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…
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…
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?)
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.
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?