Hickey & Boggs Part of AFI Silver Theatre Film Series

Hickey & Boggs

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, in partnership with The National Building Museum, has been presenting the film series “Overdrive: LA Modern, 1960-2000” which looks at the legacy of Los Angeles architecture and use in film. The series began February 8th and runs through April 17th, 2014 with several films being screened as part of the series, including Robert Culp’s sole big screen directorial effort “Hickey & Boggs” from 1972.

AFI Silver accurately describes the film as a “neo-noir to end all noirs” and recognizes the films broad use of known LA locations, such as the Los Angeles Coliseum and Dodger Stadium, along with street scenes in LA’s core, topless bars, homes with freeways in the front yard and other once fine homes falling off cliffs along the ocean.

The film will be screened Sunday, March 9 at 4:00pm, Monday March 10 at 9:30pm and Tuesday March 11 at 9:15pm. General admission tickets are $12.

The March 9th screening will be introduced by National Building Museum’s assistant curator Deborah Sorensen.

AFI Silver Theatre is located in Silver Spring, MD. For more information check out AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center – Overdrive: L.A. Modern, 1960-2000 and The National Building Museum Event Calendar.


National Lampoon’s Movie Madness


AKA National Lampoon Goes to the Movies

Originally released – straight to video – 1983

**Contains spoilers – You’ll thank me for this**

There’s a reason this movie, originally filmed in 1981, went straight to video in 1983.

It sucks.

Seriously. This thing is bad. And I mean real bad. You know how sometimes a movie can be so bad it’s good? No, no this is not even that. This is clearly what-the-hell-were-they-thinking-and-why-didn’t-they-burn-it BAD.

The premise of the movie is to spoof other typical movie genres. There’s three segments, although apparently the movie was originally supposed to have six. (My God were they kidding?!) The first segment spoofs the personal growth plot line, the second segment (with Culp) spoofs the rags to riches plot line and the third segment spoofs cop movies. I’m only going to tell you about the second segment that Culp was in and not bother with the other two because 1. Culp isn’t in the other segments, 2. I didn’t bother to watch the first segment at all and 3. I have no idea WHY I watched the third but there’s just nothing to say for that one.

The second segment is called “Success Wanters.” Ann Dusenberry plays Dominique Corsair, a recent college graduate who is trying to find a job. She’s not having much luck and must lower herself to taking a job as a burlesque dancer/stripper.

Her first gig is to do a show for a bunch of geezers at a dairy convention. Yes, a dairy convention a concept of which would be ripe for tons of double entendre and innuendo and the best thing the writers could come up with for this curdled milk of a movie? A butter bang.

Please don’t ask me what a butter bang is. The geezers butter bang Dominique leaving her innocence shattered and her completely humiliated. But Dominique isn’t the kind of girl to stay down, oh no. She decides she’s going to get her revenge against the butter bastards by switching to margarine.

She finds her way to the Everest Margarine Company, manages somehow to sneak into this bajillion floor office building and waits in the board room, in her trashed stripper costume, smoking a cigarette. Enter Paul Everest, owner and CEO of Everest Margarine Company played by Robert Culp.

Ok, I’m digging the GQ suit here and attaché. Very nice…

Dominique introduces herself and says she’s been waiting for him. Mr. Everest dismisses Joyce, his secretary (who’s no fool and knows exactly what’s going to happen next). After Joyce leaves, Dominique says she wants to know everything there is to know about margarine. He tells her that margarine is a ruthless industry and is no place for a woman. She tells him that he’s never met a woman like her and proceeds to demonstrate that fact by taking an ice cube from the ice bucket, tracing it seductively around her mouth, placing it in her mouth and then sliding under the table to crawl over to him.

Everest presses the button on his intercom to ask his secretary to hold all his calls. Gee, whatya think’s gonna happen next?! I dunno! Why are they playing “Jaws” like music?!

Everest, meanwhile, is all nonchalant for a guy who knows what he’s about to start his day off with. He continues with his paperwork until we hear *ziiip!* and with a deadpan expression he flicks his fancy pen across the room.

Ok, I chuckled at that. But, ya know, I would have had it that there wasn’t enough clearance and she bangs her head against the table…

You still reading? Really? Ok, well I’ll keep going then…

Next scene is in Hong Kong at an Everest Margarine production facility. Ms. Corsair is still in her trashed stripper costume but she has a nice trench coat. At least, at the outdoor scene here where they first arrive. She’s presented a lovely bouquet of flowers. No, I’m not really sure why.

