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April 09, 2010


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Glenn, in terms of auteurist credentials, Culp worked for several years with Sam Peckinpah on the TV show TRACKDOWN, I believe as both an actor and a writer (his writing is very strong on I SPY). TRACKDOWN's not cinema, but it has that connection to it.

And I'd heartily recommend I SPY. From the chemistry of its leads to its gorgeous (and very innovative for TV) international location work to its appealingly unpredictable mixture of the screwball and the moody, I think you could really get into it.

I didn't know Culp was on RAYMOND-- I liked the show, but had kind of tuned it out after a couple of years-- but I'm glad to hear he was good on it.


I don't watch much TV either, but I have to admit, though TV's so-called "Golden Age" may be over, as some critics have mentioned, it was great while it lasted, and as the poster on "The Auteurs" pointed out, often much more fulfilling than most movies.

John Plunkett

My favorite quote came from Noel Murray at the AV Club: "Almost more than his filmography though, Culp was famous for his presence: whether living it up at the Playboy mansion or standing at a podium to raise money for a cause, Culp epitomized a certain kind of Kennedy-era masculinity, at once rakish, tough, sophisticated and confident."

Damn right he did.


Culp's film work was spotty, but he was always worth watching - especially on the small screen. His best features were TV movies like A Cold Night's Death and A Cry for Help.

I Spy is great and holds up nicely, especially the vibe between Culp and Cosby. BTW, the episodes Culp wrote and directed for the show were released on a great DVD set a few years ago with Culp commentary.

And Everybody Loves Raymond is damn good. How can you resist a show that has Culp married to Katherine Helmond?

I got to meet and know him a little, and will never forget the time he left an answering machine message for me: "Shall we...as they say in parlance...do lunch?"

A great guy and awesome writer, I think he always considered himself more a scribe than anything. He was always working on a script or three.

RIP Robert Culp

John Plunkett

"His scene when he discovers his wife has been unfaithful to him and he must confront his own feelings after preaching free love, is a marvel of hypocrisy and remains one of his finest moments."

YES it is - I remember his ultimate realization in the bathroom with Natalie Wood (paraphrasing): "OK, OK, so what happened? You had a THING with a MAN." Just the way he says that phrase, going over the words until they don't mean a thing.

Mazursky said in his autobiography that Culp was the only cast member who seemed ready to give the orgy finale a try for real.


Culp was also one of Columbo's greatest foils, in no less than 4 outings. You friend Joseph has me drooling to see those OUTER LIMITS episodes. And by the way, HICKEY & BOGGS is available through Netflix and, I assume, other outlets. TRACKDOWN used to show up on TVLand occasionally, back when they actually deigned to show a true variety of classic TV that predated the 70s. Their Saturday morning lineup was all Westerns for a while there. A shame they now seem to ignore the 50s, except for LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (not to knock that fine little show).

Upon Culp's passing, a good friend of mine told me how exciting it was to have Culp co-star in his first produced teleplay, an episode of HARDCASTLE AND MCCORMICK. He had nothing but praise for the man.

One thing I loved about Culp was how effortlessly hip he seemed (if that word has any positive cache left, post-Armond White). His chemistry with Cosby was fantastic, and yes, he was a perfect fit for BOB & CAROL, et al.

This is also an apt place to give a shout out to Peter Graves.


Culp was friends with Harlan Ellison, and Ellison is also mentioned in the comments of your GENTLEMEN BRONCOS post, above. Let's see how many we can get in a row.

You know what was interesting about EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND? There were several episodes that consisted of two, maybe three long scenes, everything carried by dialogue and behavior, like little plays. Like you, Glenn, I'm not going to make a federal case out of it, but structurally that show occasionally took risks (well, risk, singular) that nobody ever gave it credit for.


I agree about the underrated brilliance of RAYMOND. Romano has carried it over to drama in his MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE, which has the same combination of pitiless and compassionate that you can find in Nicole Holofcenter's movies, if you're into that kind of thing. The long scenes and theatrical quality of RAYMOND was interesting, but it also struck me as kind of a pre-SEINFELD throwback--very much crafted for the studio audience, with continuous scenes on single sets. And I really only watched the show on American Airlines, when they used to show them during the last hour of flight from NY to LA. Anything that can distract me from my crippling aviophobia is a wonderful thing.


You know about Forsythe and Topaz, I downloaded it via bittorrent and on my 17 inch laptop, in a window much smaller than that size, I thought, "masterpiece!," but now on DVD I see it and I feel, "eh, uninteresting film." And yet when I play it on my computer it still looks like a masterpiece. I have no idea why that is, there's nothing intrinsically small-screen about it.

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