Michael Sragow, fab film critic for The Baltimore Sun, rings in with this terse, spot-on capsule appraisal of Robert Culp's neglected "Hickey and Boggs" (1972) in the September 3rd edition of The New Yorker:
"In a rare show of Hollywood respect for a screenwriter, the director Robert Culp gave Walter Hill the credit right after the title. He earned it for his brilliantly conceived script about a private-eye team in seventies Los Angeles who try to live by a strong-silent-guy code at a time when laws and mores have outstripped their hardboiled style. Culp’s staging and editing are ragged, but as Boggs he acts up a quiet storm, and he elicited superb ensemble work from the likes of Rosalind Cash, James Woods, Isabel Sanford, Michael Moriarty, and the uncredited Roger E. Mosley. The plot, about a search for a woman who is peddling stolen cash, involves at least one pervert, various money changers, Black Power spokesmen and radical-chic supporters, and a team of cops led by the perennially dyspeptic Vincent Gardenia. Nearly all of the directorial lapses are forgiven when Culp flashes an idiotic smile at his ex-wife as he watches her perform at a strip club, or when Bill Cosby, as Hickey, in a performance that should have pegged him as a strong, versatile leading man, repeatedly goads his partner into action. Released in 1972. (Moving Image; Sept. 1.)"
I was planning to comment on Culp's film myself but bow instead to Michael. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Michael is also the author of Library of America's "Agee on Film" and has recently completed a biography of the director Victor Fleming. He also contributes reviews to The Atlantic.
Cinema Obscura is a recurring feature of The Passionate Moviegoer, devoted to those films that have been largely forgotten. Suggestions welcome.
(Artwork: Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as the title characters in Culp's "Hickey and Boggs")
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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com