A Name for Evil


Originally released, 1973

Oh man. Where do I start with this one?

Early in my exploration of All Things Culp, I kept finding interesting tidbits and discussions about this movie. The descriptors were pretty much the same across the board. The movie was weird, bizarre, strange, it didn’t make sense and, oh yeah, Culp shows all in one scene.

What? Culp shows….what? Well. Ahem…

I bought the movie late last year off Amazon, paying just 4 bucks for the thing. The DVD case carries a warning on it, saying this movie was “not for children or adults who scare easily.”

I paused. Horror flicks really aren’t my gig. I can’t do slasher films and the like. If something so hideous happens to Culp in this thing I’ll be scarred for life, I thought. I mean, there was a warning on the DVD case! Even one of the photos on the case was of Culp who looked like his soul had just been ripped away from him and he was about to lose his life!

Gah. I dunno if I can watch this.

But…none of the online discussions mention anything really horrible or hideous happening in this film. Besides, he’s buck naked in some scene…

Okay, okay. No problem. We can handle this. It can’t be that bad. And if it is, I can always stop the movie. Awright, deep breath. Put the disc in, hit play…

Culp plays Jonathan Blake, an architect, who decides he’s had enough of city living and corporate rat race and he and his wife Johanna (Samantha Eggar) are going to pack up and move to his great- grandfather’s decrepit estate up north. The goal is to rehab the large estate. In celebration of breaking free from the chains of daily city living, John takes his television set and throws it off the balcony.

He then turns to his wife and right away, we realize that John has an issue with separating reality from fantasy as he goes back and forth picturing exotic dancers and Johanna with her hair down and looking at him with longing. The reality however, is she’s not looking at him this way. She’s really not all too thrilled with this move but doesn’t make any argument. Instead she goes to lie down for a while.

He goes into the bedroom and sits down near her on the bed as she sleeps. “I wish I knew you as well as I love you. I promise you by all that I hold dear, which, above all is still you, I can tell the truth from fantasy. Let’s try and find out the truth, together. I love you, woman. Embrace the truth with me before we wreck each other. A five minute embrace. Each day…” When he steps out on to the patio and looks back in, it’s fantasy again. She’s standing at the door way, says she wants him to make love to her, and that she can’t wait until tomorrow when they can wander around the Grove, just the two of them. Then it all snaps back to the reality.

They fly up north and then drive to Fats Landing and stop to check in at a motel before going out to the house. John gets an earful from the motel owner/ local mechanic/preacher about “The Major.” The mechanic’s granddaddy didn’t care for the Major and near as can be told the mechanic ain’t too thrilled about John Blake either. Undeterred, John makes an offer to the mechanic to help with hiring local labor for a percentage. The mechanic doesn’t say no, only saying he’ll think about it. (Money talks, he ends up agreeing.)

At the house, John and Johanna explore the house and grounds. (Check out that ring Culp’s wearing on his pinky!) The place is a wreck and it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it back to any kind of glory. Here we start getting the creepy stuff going as John thinks he sees somebody on the porch. When he goes up to get a closer look we have the disembodied voice saying, “It’s mine. The Grove is mine! Go away…Go away!”

 

No, I wasn’t exactly scared by this point.

Johanna’s not really thrilled with the prospects of the house. After a talk with Jimmy – and no, I don’t know who Jimmy is supposed to be, he’s just…there – she’s even less enthused. They had a tenant who apparently had died some time ago, which they weren’t aware of. They had written him several letters which had not been returned to them for any reason. According to Jimmy, no one had lived in the “big house” since the death of the Major. His use of the term “big house” leads me to believe that there was a carriage house or some other building on the property, that maybe this tenant was living in.

John gets part of his fantasy, walking the grounds of the Grove with Johanna. But she’s not all lovey dovey and they’re bickering a bit. The house is wreck and she strongly suggests that they just sell it. He’s convinced he can make it work. She’s not.

