Hannie Caulder

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

**Contains spoilers**

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.

Hannie has only one thing on her mind and that’s to find the three outlaws that killed her husband and raped her and kill them. Problem is, she doesn’t know how to shoot a gun. Curious of her own skill she sets up some old bottles on the fence and takes Thomas’s gun for some target practice.

She’s a terrible shot and she’s startled when the bottles and glasses start smashing off the fence suddenly. She turns to see it is Thomas. He asks for his gun back from her, which she gives him. He then back hand slaps her knocking her to the ground.

With the formalities now out of the way, more significant dialogue begins. Hannie wants to learn how to shoot a gun. Thomas figures her problem has something to do with her husband running off. It doesn’t, she tells him, but she doesn’t elaborate further. Thomas, not much interested in whatever problem Hannie has, declines helping her learn to shoot a gun. Even after she offers to “make it worth his while” and we’re not talking cash, he still says no. He finally gets the water he wanted for himself and his horses and he saddles up and rides off.

Hannie follows him on foot. At one point he pauses, offers her a hat and his canteen. The answer as to helping her shoot a gun, however, is still no.

Hannie’s persistent. When he stops to camp, she fixes and offers him a drink (I’m assuming it’s coffee). He still says no.

When she’s asleep, Thomas hears her cry out from her nightmare – reliving the awful rape. Knowing now what’s happened, he asks her simply how many there were. She tells him and also tells how they killed her husband as well. After hearing this, Thomas decides to help her. Before they ride off, he hands her a pair of pants to put on, since all she wears is a blanket.

They ride off, their destination Mexico. Before getting there, they stop in a town for Thomas to drop off his dead outlaw and collect his bounty money. He then gives Hannie some money to go buy some boots and pants for herself, as she’d need them with the long ride ahead of them while he went to the saloon for a while.

After getting herself some pants (which were too big and she had to take a bath with them on to shrink them up) and washing Thomas’s pants for him, Hannie heads over to the saloon. Thomas is playing poker with some guys and as soon as she speaks his name, one of the poker players tenses up. (No, there’s no formal introductions when ya sit down to a poker game in the Old West or so I learned from watching enough Maverick episodes).

Once the poker player figures out who Thomas is, there’s a tense moment at the table. Thomas still holds his playing cards in hand, the pants Hannie brought back are draped over his arm and he gently pushes Hannie back from the table. When the other poker player attempts to draw his gun, Thomas tips the table upward and shoots the other man down. The playing cards still in his hand, the pants still draped over his arm. The cards get thrown to the floor and the pants get tossed back to Hannie.

Having already dropped one dead man with a price on his head to the Sheriff earlier, Thomas carries the man he just killed over to the Sheriff to collect another bounty. Earlier, Hannie had talked to the Sheriff asking about the Clemmons brothers and the Sheriff had been a little fresh toward Hannie. Now seeing her with Thomas, who literally left the Sheriff shaking in his boots, the Sheriff’s attitude is all conciliatory.

Having done their part to clean up the town, Thomas and Hannie ride out to Mexico. On the way there, he tells her a little about the gunsmith they’re going to see.

In Mexico, Hannie meets Bailey who will craft a gun for her special. While Bailey is crafting the gun, Thomas has Hannie do some exercises to build up the strength in her hands and arms for handling the piece. There’s also a hesitant attraction budding between Thomas and Hannie which shows as Thomas watches Hannie playing with Bailey’s kids on the beach.

Finally, the gun is ready and Bailey presents it to Hannie. Immediately she learns rule number one: Don’t ever pull the trigger unless you’re aiming at something, even if the gun is empty.

And so begins the lessons to learn how to shoot. Thomas is a serious instructor, a reminder of the fact that what he’s teaching is Hannie is serious, life and death stuff. It is not to be taken lightly.

We have a break in the lessons for another tender moment, as the two walk along the beach. This is about as romantic as the movie allows, considering its subject matter. It’s also the only change of wardrobe for Hannie, other than what we see her in when she first appears on the screen. This is significant, as Hannie has suffered from a brutal act by a man (three men in her particular case) but appears willing to trust Thomas and still desires to feel like a woman. Earlier in the film, when Thomas and Bailey are talking about her, Thomas says that “she wants to be a man.” Bailey responds that she’ll never make it. Despite the revenge she seeks, she’s still a woman and taking Thomas by the hand, is the reminder of that.

The next scene is Hannie watching Thomas on the beach, goofing around with Bailey’s kids for a bit. The tranquil moment doesn’t last long, however, as a group of a Mexican bandits ride up to Bailey’s place. Thomas puts his gun belt on and tells the kids to scoot back to the house. He then makes his way carefully up the beach to the house and tells Hannie one word, “Winchester.”

