March 24, 2010

"Why in my house?! Why in my bed?!" "Well, Bob, it just seemed like a convenient thing."

Remember the fabulous 1969 movie "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"?



There with the beautiful Natalie Wood (as Carol) is, as Bob, Robert Culp. The day has come to say goodbye to Robert Culp, who has died at the age of 79.

Culp was also in "I Spy," which was also the first place we encountered Bill Cosby. Here, you can watch the entire first episode of "I Spy" on YouTube. Look in the sidebar for more full episodes.

But it's "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" that had the big effect on me. The clip above shows Bob finding out that his wife is having an affair, and Bob and Carol are free-thinking open-marriage types, but Bob still angry — and then he must confront the conflict between that emotion and his ideology. I was 18 when that movie came out, and so, for me, Bob and Carol were the older generation. We laughed at the stupid way they thought they were hip. And yet, for all the laughing, somewhere along the way, it reached us. That last scene... I wish I could find that on YouTube, but I can't. See the movie, if you haven't. The music is Jackie DeShannon, "What the World Needs Now," and I can find a clip of her singing that (on "Shindig"):



What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love — no, not just for some but for everyone.

64 comments:

John said...

Well Ann I was 10 when that movie came out and my most prominent memory is this.

Lem said...

I remember him from The Greatest American Hero.

edutcher said...

Never saw B&C&T&A, largely because it was one of Hollywood's attempts to make a buck off the sexual squalor in which the hippie scum was wallowing and struck me as pretty lame.

The only thing I ever saw Culp do, except for his guest shots on other shows, was "I Spy". What struck me at the time was the fact that my mother and her siblings, born around the turn of the century and having the racial attitudes of their time, liked Cos and couldn't stand Culp.

He always seemed to be one of those actors who played the Method Actor; somebody trying to look cool, rather than being it.

WV "unerse" What Tarzan would say to The Blonde in the hospital.

David said...

I Spy was a great show. Interesting that it's not now viewed as a "milestone" event, though it was, with a major black character whose blackness was irrelevant to the story. Nowadays that would not be permitted. I am not sure this is progress.

Culp was not entirely convincing as a tennis pro however.

rcocean said...

I remember watching "I Spy" in reruns in the 70s as a kid. I couldn't figure out why Culp was the star and not Crosby.

He was a good Columbo villain thought.

David said...

Cosby was the star. Only Culp did not know that.

(That's probably unfair. I gather Cosby and Culp had, and retained, a good relationship.) Certainly the career arc was different.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julius Ray Hoffman said...

WTF? I sell porn for a living and I got a terrible awful dirty feeling after watching that.

I need to read some Roissy to cleanse my soul.

GREAT actor, tho'. You can see enormous talent just from that clip. RIP.

Nice California house too. And Natalie Wood is stunning. Her + that house = instant hard-on.

john said...

I never forgave Natalie Wood for turning her back on her Puerto Rican heritage.

traditionalguy said...

Bob and Carol were the educated thinkers that could discuss themselves into believing anything was true that sounded agreeable...a nice try. But that never worked to control the emotions of the man or the woman who needed a show of trustworthyness from both in the relationship. Too bad that sexual bonding from affairs and sexual diseases from affairs were not talk awayable in the real world. The belief then was that the Pill had made everything men and women wanted to do safe. Boy was that foolish.

David said...

I think even Culp knew Cosby was the star. From Wikipdia:

Culp then played secret agent Kelly Robinson, who masqueraded as a professional tennis player, for three years on the hit NBC series I Spy (1965-68), with co-star Bill Cosby. Culp wrote the scripts for seven episodes, one of which he also directed. One episode earned him an Emmy nomination for writing. For all three years of the series he was also nominated for an acting Emmy (Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series category), but lost each time to Cosby.

Apparently Culp and Cosby worked together numerous times over the years, always when Cosby had all the clout.

Natalie Wood--man what a gorgeous woman. She drowns young. Culp falls down as an old man and fractures his skull.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi indeed.

victoria said...

Cosby and Culp were great friends. Cosby even had Culp on his show, one great episode where Culp and his wife, played by Ann Reinking,talked about his recovery from heart surgery. You could see the affection these two guys had for each other. All the rest is just bull.

Vicki from Pasadena

TerriW said...

I always loved when he was the killer on Columbo. (And he often was.) Whenever I'd see him, I'd think, "How on Earth can we let Robert Culp walk around as a free man, ready and willing to kill again?"

RIP.

NewHam said...

I love this part:

"He's not in my pajamas, is he?"

She reacts with horror! "No!"

He's in the pussy, but not the pajamas ... no God, please, not the pajamas.

Ah, Hollywood.

Priorities!

AJ Lynch said...

Trivia- Culp's sister played staid and plain Jane Hathaway [?] on The Beverly Hillbillies. She had the unrequited hots for Jethro.

edutcher said...

AJ Lynch said...

Trivia- Culp's sister played staid and plain Jane Hathaway [?] on The Beverly Hillbillies. She had the unrequited hots for Jethro.