Inside, she no longer has her trench coat, but still has her flowers. Her voice over (yes, this thing is narrated) says, “The excitement of my introduction to margarine was so thick, you could cut it with a knife…” I think I was supposed to laugh there. I’m sorry I forgot.

Actually, I’m distracted by Culp in that suit. Did I mention Culp looks super smashing in that suit?? Damn…

He extols the amazing story of how what was once a mere byproduct of the lowly ol’ soybean had become “a wholesome and nutritious foodstuff known all over the world. Ideal for all forms of cooking and baking, delicious in sandwiches, perfect for snacks and on toast!”

Damn, I’m sold! I’ll even take the stick he dropped on the floor there as he got all carried away…

He then tells Dominique how someday they’ll find a way to make a margarine that tastes better than butter. She, ever the cheerleader, believes they will. Awww!

On the plane back to Los Angeles, he dictates a memo, which she happily types up for him. He then is distracted by her soft and inviting backside. Woohoo…

He suggests they take a break since it’s been a long day (actually, the entire time span from when she showed up in his board room at about 7 am to this point is only two and half hours.) There’s a kiss and then a presentation of some jewelry. A huge, monstrous, red, blue and white necklace that weighs a ton and nearly causes her to fall out of her chair. (The jewelry is a running joke through the whole segment, as Dominique goes on to collect additional outlandish pieces). After, he calls the pilot with a change in flight plan. Off to St. Tropez…

In St. Tropez they enjoy a private tender loving satin sheeted moment that unfortunately gets spoiled when Everest suffers a massive heart attack. But! All is not lost, because he has papers in his attaché transferring power and presidency of Everest Margarine to Ms. Corsair (that he somehow found time to do up in the previous 3 hours). Before he finally is done in by the “heart attack, massive coronary and a cold” he makes the handover official with his notary seal, which Dominique has to smash his hand on the crimper to make it all legal.

News flash: You can’t notarize your own documents! And when she smacks his hand on the crimper seal – that had to hurt. For real! One of those “ow’s!” from Culp I think was legit.

Yes, that’s Culp under all those satin sheets. Considering how bad this thing is, I’d be hiding my head too.

Dominique goes on to take over the company, romances the son of one of the butter bastards from the start of the segment, encourages said son to kill his father, she turns him in, buys up all of the butter business, ends up marrying a Greek tycoon, gets some more jewelry, sleeps with his son, the Greek tycoon kills his own wife, he then ends up dead (I think he was executed for killing his wife, I can’t really remember) and Dominique inherits a bigger fortune. Then, a German scientist discovers a cure for cancer by having a stick of Dominique’s margarine “radiated” by a color television set. She wins the Nobel Prize. She then schmoozes with the President of the US, sleeps with him, he presents her with some outrageous gold over sized Presidential seal necklace, blah blah and ends up becoming the new First Lady after the current First Lady abdicates her title in favor of the woman she loves.

Ridiculous. But I’m gonna save you from ever having to pay to watch any of this. (I paid $5.24 for the DVD -with FREE shipping! – but it was about $5.24 too much. Seriously, I should have been paid to watch this.) You can watch Culp’s entire bit, beginning to end (all seven or so minutes of it) below.

Please. Don’t thank me.

I can only hope that Culp got a really nice big fat paycheck for what was probably two days’ work for him. Otherwise, I can not fathom why he would have taken this gig. Did he owe somebody a favor? Was he lied to? Blackmailed? I don’t know the answer but I do know that it was a good thing he had The Greatest American Hero to go back to after this!

I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that Culp’s talents were completely wasted here or the fact that Dr. John was equally wasted for the movie’s damn catchy theme song. I mean, seriously, whoever wrote this movie had to be driving that train, high on cocaine. It’s not like National Lampoon didn’t have a precedence. After the surprise success of “Animal House” in 1978, there was quite a bit of anticipation about a follow up film. Media reports noted early in 1981 that the folks at National Lampoon were up to no good again and it seemed the public had some sort of expectation about the end result. The end result, however, was crap. Or, as Shary Flenniken, one of the writers associated with the movie put it, it was “a cocaine fueled fiasco.”

So they were high on cocaine! That explains everything…

Not convinced this movie is as bad as it really is? The movie was tested with an audience in Rhode Island once it was completed. The audience was so appalled and disappointed by what they had seen, they tore up the seats in the theater.

