Palatable: Hickey & Boggs
Directed by Robert Culp
Written by Walter Hill, Robert Culp
Produced by Fouad Said, Joel Reisner
Starring Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, Carmencristina Moreno, Rosalind Cash, Lester Fletcher, Louis Moreno, Bill Hickman, Matt Bennett, Gerald Peters, Robert Mandan, Michael Moriarty, Bernie Schwartz, Ron Henriquez, Vincent Gardenia, Ed Lauter, James Woods, Roger E. Mosley, Gilchrist Stuart
As its scanty box office receipts revealed, theatergoers energized by and accustomed to aggressive spectaculars courtesy of Peckinpah, D'Antoni, et al. hadn't a collective palate for Hill's auctorial debut, a costive, cheerless reunion of I Spy stars Cosby and Culp (meanly overseen by the latter) as luckless, partnered Angelean private dicks whose professional search for an elusive femme (Moreno) enmeshes them in dicey convolutions eventuating from her husband's (Moreno) canny abstraction of a small fortune in large bills heisted from a bank in Pittsburgh. Perseverance, rich tricks, intuitive acumen and magnum revolvers suffice to sustain them on a fraught, flexuous trail to $400K, but not to forestall the collateral damage proceeding from a few ugly retaliations. It's shot as well as played, nimbly plotted in Hill's usual manner and extending to viewers no more clues than to its prostrate protagonists. Familiar faces that weren't in '72 abound: on loan from D'Antoni, supreme stunt driver Hickman heads a vicious trio of hitmen; police detectives Gardenia, Lauter and Woods are three steps behind the desperate dyad; copiously coiffed, Moriarty grins winningly as a buoyant mob attorney. Modest by both current and contemporaneous criteria, Culp's sole cinematic feature is still worth a watch for its unostentatious craftsmanship and refreshingly unsentimental pathos.
Recommended for a double feature paired with The Getaway.