Sure about that? Nancy Kulp spelled her name differently and this is the first I've ever heard they were related (since both had series at the same time, TV Guide would have had an article, I don't doubt).

WV "rugosy" How the guy who played Dracula was greeted in Japan or how most Americans view the current House Speaker.

EnigmatiCore said...

Robert Culp is the hippie generation's David Caruso.

EnigmatiCore said...

Yeaaaaaagggggghhhhhhhh

AJ Lynch said...

Edutcher:

It seems like I have known that forever. But maybe it's not accurate.

bagoh20 said...

Newham, That is funny.

AJ Lynch said...

Educther:

You are right. Wikipedia had no mention of the Robt Culp/Jane Hathaway relationship. I need a better memory.

SteveR said...

Jackie DeShannon, "What the World Needs Now,"

When I hear that song it makes me remember how I felt back then that it was so true and how sad I am now that its not.

chuck b. said...

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice has been in my Netflix queue for about 10 years. I keep moving things ahead of it. There are several other movies in the same situation, including My Dinner with Andre. Also: The Spiral Staircase, Bringing Up Baby, Marathon Man, Pretty In Pink, Alice Sweet Alice, and Ace in the Hole.

bagoh20 said...

I don't remember this period for it's often touted social strife. I remember it fondly in just the opposite way: I remember a time of general good will between people and comfortable non-judgmental lifestyles where everyone smoked, drank to excess, had plenty of sex, and experimented with most everything. There was plenty of strife in the news, but our daily lives seemed mostly playful with great optimism about life in general. People worked hard and played hard and everyone seemed to expect great things from the country. The problems of the world did not intrude to the personal level in my small-town world. I miss the feel of it.

brer rabbit said...

Jane H. stopped wanting Jethro for brilliant Joe who didn't call her plain Jane.

bagoh20 said...

This was a time when people abandoned the previous wisdom to pursue a new one. It did not exist. The old one went out of style, but remained the only true one, the one developed over milenia of trial and error and momentarily forgotten. The excursion was a bit naive, but exploration often is. It has it's long term costs, but we had to do it anyway. It was just a part of the journey. Learn from it or don't, but it won't change just for you.

brer rabbit said...

All joy to you in the experiment and edification process. Life can work out in myriad ways; some ways are usual and usually reliable and others more intriguing, despite. Cue the cliche but no less valid "different strokes/ folks" stuff, body and psyche.

Jeffrey said...

From the same time, falling into the same illusions about relationships:

Triad.

Jefferson Airplane. Nice song. Why can't we go on as three? Like someone above said, these experiments in new, "free-love" relationships were attempted but all of them failed (just like the communes that were popular in that period).

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reader_iam said...

The expressions on the faces at the end of that movie are to die for.

reader_iam said...

""Why in my house?! Why in my bed?!" "Well, Bob, it just seemed like a convenient thing.""

Intended or not, I think I just got one answer to a question I've posed.

Meade said...

"The expressions on the faces at the end of that movie are to die for."

Yeah - not unlike the expressions on the faces at the end of "The Graduate." We are idiots who have no real idea what we are doing!

Michael McNeil said...

He's in the pussy, but not the pajamas … no God, please, not the pajamas.

Insofar as I remember the philosophies of the time, the theory was that the pussy wasn't his, it was hers.

Anga2010 said...

You boomers are phreaking me out.

reader_iam said...

Meade: Personally, I'd characterize them (the end faces of both B&C&T&A and TG) as more like, "Oh, shit. What the fuck now?" But then, I'm at the back-ass end of the boomer generation (depending how it's defined; alternatively, I'm between whatever came between the BB's and X-ers: What the hell is the later name for that space?), not at or of the heart of the boomer gen. Therefore, what can I [have to] say?

; )

bagoh20 said...

I'm like you reader iam. I think we should be called the "Witness Generation".

reader_iam said...

There is this little, weird detail w/r/t both B&C&T&A and TG I've pondered for a long time (only sporadically and at widely spread intervals, of course: the subjects don't come up very often, after all, anymore)--

None of the main characters were actually Baby Boomers, generationally speaking. Think about it for a moment.

Really, they weren't.

Really.

Jeffrey said...

Reader Jam,

I'm in that same tweener generation. In the mid-seventies I was in a high-school rock band and we played a lot of the sixties music -- Allman Brothers, Santana, Led Zeppelin -- but by the time I got to college I was listening to the Ramones, Elvis Costello, B-52s, Devo, and then later all the bands to follow, from ska bands like the Selector to X and the Minutemen.

Probably one index of generational difference is whether you slam-danced or danced ska or not. Hippies didn't slam-dance -- way too violent, man!

Gen-Xers, I believe, listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam (I could be wrong about that, though).

*

Jeffrey said...

Reader Jam and Bagho20,

I think we've been called the "blank generation."

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Michael McNeil said...

None of the main characters were actually Baby Boomers, generationally speaking.

Kind of like someone here who said a while back that he voted against McCain — born in 1936 — because he was a “boomer.” Pretty stupid. Obama (born 1961) is on the edge of being a boomer, but McCain certainly isn't. (As Wikipedia puts it, “The United States Census Bureau considers a baby boomer to be someone born during the demographic birth boom between 1946 and 1964.”

reader_iam said...