There are a couple of interesting things to note about this movie, however. The director of the “Success Wanters” segment was Bob Giraldi who went on to direct more accolade worthy things like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video.

And Everest’s secretary, Joyce? Is none other than Andy Warhol alum and “Cult Queen” Mary Woronov in what has to be the most non-oddball role she’s ever been cast in.

National Lampoon’s Movie Madness is available on DVD through places like Amazon and such. I’m not putting a link to it though because you don’t need to spend your hard earned money on it. Really. You don’t. The tagline on the DVD says it all: “The film that Hollywood doesn’t want you to see!”

Exactly. Heed the warning.

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…

Hickey & Boggs

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

**Contains spoilers – for the love of Culp, if you haven’t seen this movie STOP READING and go watch it first!**

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?)

The next morning, Hickey meets with a Mr. Rice (Lester Fletcher) on the beach. Mr. Rice made it a point to be sunbathing for this meeting – first thing in the morning. He wants the PIs to find a girl, Mary Jane Bower, whom he hasn’t seen in some time. Rice never really says why he wants to find her, it’s assumed to be romantic connection. Hickey doesn’t really care since Rice is willing to pay $500 as a retainer.

Rice, by the way, spends part of the meeting looking over at the young kids playing on the swings with “bad intent.”

Hickey returns to the office to tell Boggs they’re working. Boggs hardly looks up from his newspaper until he hears how much they got for a retainer. “You think money turns my head?” Boggs asks…as he slooowly turns his head toward Hickey (obviously it must). With a couple of leads to follow, the two PIs head out to try to find Mary Jane.

While this is happening, the local mob is discovering that the money they were originally to get from a bank robbery in Pittsburg about a year earlier, is now floating around LA, looking for a buyer. They know “Quamando’s woman” has the money but they’ll have to do some homework to track her down. Mr. Brill (Robert Mandan) makes some phone calls to get some soldiers to track it down, the soldiers being Tommy Signorelli as the gunman, Nick, Matt Bennett as the muscle, Fatboy, and Bill Hickman as, appropriately, the wheel man, Monte.

The leads from Rice turn up two things, a fresh dead man (who Hickey discovers) and a tidbit that Mary Jane dated a guy by the name of Quamando at one time who went to prison for armed robbery. Prisoner Quamando has a brother who runs a flower shop and when the two PIs meet again at the bar to compare notes, they plan to visit him the next day.

We learn that Al Hickey was once a police officer, having worked out of the Hallenbeck division. (Bogg’s background is never specified). Hickey goes to see Nyona (Rosalind Cash) who he may or may not have been married to, but they were living together – until she threw him out. Nyona has a young daughter who is about the only bright thing in Hickey’s life at the moment. He leaves some coins under the child’s pillow and then has a very short visit with Nyona, whom he hasn’t seen in three weeks. Whatever it was that made her throw him out, she’s still mad at him about.

Mr. Rice, meanwhile, is giving the same information he gave to Hickey to Mr. Brill. I’m not sure if he went to Mr. Brill of his own accord or was asked to be seen or what, but there’s one tidbit he doesn’t give the mob: He claims to not know of Mary Jane Bower.

Boggs, meanwhile, finds comfort and solace in a twenty dollar hooker. At the office. When he leaves the money on her coat, we never actually see her take it. With the dawn breaking over LA, Boggs sits in his chair with a drink and a dry toothbrush. He then brushes his teeth…and so begins a new day.

Fresh as a daisy, Boggs goes to Clifton Farrow’s apartment, the man Hickey found dead. The apartment is still an active crime scene with the LAPD but he fanagles a key to the place from either a neighbor or the landlady (making it sound like he was a cop) and goes in to poke around.

As he pokes around the place, he sees a note about a Rams/Falcons football game in a date book. Boggs helps himself to the day old bacon that’s been sitting on the stove since the man was killed and while in the kitchen, he hears the snap of a mouse trap from under the sink. He opens the cupboard and finds the mouse, releasing it. He then finds a small jewelry box taped to the drain pipe under the sink. Inside the box are two $1000 bills.

Large denomination bills, by the way, were last printed in the 1940s and discontinued by the Federal Reserve in 1969. Although the Fed began removing the bills from circulation, criminals would have still had an interest in them for various illegal transactions, such as the drug or arms trade. As the viewer, we know Mary Jane is trying to unload the cash and she obviously couldn’t spend it on new clothes, not without getting somebody’s attention.