Back at the motel, Johanna’s ready to pack up and go back to Connecticut. John wants to check the house and grounds more and he proceeds to change his clothes to do so. We’re just over 17 minutes into this movie and Culp’s got his shirt off!

In all seriousness though, a very revealing conversation takes place during this scene where Johanna points out that this whole thing is just an escape for him. An escape from himself. She points out the fact that John never finishes anything he starts. He doesn’t apply himself to anything, his job, his career. Their marriage. She’s pretty sure he won’t apply himself to this idea of renovating the house and when things go wrong he’ll blame everything and everyone. It will be yet another unfinished project of his in a long line of unfinished business. He tells her that this time, he’s going to follow through.

Obviously there are some serious problems in their marriage too, of which his fantasies might be contributing to.

He goes back to the house to poke around. And may I add that he goes poking around this dilapidated, falling down, dirty, moldy, crappy old house in WHITE jeans?! Yes, Culp looks great in white jeans, it was practically a trademark for him on I Spy but…Sheesh! Anyway, he talks to Jimmy a bit too, which – have I mentioned I dunno who the hell Jimmy is supposed to be? Is he a caretaker of the grounds? A local guy? He’s always there! Anyway, he tells a story of the Major and when John talks about how the house is his now, Jimmy says, “Always the Major’s, always will be.”

We have a dead animal in the house and some more spooks from the ghost. John spots a man ride off on a white horse. There’s a continuity error here in that Culp’s lost his beads somewhere.

I’m still not scared by much. Intrigued yes, by this ghost and all, but not scared of anything. This is a horror movie?

The renovations get underway and John has hired some of the locals to do the work. They grumble though about being paid – in cash.

Dinner with Johanna inside the house. They talk about inviting some friends down and some ideas about the house. For the first time, Johanna seems genuinely interested in the progress of the renovation which makes me wonder if this is a fantasy scene of John’s.

During renovations, workers uncover a room that had been sealed up for some 50 years. Then there’s a dissolve to a scene in the room again, only I think it’s partly some of John’s fantasy. He especially likes the way Johanna’s hands massage the leather of the chair. She then wanders off to another room and he hears her laughter. He sees her shadow then sees an extra shadow but when he goes to the room, she’s gone. The room’s empty.

The fantasy, if it was one, or the spookfest, if that’s what it was, ends and Jimmy is standing in the doorway (he’s always there!). When John says what their plans are for the room, Jimmy warns that the Major won’t like it.

Like the ghost of the Major earlier in the film, John says that the house “is mine.” He basically tells Jimmy that if he doesn’t like what’s being done, he can leave.

Then we have some more spooky weirdness, shadows on the walls, the neighing of a horse, MORE shadows on the wall and then John nearly falls down the stairs. The Major’s voice warns once again, “The Grove is mine! Go away!”

Then we find some weirdness in the basement. John hears Johanna’s laughter again and finds she’s in the basement as well, or is he fantasizing again? It’s hard to tell by this point. Either way, there’s a tunnel she’s found. After she leaves and goes back upstairs, John looks in the tunnel and a cold blast of air comes through along with the voice of the Major “Go! Go away!” John jumps out of the way of a cabinet or something and he drops the lantern nearly starting a fire (and nearly catching himself on fire, I think Culp’s pant leg gets a taste of it). The fire burns itself out and he takes off through an open basement doorway (NOT the tunnel!)….

… and ends up outside at a water fall.

I’m totally not scared of anything in this movie at this point. I’m just confused. Unfortunately, this is where the unfinished state of the film really starts to show it’s cracks because this makes ZERO sense. He looks like he just barely made it out of hell’s doorway but we saw him leave through a basement doorway that looks like it he should have just ended up outside the house somewhere. Instead he ends up God knows where, with a very beautiful waterfall, babbling to himself about the shadows on the wall and the basement tunnel.

