…but picked a pretty damn good movie to make a debut in! Robert Culp made his feature film debut in the Warner Brothers epic “PT-109” which was released this date (June 19) 1963. Personally overseen by Jack Warner himself (after the first director was fired and things were looking dicey), the film took more than a year to complete and runs for over 2 hours in length.
The film depicts the story of John F. Kennedy’s WWII experiences as the skipper of the Patrol Torpedo boat number 109, which was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer in August of 1943. Kennedy (portrayed by Cliff Robertson in the film) lost two of his 13 crew members and managed to lead the others to safety on one of the islands. Culp plays Ensign George Ross, who ended up on the 109 more or less as a hitchhiker, joining Kennedy’s crew after his own boat got shot up.
PT 109 is a very good film and worth the two plus hour running time, and waiting for Culp to show up (about an hour into it).
The fact that Culp is shirtless for portions of this movie is simply a bonus.
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).
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.
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.
I didn’t start mining through the Google newspaper archive until I was doing research for the movie A Name for Evil and now I find myself getting lost looking back through old newspapers. (I’m a history buff anyway). Subsequently, I’ve been digging through looking for whatever I can for whatever Robert Culp movie or tv show I’m writing about next but since I only just started doing this, movies such as Inside Out (and Hannie Caulder) missed out initially.
So, I did a little searching around and found a couple of interesting tidbits for Inside Out. The first being a note in one of Marilyn Beck’s columns from March 19, 1975, saying that Robert Culp took part in a tennis tournament in Berlin during filming of Inside Out. The tournament, held annually, was called “The Divided City Tennis Competition” and Culp’s partner was a US Consul and career CIA political officer, Merron L. Latta. Culp and Mr. Latta defeated their French opponents 9 – 6.
Another tidbit involved not Culp, but Telly Savalas, who endured tabloid garbage from the Daily Mail alleging that during filming he partied all night until 4am, didn’t remember his lines and kept his co-star (James Mason) waiting. Savalas filed a libel suit against the Daily Mail and a year later won, to the tune of $56,700.
Mason, for his part, defended Savalas and paid him compliment in court, talking about how inexperienced people tend to put too much emphasis on learning just the lines, while actors like Savalas exercise a little more creativity with the words and dialogue.
Nowhere in any of the articles I found relating to this was there any comment or quote from Culp, who I imagine kept otherwise busy with the tennis tournament and stayed the hell out of Savalas’s legal issue.
And, of course, I found a few reviews of the movie. Michael Marzella, a staff writer for the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times panned the movie in February of 1976 calling it “dull” and “hollow trash.” He went further to say that after seeing the movie “any jury in the land would convict (the) actors of attempted suspense and recommend no mercy.” For Culp specifically, he noted, “Culp smiles very nicely and usually remembers his lines.”
Ouch. Perhaps Mr. Marzella was just having a bad day?
Another reviewer, Jim Moorhead of The (St. Petersburg, FL ) Evening Independent wasn’t quite as harsh in February of ’76, but he lamented the films’ lack of a clever plot. Despite various faults he found with the movie (the lack of using actual German or Russian dialogue in the scenes involving Germans and/or Russians) he did say the film is “a diverting and amusing evening’s entertainment.”
And the last tidbit I found comes from the North Island Gazette of Port Hardy, British Columbia, where the film was screened in the 16mm format fairly early in the film’s release period (March/April, 1976) due to Warner Brothers apparently deciding not to release Inside Out in the 35mm market. This was apparently significant at the time and the Port Hardy screening was only the second such screening of the movie throughout all of British Columbia (after Vancouver). I’m not all that well versed on the technical aspects of the film world at that time, the difference between American and Canadian releases, nor do I fully understand what the difference is between the 16mm and 35mm market – other than the 16mm was usually screened much later after a film’s release, according to the article. But apparently this was a “minor coup” at the time for 16mm markets. If anyone can comment further on this, please do as I’ll admit I’m curious. The article can be read here.
And one final note, from the same Port Hardy article, while the two reviewers in Florida panned the film, Canadian film critic Michael Walsh described Inside Out as “a completely compentent caper film.” I certainly enjoyed the film and you can check out screen caps and my overview here.
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.
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?
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.
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.