When he’s done snooping through the apartment, Boggs returns the key to a patrolman, claiming he ended up with it by mistake. Mr. Brill’s soldiers, on orders to check out the same leads Hickey and Boggs are following, drive by in their GTO and see the cops hanging around the place which pretty much tells them all they need to know.

Later, Boggs meets up with Hickey at a hot dog stand. Hickey was to check with the florist Quamando brother, but the flower shop was closed. Boggs shows him what he found in Farrow’s apartment. He then says that he tried to call Rice but Rice’s answering service had been shut off with no forwarding number. They each order up a couple of really horrendous looking chili dogs.

They turn what they found over to the police. As is typical, there is no love lost between these two PIs and the police department. Sergent Papadakis (Vincent Gardenia) and Detective Shaw (Jack Colvin) are naturally annoyed that Boggs walked into an active crime scene.

Still, Boggs made a note of what he had found in Farrow’s apartment even though it didn’t seem like it had anything to do with Mary Jane. Along with the two $1000 bills was a note with some names on it and he copied down the names.

From here they go to check with the florist. He says he hasn’t seen Mary Jane in five years or more.

Shut out, Hickey and Boggs regroup outside the florist shop looking at the names Farrow had written down with the two $1000 bills. There was also an address noted which they decide to check on. They drive off just as the torpedoes show up to beat the same information out of the florist.

The address they check is for a hotel, where the room is rented to a Mary Florida. She hasn’t been seen for a few days. For $50 Boggs gets a key to the room and a promise from the receptionist that she would phone them if any heat shows up.

The room is sparse but Boggs finds an envelope in a drawer with the same Rams/Falcons seat numbers written on it as was found in Farrow’s apartment. The mob torpedoes then show up and the two PIs go out the window to the fire escape before the thugs arrive, with Hickey hanging on a drain pipe and Boggs trying to bust in to another room from the fire escape. The torpedoes, meanwhile, are tearing the hotel room apart. Fatboy can’t find anything productive to do so he finds a doll and proceeds to tear that apart. (Makes you wonder what he’d do to a woman. Eeeeyah…)

Hickey keeps hanging on to the drain pipe despite Boggs telling him to come on and sees Fatboy rip apart the doll. When Fatboy goes to look out the window and puts his hand on the windowsill, Hickey pushes the window down with his foot and crushes Fatboy’s hand.

The two PIs crash through another room’s window and run like hell (for the most part. Culp can’t run worth a damn here and even goes tumbling down the bottom of the stairs. But there’s a reason for that. Stay tuned). When they get outside, Boggs grabs his “out of order” paper bag off the parking meter and runs to the back of the torpedoes GTO. He stuffs the bag in the gas cap and lights it. He and Hickey take off as the torpedoes come out of the building and start shooting at them….and the GTO blows sky high.

The next morning, Hickey comes into the office with the mail. They get a letter from Rice, taking them off the case. Boggs assumes Rice found Mary Jane, but Hickey doesn’t think so (and the letter doesn’t specify). Considering the heat they had on them at the hotel, Hickey figures Rice was scared off. Hickey’s not about to be scared off and he pulls out his gun and starts loading. Boggs joins him, after reinforcing himself with a shot of booze first. But he asks Hickey if he really wants to go to this point. It may be better for them to just run.

Nope. Hickey isn’t running. And as such, neither is Boggs. “Yes, sir, I like your style…” he says after Hickey leaves to go see the florist again.

The thing about this part that I don’t get is why Boggs discouraged Hickey from wearing the shoulder holster. It’s gotta be a pain in the rear to have to lug around a .44 wrapped up in a towel or a newspaper under your arm. The only thing I can think of is it was too “cop like” to wear the holster.

When Hickey gets to the florist shop, he finds Quamando is dead.

The police, meantime, have run a trace on the two $1000 bills found in Farrow’s apartment. Turns out they were part of a bank robbery in Pittsburg the previous winter. Over $400,000 was stolen. Three guards were killed along with three of the robbers. The driver got away but then he was found dead later, the money and his girlfriend missing.

The girlfriend was never identified.

The police have Hickey and Boggs brought in because the recent deaths keep tying back to this money. Come to find out there’s a reward out for the recovery of the money: $25,000. This gets the boys attention.