The next scene is John and Johanna entertaining some guests. The woman thinks the old house is absolutely fantastic, groovy and such. Seriously. Her exact quote, “This old house absolutely sends me into a thousand and one fantastic absolutely marvelous ways of understanding what is really such a worthwhile way of developing and reaching out for something. I mean, this is way beyond any kind of description. I can’t believe all the absolutely fantastic – I mean where can you go when you’ve reached the really marvelous kind of aspirations which makes this all so incredible.”

As the women are talking to each other, John’s trying to keep his attention on the husband, Hugh, but he keeps looking toward Johanna and the other woman. Johanna’s complaining about no heat and no running water and all. Hugh is trying to tell John how he can sell the property for 10 times what it’s worth.

Dinner with Johanna again and a talk about their guests. Johanna notes that John always seems uncomfortable around Hugh. John’s reason? “He’s an ass.” Johanna tells John that Hugh is not an ass, he’s a man who knows what he wants in life and he’s gotten it. “That’s not being an ass.” On that pleasant note, they then return to the motor home to go to bed.

John has something else on his mind. And Johanna seems receptive to his amorous intentions until it stops suddenly. We hear the voice of the ghost saying “she’s mine!” before it all runs cold. When John asks her what’s wrong all she says is, “if you don’t know, I can’t tell you.” Man, something is so seriously wrong in this marriage.

Culp, by the way, bares quite a bit in this scene. Not all, as he’s strategically positioned, but quite a bit. Ahem.

Rejected, John dresses and leaves the motor home for a bit. Outside he spots a white horse, the same white horse he had seen and heard a time or two before but now it was right there in front of him. And Jimmy just happens to be out and about during the night too (imagine!) and is there for John to ask who the horse belongs too. Jim says it’s the Major’s. Wait a minute, hasn’t the Major been dead now for like 50 years?? The average age of a horse is anywhere from 25 to 30 years but…. John jumps on the horse and rides off.

Folks, this is where the electric kool aid acid test goes viral and the movie spins totally off into hippy dippyville. Totally groovy, free form funkified hippy heaven.

John rides the horse to Fats Landing, rides the horse straight into a bar and proceeds to spill off the animal and on to the floor. He’s hauled up off the floor, brushed off, offered a drink and invited to dig the scene.

And what a scene. We’ve got singing and dancing, and roasted chicken and some kind of arm wrastlin’ thang going on and spaghetti. Lots and lots of spaghetti. No sauce though. More dancing and singing. Beer and drinks flowing. The horse finally turns around and leaves.

Billy Joe Royal sings a song. Billy Joe Royal?! How he went from “Down in the Boondocks” to this thing, I’ll never know.

The mechanic/preacher dude from earlier in the movie, introduces John to a pretty young blonde (Sheila Sullivan). Really, strains of “Love the One You’re With” should’ve been playing at this point. Instead, Billy Joe Royal starts in with a song called “Mountain Woman.” (Actually not a bad song but it doesn’t appear he released it on any of his records.)

The pretty young blonde starts unbuttoning John’s shirt. (Culp’s shirt is off again!)

It isn’t long before everybody’s naked and dancing and then there’s a romp through the woods. I have completely forgotten by this point that this is supposed to be a horror movie. This is the point where Culp bares all and, folks, this about the only screen cap I can post without getting myself in trouble! (Culp, conveniently, censors himself!)

Needless to say he scores with the girl (crass way of putting it but…) and then he rambles on to her something about people who are never wrong, who never make a mistake “are beautiful people. And also very, very dangerous…”

In the morning light she asks if she’ll see him again. He doesn’t know. She tells him who she is, where she lives and that she’s there most all the time. She knows who he is because she knows where his big old spooky house is. All he can do is wonder what happened to his shirt and to the horse. He has pants and a jacket. And a hat. What I want to know is where his clothes came from because he was not carrying them when they first came out into the woods! Nor was he wearing that jacket and hat when he first rode into the bar.

