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Ghost Canyon

'Hickey and Boggs'
(Robert Culp, Bill Cosby, et al / DVD / NR / (1972) 2011 / Warner Bros. Archive)

Overview: Down-on-their-luck private investigators Al Hickey (Bill Cosby) and Frank Boggs (Robert Culp) are given a $500 retainer (money they really need) by the mysterious Mr. Rice (Lester Fletcher) to locate Mary Jane Bower (Carmen). Once they start poking into the matter, however, bodies begin to pile up, and they learn her disappearance is tied to a $400,000 robbery of a Pittsburgh bank some years previous.

DVD Verdict: This is a tough as nails noir film with Culp and Bill Cosby as two cynical PI's who get mixed up in a money laundering caper to the tune of 400 grand from a prior bank heist. Also involved are a slick crime boss and his henchmen - one of them is played by a very young Michael Moriarty - and, echoing Chandler, an effeminate lawyer, as well as the cops. The main two of that group are Vincent Gardenia, Sgt. Papadakis, and another early appearance, this time by James Woods at Lt. Wyatt.

But the two title characters carry the film and they do a great job. The dialogue is razor sharp and probably the most cynical in any film from the 70s, and maybe even since then. These two guys are so jaded and emotionally hollowed out that when a tragic loss hits one of them, the other one engages in semi-banter to cheer the first guy up, not even offering any sympathy.

Each of them carries an extra-long barrel revolver; each of them always wears a suit. Boggs (Culp) drinks too much. Each of them is divorced, but Hickey has dreams of getting back together with his wife while Boggs watches his ex dance in a strip club!

As a writer, Walter Hill is almost always great and here he shows his stuff to the max. Hill knows his noir; he smacks the viewer in the face with it, knowing just how far to go without being completely alienating. He's a master screenwriter, no question. Now released for the first time as a remastered Warner Archive Special Edition (using DVD-R recordable media), the picture quality is indeed sharp - it's just a shame the same couldn't have been said for the actual movie! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.