Back at the bar, Hickey is running over everything again figuring Mary Jane was the girlfriend and is trying to unload the money. Boggs tells him not to worry about that now and that they were going to the football game the next day. Hickey doesn’t care about going to any football game. “We’re looking for Mary Jane Bower, not Roman Gabriel. Twenty-five thousand dollars…” Undeterred, Boggs asks what kind of odds Hickey wants. “On the Rams?” Hickey asks.

“On Mary Jane being at the ball game.”

They go to the game (and somehow got in as ushers) but Mary Jane doesn’t show. The wait around until the stadium clears out. The note Boggs found in Mary Jane’s hotel room matched what Farrow had on his date book: Rams – Falcons + 1. And three seats specified. After some thought, they figure that the plus 1 might be plus one day.

The next day, they go back to the Coliseum (with guns wrapped in towels and newspapers – seriously fellas, holsters woulda been more practical!). Boggs has scratched a new name on the copy of the note from Farrow’s apartment – Edith – with a phone number. His ex-wife who’s been dumped by some boyfriend in Westwood with a bigger house and has crawled back to Frank wanting help. Hickey’s raised eyebrow is commentary enough.

Inside the Coliseum, they wait in the tunnels for Mary Jane to show up. They’re not the only ones lying in wait, the torpedoes are waiting too. Mary Jane shows up, as does the bag man she was going to deal with, but she spots not only Boggs at the entrance to one of the tunnels, she sees one of the torpedoes. She stays in the shadows of another tunnel, while the bag man waits in the seat in the stands for about five minutes. When Mary Jane doesn’t show, he gets up to leave.

Hickey and Boggs chase after him…well, Hickey chases after him as Boggs drops back because he can’t run worth a damn…only for the bagman to get blown away by Nick. Our fearless PIs end up in a shootout with Nick, Fatboy gets the bag man’s brief case of cash and the torpedoes make their getaway, but not before Boggs puts a bullet in the back window of their car. (Best shot of Culp in the whole movie.)

 Meantime, Prisoner Quamando is released on parole. Mary Jane isn’t just his girlfriend, she’s his wife and they have two children (one of whom is played by Jason Culp).

The police are less than enthused about the shootout at the Coliseum. Papadakis blows his stack and Lt. Wyatt (James Woods) warns the two PIs that he’ll basically put them out of business if this escalates further.

The two PIs press on though, as Bogg’s eloquently puts it, “We gotta find that bitch before they do.” They go over the names Farrow had on the note that was with the money Boggs found originally. The addresses for these people Farrow did not write down, so the phone book provides the answer and another hot dog break.

When he goes to see Eleana Cole, Boggs doesn’t know it but he ends up face to face with Rice, the guy who had hired him and Hickey to begin with. He asks to see Mrs. Cole to talk about Clifton Farrow and Mary Jane Bower. He’s brought in to see what turns out to be Mr. Leroy (another name on Farrow’s note), a black revolutionary.

They meet on the back patio of the house that faces the ocean. Yes, it is really hanging precariously off a cliff!

While Boggs is doing that, Hickey is back at the office where he gets a phone call from Mary Jane. Mary Jane also phones Mr. Brill and contacts Rice to make a deal. Boggs finds out about the phone call when he gets back to the office, where he loads up on booze and a cigarette. Culp is not at his prettiest here (nor is he supposed to be.)

The meeting with Mary Jane is to take place in Parking Lot 32 of Dodger Stadium. Hickey and Boggs are waiting, as are the torpedoes. A man in drag shows up (this is the guy Rice sent – in drag on purpose). Hickey and Boggs think they have Mary Jane. So do the torpedoes who come barreling out of the dark and start shooting. The man in drag goes down. Bogg’s car ends up getting blown up (“500 cars in the lot and the bastards blow up mine!”). Hickey, however, nails Nick and the torpedoes get away.

The man in drag turns out to be one of the leads they couldn’t find, a guy named Bledsoe. Hickey then realizes that they were set up.

The police are at their limit now. Lt. Wyatt  is ready to pull their ticket and put them out of business. They’re facing charges now (witholding evidence, abetting felonious conduct) and their lawyer can’t offer much help. As they walk out of the PIs office and down the hall, Hickey stops at one point and says “I dunno…” and as if on cue there’s the sound of a toilet flushing in the background. Appropriate, since that’s about where these two are at.

Hickey figures it’s time to get out of the PI business. “It’s not about anything,” he tells Boggs.

“Yeah it is. It’s about four hundred grand…” More than that, it was about $25,000 – money both of them needed pretty badly.