He returns to the house and the trailer, to find the door open, the bed wrecked and an ash tray with a cigar in it. We then see the Major briefly up on the balcony (he dresses like Brett Maverick), smoking a cigar.

Inside the house Johanna is cleaning up from their dinner the night before. She talks about how they’ve been there six weeks and very little has been done. They have half the kitchen, a place to sleep and a room for John’s “study.”

We just saw John in the previous scene have relations with a woman who was not his wife. Now he’s all jealous thinking that somebody was in the trailer with Johanna that night and he asks her. The answer she gives him is that it was him, that he had gone out for about ten minutes and came back as something vile, saying he had tried to kill her.

Her description of the experience would have made a fine horror film scene. But instead we had John in hippy dippyville.

Anyway, he tells her that he wasn’t there last night, he was at Fats Landing and that he can prove it.

He then goes later that night to where Luanne lives, the girl he was with during our hippy dippy scene. To find out, he tells her, if she was for real. (Or was Johanna right and he was as vile as she described and he didn’t remember any of it.) So he and Luanne talk for a bit and then drive to a waterfall. And they do it again…

Afterward, he drops her off and drives back to the house. As he’s driving, Johanna’s words about him, how he doesn’t apply himself to anything, how he’s sick, insane… and how he tried to kill her echo in his mind. When he comes back to the house, he comes in through that tunnel in the basement. (The one we’re not sure where it leads out to, to begin with). He goes up to the bedroom, where Johanna is napping, removes his clothes and sits down on the bed beside her. His owns words echo in his mind, about knowing the difference between fantasy and truth. “Let’s find the truth, together….before we wreck each other.”

Which leaves the question about this entire scene. Is it truth or is it fantasy? Is he possessed? Because he becomes very aggressive with his advance on her, even smacking her across the face. Then she rises up on the bed and comes up with a knife in her hand ready to…GAH!! He deflects her and the next thing we know, just like with the television set at the beginning of the movie, he’s spinning Johanna around in the room and right out the window…

End of movie. The final scene is a funeral service near the observation deck/gazebo. We don’t see John at all.

Damn. Whoever put the DVD cover together sold snake oil in another life. “Nail biting, suspense filled horror movie?” The pilot episode for Supernatural scared the crap out of me. This movie did not. I tip my hat to the film editor, though, who was given the impossible task of putting what footage there was together into something of a storyline without the ending. What’s unfortunate is the potential for this movie to be more a pyscho-horror was there, the performers were all great and even the film score is fantastic. So what the hell happened?

It’s hard to tell. The film, originally titled “The Grove” when it went into production in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in July of 1970, was never finished and ended up in bankruptcy. Originally to be released by MGM, it languished on a shelf for three years, until it was edited together and released by Penthouse Productions in 1973. There was little to no promotion or fanfare for it (though it was noted in both Playboy and Penthouse magazines at the time) and if they managed to recoup a dollar, I would be amazed to know. The original budget for the film was reported to be $750,000.

The film was shot on location in Vancouver and the Major’s estate, or “The Grove,” was a place known (and still known as) the Wigwam Inn. It was built in 1909 and was once a “showpiece of British Columbia.” In 1962, the Wigwam was under different ownership and had fallen out of favor pretty much by this point. The owner attempted to establish it as a millionaire’s gambling casino but was raided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and subsequently convicted on bribery charges and sent to prison for six years. The Wigwam stood idle and empty for several years, stripped of some of its wood and materials by unknown persons, taken over by squatters on occasion and essentially neglected and forgotten. It found new life briefly during the filming of “A Name for Evil,” sat dormant for a few more years and then was bought in 1975 and completely renovated and restored. The Inn changed ownership once more and is now a part of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (and a “Members Only” stop over). It stands much more beautiful and inviting today than ever.

The observation deck/gazebo that Culp stands on in one scene (also where the motor home was parked near) was also renovated and still stands.