While Bailey is talking to the leader of the pack, Hannie gets the Winchester rifle and Thomas takes up a position near one of the open doorways. Several bandits have spread out to surround the house. The situation doesn’t look good.

It’s not long before a shootout ensues. The Winchester ends up with Bailey and with Hannie and Thomas it helps even up the odds. But at one point when Hannie is face to face with one of the gun men she shoots to wound. When the gun man continues to approach her, likely to shoot, Thomas is yelling for her shoot again. But she can’t do it. Thomas shoots the man down and can only shake his head for Hannie.

After this, Hannie and Thomas take their leave and ride back into the US to track down the Clemmons brothers. They stop in a town and learn that the Clemmons were expected in town that day. At the hotel, Thomas tries to convince Hannie to give up the whole thing but she won’t. Or rather, she can’t, as she tells him. They have a falling out and Hannie hands Thomas his hat, telling him to leave, that she doesn’t need him anymore. Thomas tells her she’s a terrible liar and leaves the room. Hannie knows he’s right.

Outside of the hotel Thomas doesn’t get on his horse and just ride away. He hangs around, watching the town, drinking his liquor. He then sees the Clemmons brothers ride into town. Two of them head for the saloon while one, Frank, goes to the bathhouse.

With Frank’s wanted poster in hand, Thomas crosses the street and confronts Frank after he exits the bathhouse. Before he can walk Frank over to the Sheriff’s office, the other two brothers come out of the saloon up the street and see what’s going on. Frank turns to look which prompts Thomas to turn, gun in hand to fire at the two brothers at the saloon door. One of the brothers throws a knife at Thomas…and hits him directly in the abdomen.

Hannie witnesses the whole thing from the hotel window and rushes across the street to where Thomas has collapsed on the boardwalk. He’s still alive and asks Hannie to get him out of there. Some townsmen carry Thomas back to the hotel.

In the hotel room it’s only a matter of time. Thomas’s wound is fatal. She tells him that he was right, about her being a rotten liar. He says she’s rotten with a gun too. With his strength fading quickly, he warns her that they (the Clemmons) would kill her and asks her to promise him…something. He never finishes what he’s saying. The best guess is he was to ask her to promise not to get killed. Or he was going to ask her to promise not to go through the damn thing at all.

From this point, Hannie sets out to finish off the Clemmons brothers.  Up first is Frank, who Hannie finds over at the saloon, up stairs. He’s blown away out the window. Following him is Rufus, who catches her in a store in town and he in turn catches a couple of bullets from Hannie.

The final showdown between Hannie and Emmett happens at an old abandoned prison. She gets Emmett with a little help from the gunman who had crossed paths with Hannie a couple of times before in the film. The first is when he shows up at Bailey’s to have his gun repaired and then later, when Thomas and Hannie ride back from Mexico they pass the old prison, where the gunman apparently has been hiding out.

“Win or lose…you lose, Hannie Caulder.”

Culp’s Thomas Luther Price is an interesting character. A man with a distinct code of honor, one that doesn’t really advise on teaching a woman how to shoot a gun. And yet, knowing what happened to Hannie he can’t help but want to help her to find justice. He knows the path of revenge that she’s on she will never be the same afterwards. He tells her this, as a warning. But Hannie is too bent on the destruction of the Clemmons brothers to understand just exactly what Thomas means. Killing another human being involves a terrible change in psychology and thought process. A fine line that, once crossed, you don’t ever go back and act like it never happened. Hannie may find some satisfaction in taking the brothers down, but in the end, as Thomas tells her, she loses.

I think he tried to save her from this when he attempted to haul Frank in to the Sheriff’s office. He may have even figured to take all three men down himself but I’m not sure Hannie would have forgiven him for that. At least, not right away.

Culp’s attire in this film I also found interesting. The knee high moccasin leg wraps (I don’t know what else to call them as they’re not boots and they’re not chaps. They’re somewhere in between) added a unique look and the beard, of course, along with the glasses made him nearly unrecognizable.

Raquel Welch does a fine job as Hannie. I can’t help but find it amusing though that the promotional material for this movie show her much more scantily clad than we see in the film.

What I really wish I could find is a larger, clearer version of the photo below! I found this on a lark while searching for the above photos of Raquel. The only thing is, I think it’s a splice of two different photos of Culp and Welch, because she looks similar in stance as to the b&w photo of her above.

One final note here. Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin as the Clemmons brothers are three of the most disgusting, foulest, meanest, nastiest outlaws I’ve ever seen in a western. They’re also the stupidest as they blow several robbery attempts through the course of this movie. Strother Martin gets extra points for being obnoxiously whiny.  The best thing that could have happened to them was for Hannie to shoot them all down and take them out of their collective misery.

“Hannie Caulder” is available on DVD and as a digital download through Amazon.com.


Inside Out

Originally released October 1975 (UK), January 1976 (US)

**Contains spoilers**

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.