While things are looking pretty dire on the professional level, with either the cops or the mob going to bury them, Hickey seems to be improving his relationship with Nyona on a personal level. It would be the last bright spot for him, however. The only bright spot Frank has is to see his ex-wife Edith (who he still pines for) back at her old job – as a stripper. She was previously barred from this particular club but the guy owed Frank a favor, so Edith was hired back. This allows Frank to basically be tortured by watching her dance.

Hickey lets it go for about a minute and then yanks Frank out of the place by the arm. Edith expresses her insincere thanks. “Kill yourself.”

Out on the street, Hickey and Boggs have to pick up the pieces. Boggs decides to check up on the Prisoner Quamando. Hickey says he’ll go back to the house at the beach (Mrs. Cole) and see what more he can find out. Frank also has to get himself another set of wheels.

Not only does Frank find another set of wheels, he finds another damn blue T-bird. And no, I don’t know what the point was of pulling the door latch was all about. He doesn’t kick the tires. He doesn’t even test drive the thing. He takes it, as is. Even the car dealer is surprised (and no, it’s not Cal Worthington – whose commercials can be heard on the tv in the bar scenes).

Hickey, meanwhile, goes back to Mrs. Cole’s house only to find it literally has fallen off the cliff!

Frank returns home with his new T-bird (which he looks back at as he walks to his front door – don’t we all do that with a new car?) only to find his house has been broken in to. He calls Hickey to warn him that the torpedoes might be on their way to his place (note the interstate running through Bogg’s front yard as he’s talking on the phone.) But the torpedoes have already been at Hickey’s place. Nyona, who was finally starting to thaw to Hickey and had been at his place, was in the wrong place at the wrong time…

This is where Culp’s directing style is unique. We don’t see what happened to Nyona. We don’t even see all of her on the screen. We don’t have to. Earlier in the film we saw Fatboy tear apart a doll. Here we see the blood splatters on her legs, the electrical cord and the two by four wrapped around one leg… Only a moron would stop and whisper to the person next to them in the theatre and asks “what happened to her?”

Hickey is devastated by what happened. One of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie is Hickey sitting on the front steps of Nyona’s house, while her little girl mindlessly goes back and forth on the small patch of lawn with a push mower. They don’t say a word to each other but there’s some kind of consolation going on. The child means a lot to Hickey and we’re pretty sure that Hickey had come to fill a void in the little girl’s life for a father. But then Nyona’s mother (played by Isabelle Sanford) spots him sitting there and comes out of the house and rips into him, basically blaming him for Nyona’s death. As she’s yelling at Hickey, calling him a no good rotten son of a bitch, the little girl stops pushing the mower and just crumbles to the ground.

As the grandmother consoles the little girl, Hickey can only watch heartbroken. Behind him, traffic on the freeway whizzes by, oblivious.

Hickey is pretty much stone faced when Boggs meets up with him at the bar again. Boggs found out that the Prisoner Quamando was paroled a couple of days before and that his wife’s name is Mary Florida Quamando. Bingo. He got their address too and is ready to go. He figures Hickey wants to get the torpedoes, if they find the woman, the torpedoes wouldn’t be far behind. But Hickey just sits there.

Boggs runs the gamut, first trying to get Hickey to move, then admonishing him for quitting, then joining him for a drink, then getting really pissed reminding Hickey of his speechify earlier about how Frank couldn’t go bad now because of some woman he couldn’t get over. Boggs is a little callous here as his ex-wife hadn’t been killed but…

Frank then declares he’s going to go after that $25,000 reward and he up and leaves the bar, but he doesn’t go far. After a moment, he comes back and he tells Hickey that he can’t bring Nyona back and he can’t make up for what he missed. The only thing he could do was to even things up. Make things right.

On that note, Boggs starts to leave again but he pauses. He’s really not going to go without his friend and partner and when he looks back to see where Hickey is at, Hickey is following after him.

They go see Quamando and manage to get into the middle of things just as Quamando is about to go through with a deal with Rice and Mr. Leroy. By this point the pieces have all come together. Quamando worked for the LA mob and Mary Jane had got the money in Pittsburgh and brought it back to LA. But he went to prison and instead of delivering the money to the mob in LA, Mary Jane sat on it for a while before looking for a buyer – with a better deal than the mob. She originally had a deal with Farrow but he wanted a bigger cut which was why he was taken out of the equation completely. But as soon as she started putting the money out on the street, the mob got tipped off and the pressure was on. Quamando goes to the mob looking “to come home” but they want him to collect another bonus. So they tell him to go through with the deal with Rice and Mr. Leroy.

