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.
There’s a reason this movie, originally filmed in 1981, went straight to video in 1983.
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. The first segment spoofs the personal growth plotline, the second segment (with Culp) spoofs the soap opera style plotline 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…
Why yes! More! Another set of negatives from the SFX Archive and this time we had some international drama!
Well, maybe not exactly drama but I did suffer a bit of an upset when I was outbid on this set of negatives of Culp with Natalie Wood.
Oh yeah, I was bummed to miss on those, definitely. At the time I didn’t know who outbid me but in doing some detective work later, near as I can tell, the winner is a Natalie Wood fan in France (based on their other auction wins), to which I extend my heartfelt congratulations and hope the negatives are well cared for. (But winning bidder, if you ever decide you want to sell them just give me a shout!)
I did win this lot of negatives, however…
When I logged into eBay to check on the outcome of the auctions, I noticed there were more negatives available – but these didn’t come up when I did a search for “robert culp” in the SFX Archive’s eBay store. I then searched “bob carol ted alice” and got a boatload of results. Among them, were these…
I didn’t have to bid. I love the “Buy it Now” option!
This makes the third batch of negatives I’ve acquired (check out the ones that got away, the first set and the second set that I purchased.) There are additional negatives still available but I have to concede that the prices each time have gone up significantly. Those Holy Grail 33 negatives I blew off? They went for less than $20 if I recall right. This latest set I obtained, the auction win was around $29. The buy it now set I paid over $50 for.
And here they are as developed into photographs. And I got the photos on CD again too (told you, I got this down to a science now!)
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…
Originally released, September 20 (limited)/October 4 (nationwide), 1972
Robert Culp plays Frank Boggs who, along with Bill Cosby’s Al Hickey, is a down trodden gotta-reach-up-just-to-touch-the bottom of the barrel private investigator. Hickey and Boggs work out of an old office building somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, where the bright California sun does little to make their world any more cheerful. They’re old school PIs who are trying to hang on in a business that’s been pretty much legislated out of existence by the State of California.
These guys have hardly anything. They don’t have enough money to pay all their bills (but do manage to scrounge enough for drinks at the local bar), they drive junk cars, wear old suits and both have marriages/relationships that have busted apart.
Yet, they keep moving, not exactly forward but moving. And this is where the movie opens. They’re at the bar, having a few drinks, watching the boxing match on the tv. During the commercial break they talk finances. They don’t have enough money to pay both their phone service and the answering service, so Hickey only paid for the answering service. Boggs offers to borrower against his house, which I take based on Hickey’s reaction there’s not a lot of equity left in the place.
In order to check their messages and return phone calls, they’re reduced to using the payphones outside of the bar. One of the messages is for an appointment the next morning which Hickey has to make because Boggs decides he’s going into the tank. (Can you get any lower than this?)
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!
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.
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.
Okay, this will probably bring in some interesting Google search results but I had to comment on this. Last week, Newsweek had an article about male nudity in film and how it seems to be happening more and more nowadays (and beyond film, now “showing” on stage productions and even television.) The article does mention how various A-list actors over the years have bared all in a movie, so it’s not like this is anything new but my first thought was how Robert Culp pushed that envelope himself in the movie “A Name for Evil” over 40 years ago. What I don’t know is if it was at all noted or realized at the time. The movie technically was never finished and was edited together and released three years later to hardly any notice. It seems that, in recent memory at least, any time an actor or actress bares all in a film, it’s all over the entertainment news. (Anne Hathaway anyone?)
As cosmic timing would have it, I’ve recently completed what will be this month’s mega screen cap post which will be for “A Name for Evil.” Look for it next week!