make the improbable discovery that it’s really Robert Culp hiding behind all that foliage.

“Mr. Culp appears more embarrassed than smitten by Miss Welch’s charms. Objecting to their ample display, he loans her a pair of his trousers. The trousers, unhappily, are baggy, but Miss Welch solves that problem by visiting the territory’s haberdasher and decking herself out in a pair of suede pants which, after repeated immersion in a bath-barrel, give the impression that she’s been poured into them.”

Mr. Portman later added that “Mr. Culp is stalwart in a bizarre sort of way.” Not sure exactly what he means by that…


Norman Dresser of the Toledo Blade wasn’t thrilled much with the movie at all, commenting that “Miss Welch wears a sack-like poncho throughout the movie, which hides 90 percent of her screen personality.”

And of Culp? Mr. Dresser wrote, “Also on hand, in another off-beat bit of casting, is Robert Culp as a bounty hunter who teaches Miss Welch how to shoot so she can carry out her mission. He teaches her very well, indeed.”


Stefanie Pettit of the Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) was blunt. “Bland at best, this film has simply nothing at all to recommend it” and “if by some chance, (Welch) should become flat-chested later in life, all her talent will be gone.”

Man. As I read these reviews all I could think of was how hard these critics had to work to try an outdo each other in the snark and smarm department back then. Then I realized that nothing’s changed since.

Despite all that, I did find one redeeming piece of Hollywood gossip. This, from an uncredited column from March 12, 1971: “Bob Culp – in Spain doing it with Raquel Welch in ‘Hannie Caulder’ flying on still another trip. Got his shirts back from a local cleaning chick with something new in laundry marks – the home phone number of the senorita who did the ironing.”

Call me. I’ll press your shirts anytime…

My non-snark, non-smarm overview and screen caps of “Hannie Caulder” can be found here.

Posted June 14th, 2011.

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