The mob, however, have one more trick up their sleeve.

Quamando brings the two PIs with him when he meets with Rice and Mr. Leroy. They drive on to the beach where they’ll meet up with Mary Jane, who will have the money with her.

Mary Jane arrives by plane (earlier in the film, when Hickey and Boggs are looking in her hotel room, there are pictures of small aircraft on her wall) and lands on the beach. She hands the suitcase of money to Quamando who turns and throws it into the sand at Rice and Mr. Leroy. He doesn’t even take their bag of money in return. He takes Mary Jane by the hand and starts to walk her back to the plane.

Over the cliff along the beach, however, comes a helicopter with Mr. Brill’s soldiers in it.

A shootout ensues. Rice goes down, Mr. Leroy had a couple of his boys riding in the trunk of the Rolls and he pulls them out but they’re no match for the mobsters in the chopper. They’re cut down in the sand. Mr. Leroy tries hiding in the trunk of the Rolls himself, but the bullets from the mobster automatic rifle cuts holes into the car and the trunk.

While this is happening, Mary Jane and Quamando are turning the plane around on the beach. The chopper hovers back over to them and the gunman hesitates for a moment. Just when you think they might be spared, they’re not. In a cloud of dust kicked up by the chopper we hear the gun fire and when the dust clears, Mary Jane and Quamando are dead.

This is another part where Culp’s directing is unique. I actually felt sorry for these two when I shouldn’t have. I mean, Mary Jane blew a guy away earlier in the film. Yet the death of these two characters wasn’t at all satisfying in terms of any justice served.

When the mob soldiers think they’ve got everybody taken care of, they drop Fatboy down to the beach to pick up the both the $400,000 suitcase and the paper bag of money from the deal, the “bonus.” Fatboy no more than picks up the suitcase when suddenly there’s thunder from Bogg’s .44.

An intense shootout takes place between the heavies and the PIs. Mr. Leroy’s Rolls Royce and Quamando’s Firebird get shot full of holes but essentially protect Hickey and Boggs against the automatic rifle of the mob gunman. They get a break when the rifle jams and Boggs, who earlier in the movie complained that he needed a bigger gun because he couldn’t hit nothing, nails the gunman in the chopper. The force of the hit sends the gunman into the lap of Monte who is piloting the chopper and Monte can’t keep the bird in the air. The chopper crashes down to the beach.

Monte is still alive but he can’t get the dead weight of the gunman off of him to climb out of the wreckage of the now burning chopper. Fatboy tries to move in closer to help but the flames consume the remains of the bird and it blows up.

Fatboy is the last man standing against the PIs. He pulls on a piece of the chopper literally fighting with it before it comes loose. Hickey and Boggs just watch him and when he has it loose he turns to them. Neither PI feels particular threatened by Fatboy. (I think Fatboy knows he’s a goner anyway). Hickey’s gun is empty so Bogg’s hands over his .44. With what turns out to be Bogg’s last bullet, Hickey takes Fatboy down.

And the movie ends with so much death and carnage…and nobody showed up. The beach was empty and even when we see a shot of the other end of the beach (where there are some people!) apparently nobody dared even pay attention to what was going on. How could they not? There were about as many bullets flying on this beach as there was at Normandy. And with the plane and the helicopter…nobody noticed?!?!

Anyway, Hickey and Boggs got to the end of it with their lives and this time they got the bag money. The stolen $400,000 in the suitcase is left on the beach and the two PIs walk off into the sunset…they’re own futures perhaps not to be much longer.



My additional commentary will be in a separate post, but I did want to note the various cast members of this film, all of whom were excellent.

Robert Mandan (Mr. Brill) – Played Chester Tate on Soap and showed up a several times on Cannon, Maude, The Love Boat, Barnaby Jones and Santa Barbara.  Also had a recurring role on Three’s Company (and Three’s a Crowd) and the short-lived Private Benjamin.

Michael Moriarty (Ballard – Brill’s right hand man) –  Known for his role as Executive A.D.A Ben Stone on Law & Order and also appeared Bang the Drum Slowly and in Clint Eastwood’s 1985 western Pale Rider. One of Moriarty’s earliest film roles is Hickey & Boggs.