Vancouver was quite a buzz  in 1970 when the movie was being made, as it was one of three projects reported at the time of being filmed in and around Vancouver. “The Grove” was the first and there were a few mentions in the entertainment section of The (Vancouver) Sun newspaper, starting in June of 1970. Thanks to Google Archive, many of these articles can be viewed.

Such as this article from July 10, 1970 about the art director/set designer for “The Grove.” Interesting to note that not all the interior rooms seen in the movie are from the Wigwam Inn. Another home that was being remodeled at the time was utilized.

Celebrity columnist Jack Wasserman for The Sun mentioned Culp in a column on July 14, 1970…

“That really was Robert Culp riding in the Sea Festival parade Saturday but the girl beside him was a script assistant from the company that is producing The Grove. Samantha Eggar begged off with a sore back. Culp was dragged in at the last minute as a favor to Doug Emery, of Harbor Ferries, who is a paddle wheel in the festival. Incidentally, after the parade, the assorted dignitaries in charge of events were so busy congratulating themselves that they completely ignored Culp, who’d taken a water taxi down from the North Arm just to help out.”

They ignored Culp?! How rude!

A water taxi or any kind of boat, by the way, is the only way you can get to the Wigwam Inn. There are no roads.

One other press mention I found was from New York Post syndicated columnist Earl Wilson, who wrote a piece about Culp and Sheila Sullivan in November, 1970. The movie here is referred to as “In the Beginning” and there’s no mention of it not being completed. Culp lists this movie as one of three things he had done as an actor that he actually liked (up to that point, the other two things being I Spy and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), a sentiment that apparently stayed true even years later.

“A Name for Evil” is available from Amazon.com, still for about $4.

Hannie Caulder

Originally released, November 8 1971 (UK), June 30, 1972 (US)

I mentioned previously that the moustache Robert Culp sports in the Columbo episode, “The Most Crucial Game” threw me for a bit of loop. More or less because it wasn’t fake as there’s footage of him from a game show appearance and a documentary from the same time period. So what was my thought of the Grizzly Adams-ish beard for Hannie Caulder?

What? That’s Robert Culp? Honest, when I first saw a photo of Culp from this movie I did not recognize him. Let’s pause and compare a moment here, shall we?

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1969 Hannie Caluder, 1971

A mere two years or so separate the two roles, Bob in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1969 and Thomas Luther Price in our subject of this post, from 1971.  Seriously, if you didn’t already know who you were looking at, would you have known that the man on the left was the same man on the right?

Robert Culp plays bounty hunter Thomas Luther Price who comes upon Raquel Welch’s Hannie Caulder after Hannie has suffered rape and the murder of her husband by three outlaws (played by Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin). She wears nothing more than a blanket and carries a Winchester rifle which she points at Thomas when he inquires about wanting to get some water for himself and his horses. She says nothing to him and he figures either she doesn’t understand him or she’s just a wench. He’s about to wave her off, literally, and with the motion of his hand he grabs the rifle from her. He empties the chamber and hands the gun back to her – his first mistake. His second mistake is turning his back on her to walk away and she promptly whacks him on the back of the head with the butt of the Winchester.

Hannie goes over to his horse and notices the dead man being carried on the other horse. She realizes Thomas is a bounty hunter and that perhaps, he can help her. She remains by him, settling him against a saddle and covering him with a blanket and waits for him to regain consciousness.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Continue reading more of Hannie Caulder…

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.

Sly is a little gun shy at first (staying out of jail has been nice) but given the potential financial windfall if they pull it off, he agrees. He and Harry fly to West Berlin to meet with former Kommandant Ernst Furben (James Mason). Furben shows them the Seigfried Prison and then Harry sets up Sly and himself at a fancy hotel. Harry then sets out to get some help from a few more players in our caper.

Harry makes a connection with an old friend who is a dealer in precious metals and gems. He agrees to help convert the gold into cash – for a price of course. Further details are hashed out over dinner where Harry is introduced to the lovely Erika – a nurse – and learns about Udo Blimpermann, a man with an insatiable appetite and the owner of the largest West Berlin costume company.

