Prior to watching the dreadful National Lampoon’s Movie Madness I had discovered that the TV movie The Blue Lightning from 1986 was given a proper DVD release earlier this year (2013). I had seen a few clips of Culp from this one on YouTube and, of course, loved the aviators, the Irish accent and the riding boots. I hoped to find the movie to see the whole thing some day.
I was very glad to find it on DVD and had watched it just before seeing the National Lampoon movie. To set things right in my world I figured to go back and wipe the memory of National Lampoon from my mind and take a look at The Blue Lightning again.
Besides, I needed to do some screen caps y’know…
The movie opens in Opal Ridge, Australia where Quinton McQueen is tied to a tree and is about to be left for dead by Lester McInally (Culp). (Lester’s last name, to note, is pronounced two different ways in this movie; the Australian pronunciation sounds like “McKinley” while the American way is like it’s spelled, Mac-In-Ally.) Quinton pleads to not be left tied to the tree where the wild dogs would get to him and eat him alive. One of McInally’s thugs, Mr. Words, asks for McInally to show some mercy. After some thought, McInally agrees and as Mr. Words starts for the tree to untie McQueen, McInally pulls his gun and shoots McQueen, killing him. “There,” he says to Words, “we’ve saved him from the dingos…”
(Clip courtesy of FedKidCounselor)
Hell of an intro for Culp’s character! And he’s just as merciless through the rest of the movie.
Essentially The Dukes of Hazzard for the drag racing set, this made for tv movie originally was broadcast on May 25, 1979. Culp is TL Munn, root beer king and corrupt town boss, who’s looking to get in big with drag racing by sponsoring a major nationals event. Not only does he hope to cash in, he intends for his son to win the race, if not for this out of town kid who comes in (Gregg Henry).
This movie features some great hot rods and (now) classic cars, great drag racing, 50’s rock and roll music and Culp sporting some very wide shirt collars.
At least he only wore one gold chain and not ten of them.
Since I’m partial to Bill Maxwell and his grey suit, I actually dig Mr. Munn’s grey suit here…only because I think it’s the same grey suit!
Culp himself does not hot rod in this movie, but does drive a horrifically painted Caddy. Nonetheless, I enjoy this movie and have watched it several times (I’m a car nut anyway).
In this first clip, TL is trying to film a commercial for the Munn’s Root Beer Nationals but gets interrupted by the shenanigans of the hot rodders and rock n’ rollers.
Companion clip to the one above, out of towner Brian Addison (Greg Henry) does his part to stir up a little trouble and the rock n’ rollers are still doing their thing. Fed up, Munn tells the disc jockey to get lost.
Later in the film, when all of Munn’s attempts at harassment don’t keep Brian from running in the races, TL basically tries to buy him off. That doesn’t work either.
Happy Fat Tuesday! If you can’t get to New Orleans, here’s a chance to bring a bit of New Orleans to you by way of this great 1964 TV movie “The Hanged Man” starring Robert Culp and Vera Miles. A little dirty labor union politics, murder, lies, extortion, double crossing….it’s all here. With Mardi Gras as the backdrop. Culp is FANTASTIC in this. Check it out! (Thanks Amaryllis!). The TV Movie as we would know it by the 70s and 80s was just coming into being by 1964 with this, the second such film aired.
NBC Movie of the Week, Originally aired May 21, 1977
One of the last gems I found on YouTube in the ‘08/’09 period was this tv pilot which I thoroughly enjoyed. As a more casual Star Trek fan I was also intrigued by the fact that this was created and written by Gene Roddenberry and it’s unfortunate it didn’t make into a series.
Robert Culp plays William Sebastian, a brilliant and well known criminologist who has been dabbling in and researching the occult. His theory is that the more heinous murders committed by humans that had no definable logic in motive must have been committed due to other more powerful and unseen forces. As a result of his flirtations with the dark side and backing out of a deal with the devil, he has just one minor problem: He has a hole in his heart, like a dagger or some object has been shoved through it.
A little healing black magic from his housekeeper, Lillith (Mrs. Gene Roddenberry – Majel Barrett), Sebastian is able to continue to live and walk around. But the spell does not offer a permanent fix. Sebastian has to find the doll that the object is impaled in.
He has been asked to look into a case in England at the request of Anitra Cyon (Ann Bell), who believes her brother, Geoffrey (James Villiers), is under the influence of evil supernatural forces which has contributed to his sudden and extensive wealth. In order to proceed with the case, Sebastian will need help from his former partner, Dr. “Hamm” Hamilton (Gig Young.) The movie opens with Hamm’s arrival at Sebastian’s home – having been requested there by telegram – and this great voice over to set the tone for the movie.
“I come here to meet a man I vowed never to see again. He was vain, arrogant, selfish, but his brilliance was still irresistible. He was also dangerous – never to me – but this evening began for both of us, a slide into horrors unimaginable, a descent into a corner of hell….”
Sebastian explains about the hole in his heart and asks for Hamm’s help with the case in England. Initially Hamm says no, after all, he has some issues of his own going on including a more than casual drinking habit and is facing an inquiry by the hospital he works for. He reconsiders after learning about Sebastian’s condition but suggests that Sebastian didn’t need a compulsive drinker as an assistant. The good doctor’s drinking habits, however, were corrected by Lilith.
Back in 2008, when I found the I Spy episodes, Greatest American Hero video, the Get Smartclip and a couple other gems on YouTube, I found a “trailer” of sorts for this 1973 made-for-tv movie. The video has since been removed from YouTube, but it was a collection of scenes from the movie, including parts of the ending where Culp goes “calmly ballistic” and smashes the hell out of whatever he can with his pickup truck and baseball bat. After seeing the clip and reading a little bit more about the movie, I knew I had to find it just so I could watch him go berserk and cheer him on. I love old/classic cars but the kids in this film looked like a bunch of real pieces of —-.
Turns out, I was right.
I eventually did find the film at a wonderful website called modcinema.com, which specializes in rare and hard to find 60s and 70s feature films and made-for-tv movies. The copy is good, but the viewer should be aware that it is not a remastered film. Capping this thing proved challenging and there were some shots I could not get that were very clear.
The events in this movie were based on an actual incident that occurred. Culp plays Dr. Jim Kiler, a veterinarian, who lives with his wife and children in an affluent gated community called “Oak Meadows” in California. Unfortunately, some of the residents of the community include some spoiled and bored rich kids who have nothing better to do with their time than tear around in their hotrods harassing the neighborhood. The movie opens with the boys dumping a truck full of junk and garbage into the swimming pool of an older woman who lives in the neighborhood.
When the kids’s drag racing spooks the horses Jim and his family are riding, Jim and his wife, Muriel (Marlyn Mason) decide to start a petition to install speed bumps and stop signs in the neighborhood. And things begin to escalate from there.