Tommy Signorelli (Nick) – Had minor roles in films such as Kelly’s Heroes, Theif, Dick Tracy and Bang the Drum Slowly (with Michael Morairty and Vincent Gardenia).

Matt Bennett (Fatboy) – Had minor roles in only a handful of films and tv appearances in the ’70s, including the off beat film Dinah East, an episode of Starsky & Hutch, and the 1978 tv mini-series How the West Was Won.

Bill Hickman (Monte) – Actor/stunt driver best known for being the wheelman that drives the black Dodge Charger in Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, and did the driving stunts for The French Connection and The Seven-Ups. Hickman would appear with Culp again (uncredited) in “The Enforcers,” the first episode for the short lived Shaft tv series in 1973.

Lou Frizzell (lawyer). Character actor with several credits, including the 1971 film Duel, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones. Some descriptions of Hickey & Boggs credit him as the man that hires the two detectives. This is incorrect. He’s their lawyer, who tells them that he’s “a lawyer, not a magician” when it comes to trying to get them out from under the charges they face after the Dodger Stadium incident.

Lester Fletcher  (Mr. Rice) – This is the guy that hires the PIs. Character actor often cast as a fashion designer, he had various credits, including the 1961 film Operation Eichmann (with future Hogan’s Heroes stars Werner Klemperer and John Banner), and appearances on such shows as The Doris Day Show, The Rockford Files and The Streets of San Francisco.

Ed Lauter (in a bit part here as Ted, the patrolman that Boggs gives the key to) – Veteran actor easily recognizable as he’s had a plethora of roles in film and television throughout his career. Also known as Captain Knauer in the original  The Longest Yard and had a recurring role as Captain/Sheriff John Sebastian on The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo and BJ and the Bear. He and Culp would cross paths again in the 1996 Olivier Gruner action flick Mercenary.

Vincent Gardenia (Sgt. Papadakis) – Previously appeared with Culp and Cosby on an I Spy episode “Get Thee to  a Nunnery” and work with Culp again on the 1980 miniseries The Dream Merchants. He had a recurring role in All in the Family as Frank Lorenzo and also known for his role as Detective Frank Ochoa in Charles Bronson’s Death Wish II and as Cher’s dad in 1987’s Moonstruck.

Jack Colvin (Detective Shaw) – Best remembered as investigative reporter Jack McGee who chased after The Incredible Hulk for five seasons on CBS, Colvin also had roles on The Six Million Dollar Man, Kojak and The Rockford Files.

James Woods (Lt Wyatt) – Hugely successful actor whose career has spanned the past 40 years, one of Wood’s earliest film roles was here.

Isabel Sanford (Nyona’s mother) – Best remembered as Louise Jefferson on the The Jeffersons, Isabel made her film debut in 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Rosalind Cash (Nyona) – Prolific actress with many film and television roles including The Omega Man, Uptown Saturday Night and television appearances on Kojak, Starsky & Hutch, The Cosby Show and A Different World.

Prisoner Quamando and Mary Jane Bower – were played by real life husband and wife Louis and Carmenchristina Moreno.

Two final cast notes, Roger E. Mosley (T.C. on Magnum PI, Coach Ricketts on Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper) has an uncredited role as one of the black revolutionaries and Robert Culp’s son, Jason, is seen as Quamando’s son.

You can view the trailer for the film here.


DVD Release: Sky Riders

I’ve just discovered that Shout! Factory (a descendant of the old Rhino records company) will be launching an official release for the 1976 film “Sky Riders” tomorrow (January 17)! The film is part of a double feature set with another James Coburn film, “The Last Hard Men.”

As regular readers know I did my capapalooza write up for Sky Riders previously based on a copy of the film obtained from Modcinema.com. With this official release, the film is no longer available at Modcinema.

My screen caps can attest that the copy from Modcinema was pretty decent, all things considered. But Sky Riders was originally released in wide screen format, as the opening titles and first scene show.

After that, the film is “formatted for television” and there are a couple of scenes in the film that look odd with having been cropped, such as this one where the actors seem to be standing so far apart.

But since Culp looked sooo good looking so worried in this film, it’ll be great to see it in its original wide screen format and with re-mastered clearer picture. So let me give a big shout out to Shout! Factory for releasing this one!

Shout! Factory’s Action Double Feature: The Last Hard Men / Sky Riders  is available for pre-order at Amazon.com. (Disclosure: If you purchase through the provided link, I receive compensation. Click here for details.)