Harry brings Erika and Udo back to the hotel later that evening, although getting Udo to the room causes quote a commotion because he’s eaten too much and has passed out. Harry introduces Sly to the two newest additions to the troop. Sly takes a shine to Erika as she does to him.

Now if I had met Sly looking the way he did with the black robe and all…I’d have taken a shine too. Chess? I don’t know how to play chess but who cares?!

Ahem. Moving right along…

The next day, Ernst introduces Sly to Schmidt, who served in a transportation company during the war and had originally been assigned to pick up the gold at a train depot. His orders were overruled by the SS at the depot. He didn’t know it was gold that he was going to be picking up but found out when he witnessed one of the boxes drop and break open while being unloaded from the train.

Harry, meanwhile, makes contact with the ranking NCO at the prison, Prior, a guy that was a POW along with Harry during the war. Harry elicits the Master Sergeant’s help (again, for a cut of the profits) and Harry, Sly, Ernst and Schmidt and Prior have a meeting back at the hotel to lay out the early foundation of their plan.

Sly takes care of some logistics with a helping hand from Erika, including finding an abandoned public building to borrow for awhile and a few props to go with it. Erika also studies up on preparing the proper amount of a tranquilizer drug for Holtz – the top Nazi being held at the prison.

Ernst and Schmidt, meanwhile, set up a simple blackmail against the doctor who is allowed in and out of the prison to see Holtz. Holtz, by the way is the only prisoner in the ENTIRE prison. He’s guarded 24 hours a day by an entire compliment of American soldiers.

With everything in place, and American military uniforms care of Udo Blimpermann, Harry and Sly arrive at the prison with the doctor to make the switch, which is to leave the doctor behind in Holtz’s cell and bring Holtz out dressed as the doc. Holtz is told he’s being given a vitamin B12 shot when in fact it’s the tranquilizer. Doc switches his clothes for Holtz’s and Holtz is ready to go. Doc remains behind in the cell and Harry gives the story that Holtz will need to see a dental surgeon in the morning and Master Sergeant Prior issues orders that ensure the prisoner will not be seen by anyone other than the “doc” the next morning – along with a “dental surgeon” (Ernst).

Harry and Sly escort Holtz out of the prison, although barely – a few checkpoint protocols are nearly breached but between Harry (acting as an Army Major) and Prior they manage to pull enough rank to make it out of the prison. They make a quick stop to pick up Erika and as they drive on to the abandoned public building Sly had scouted earlier, Erika and Sly do up some makeup on Holtz to make him look like he did during the war.

At the old courthouse, Harry, Sly and Erika bring Holtz in (who’s just loopy enough under the tranq to walk upright but not comprehend what’s going on). He’s put into a Nazi uniform and stood up at the doorway, just as the effects of the tranq are wearing off. He enters the old courtroom where Ernst, Sly and Schmidt are waiting for him. Ernst wears a uniform of the German High Command, Sly is dressed in the uniform of the SS (the fact that Culp looks so good in it is just so wrong) and Schmidt is dressed as a very convincing Hitler. All of it convinces Holtz that he’s right back in 1942. Hitler wants to know where the gold is. It takes a little time to jar Holtz’s memory but they succeed.

There’s just one slight problem. The location of the gold, at Holtz’s former summer residence, is located in East Germany (remember, this was 1975 and Germany was still very much divided. Berlin, also divided East and West, was located in East Germany). Harry, Sly, Ernst and Schmidt make their way through Checkpoint Charlie and cross over into East Germany. They locate Holtz’s former summer residence and know that the underground bunker was to the left of the residence but here they come up to their next problem: The underground bunker where Holtz hid the gold now has a tenement building sitting over it.

To gain access to the building, Ernst figures to contact a former fellow German soldier who had defected to the Russians at the end of the war. Ernst is sure they can get his help, with the promise of a cut. The man’s loyalty to the Russians, however, proves stronger. He holds everyone at gunpoint until a Russian colonel arrives.

The Russian colonel, however, is more easily persuaded by money. He shoots down Ernst’s former comrade and instead of arresting the Americans, he agrees to help them to get the gold – for a cut.

Sly, knowing they might need an ace in the hole, manages to snag the dead East German’s gun without the Russian seeing him and quietly pockets it in his trench coat.

The Russian colonel mobilizes the East German police and has the building evacuated under the guise of there being an unexploded bomb inside. Harry, Sly, Ernst and Schmidt go in as a bomb disposal team. They access the bomb shelter by blowing a hole through the basement floor. Down in the bunker they find the gold, hidden behind a folding dressing screen. The fruits of their labor realized, the four men bask for a moment in the glow of the gold.

They load up the gold in their truck and return to the garage of Holtz’s summer residence (next door to the tenement building) to change back to their American uniforms and get the hell out of Dodge. When Schmidt goes to open the garage doors, however, the Russian colonel is right there. He orders them to load the gold into his car after which he will kill them. Harry attempts to disarm the Russian only to trigger a brief but chaotic shootout in the garage. Schmidt goes down by the Russian’s gun, Sly takes the Russian down. Harry doesn’t allow much of a pause upon Schmidt’s death and he, Sly and Ernst clear out immediately following the shooting. They get half way to the checkpoint when Sly suddenly turns the car in a 180. At the checkpoint crossing they came over with four in the car, he explains. They had to go back with four in the car.

So they go back for Schmidt, sit him up in the back seat and head back to the checkpoint. They clear through, but not before being told the flags on their car are on wrong. (Dead body in the back seat? No problem. Flags wrong on staff car? Problem).  The guard at the checkpoint fixes the flags and then sends them on their way. Cleared through, they stop at a bridge to dump Schmidt’s body into the river. They then arrive at the business of the gem dealer to unload the gold. Sly makes one final stop to see Erika, who has been keeping a watch over a more heavily sedated Holtz, to let her know they had been successful.

The next morning, Harry, Sly and Ernst head back to the Siegfried Prison with Holtz, but not before being held up by a jackknifed truck and pile of wooden shipping pallets all over the road. The clean up will only take about five minutes…but they have to wait an hour for a tow truck. The boys certainly don’t have an hour to wait so Harry makes a suggestion to Sly: Jump the car.  Sly thinks he’s crazy but they had little choice so Sly agrees to do it.

I loved Culp’s look of grim determination as he’s speeding the car across the bridge. Successfully jumping the car, they continue on to the prison and arrive to return Holtz back to his prison cell (but not without nearly getting their cover blown).  Nonetheless, they get Holtz back in, they (and the Doc) get back out and after leaving their car in the middle of a busy street in West Berlin, the only thing left for Harry, Sly and Ernst to do is laugh all the way to the bank.

As I said at the beginning, despite mixed reviews, I enjoyed this one. There is one part where the movie drags a little and I literally looked at my watch and thought “Uh, fellas, you got about 30 minutes left of this movie and you haven’t gotten Holtz out of the prison yet!” But those last 30 minutes move a good pace. The music in this thing was the only thing I had  a problem with. The dramatic music was good, but the cheezy-even-for-the-70s wah wah stuff seemed poorly chosen.

I also found interesting seeing the scenes of West Berlin of that time period, especially the scene where Erika and Sly go to the observation deck at the checkpoint and look toward East Berlin. The portion of the Berlin Wall that can be seen didn’t have as much graffiti on it as it did by the time it came down in 1989 and the part of East Berlin that can be seen looks frozen in time, with wrecked buildings that made it look like the war had ended yesterday, not thirty years earlier.

A good film and an enjoyable Culp performance!

“Inside Out” is available from the Warner Brothers Archive and also through Amazon.com.