And Paul Mazursky was born in 1930; Mike Nichols was born in 1931.

Jeffrey said...

In many respects, the punk and new wave generation were very traditional. The Ramones were traditional rockers who played a little faster. Elvis Costello wasn't writing about triads and group sex -- just about the usual crap having to deal with one woman.

Devo was a special case. They were, in fact, hippies who also happened to be insane.

Whip It.

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reader_iam said...

Michael McNeil: An early 1961-er, here.

Michael McNeil said...

Reader: '49 for me. I'm as close to the (other) edge of the boom as Obama and you are.

reader_iam said...

(Re: cultural literacy

My parents were actually quite strict and conservative about the behavior expected from us.

They were more laid back, however, with regard to exposure to the Arts--historical, traditional, current, & etc.--in its various forms, film included.)

Jeffrey said...

Michael,

1946-1964 is nearly twenty years. Using the age of twenty as a beginning point, that gives us 1966-1984. That goes from the folkies ("Puff the Magic Dragon") and the early hippies (along with Zappa, "Freak Out!" 1966, and "Absolutely Free," 1967) all the way to the Minutemen's "Double Nickels on the Dime" (1984). Probably three or four musical generations, at least, in that time period.

The term "boomer" may to capacious.

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Jeffrey said...

Reader Jam and Michael,

I was born in 1956. I can remember being a kid in school and getting the day off when Kennedy got shot.

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reader_iam said...

Jeffrey:

I liked Devo's version of this song way better, even back then (though I liked, and like, the other as well).

And I'm lol'ing at the thought of how perfect it is that in order to view the video to which I just linked, I had to suck up watching several seconds of an ad first. What cynics those dudes are.

Perfect!

(wv: gaminut)

Jeffrey said...

Reader Jam,

Hey, thanks for the Devo link! Yep, it is a better song than "Whip It." I loved their 1978 album: "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" It was so weird and jagged.

By the way, the lead singer, Mark Mothersbaugh, was born on May 18, 1950.

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Jeffrey said...

Reader Jam,

Oh yeah, I meant to say that I, too, found Devo's version of the Stones' song more connected to elemental dissatisfaction.

*

bagoh20 said...

It has been an interesting ride wherever you happen to be in the boomer wave. Incredible changes, but we had nothing like WWII or the depression where virtually everything in life changed for everyone for a while. Before that, generations often lived through near annihilation in many cultures. Imagine being born around 1830 as a Sioux or Apache. To witness the end of your civilization as you know it. We are lucky to have lived in interesting times without the curse.

Jeffrey said...

Bagoh20,

Good points. My grandfather was born in Chicago in 1877 and lived until 1968. His dad was a carriage-maker in Chicago. Horse-shit on the streets was a problem at the time and you went as fast as a horse could pull your carriage. By the time he died, we were getting ready to walk on the moon.

He lived next to me in a small town in Iowa. He had lived through two world wars and the depression. He didn't get out of debt until he was in his seventies.

*

Michael McNeil said...

Imagine being born around 1830 as a Sioux or Apache.

The 1830's was the time of a far greater disaster for the Plains Indians than the 1880's. As a result of the near extermination of the buffalo during the 1880's, for instance, around one quarter of the Blackfoot Indians in my own home state of Montana starved.

That's bad enough — however, the terrific smallpox pandemic of 1837-38 across the northern Plains decimated two thirds of the Blackfoot (after which they were no longer able to keep whites out of their territory). Even the horrible Black Death of Medieval Europe only killed around one third of the European population!

Certain Indian peoples suffered ever more: the settled Mandan folk of the upper Missouri River valley declined from 2,000 to only 138 during those two years — too few to further resist the nomadic Sioux, who thereafter overwhelmed their remaining town. It was a total catastrophe for the Mandan.

reader_iam said...

Jeffrey: Indeed, actual Boomer-age musicians did their thing rather later. : ) And as you picked up--I wasn't comparing Devo's "Satisfaction" to their "Whip It," but rather to the more famous version of "Satisfaction"--and finding Devo's better for the reason you noted.

bagoh20 said...

I have done some research into the deaths from Indian and White conficts in the Continental US territory. Surprisingly, the deaths from armed conflict were only a few thousand on both sides over the entire conquest. The Indians actually killed a few more whites than the other way around, but disease, starvation, and exposure decimated the rest. A terribly unfortunate disaster that could be easily averted today. Bad timing for a meeting of cultures of widely differing values, technology and immunity, with neither side yet able to control the deadly effects of the melding.

reader_iam said...

One of the ways in which I've had great good fortune is that, even though it was as a child, I got to interact with relatives born as far back as in the end of the 1870s/start of the 1880s (all in other countries, by the way, as far as those whom I got to meet). As even an adult, I got to interact with kinfolk born at the turn of the last century.

This is, indeed, a blessing.

bagoh20 said...

Strange path from Bob, Carol Ted and Alice to Devo to Indian wars of the 1800s. The beauty of blogs

bagoh20 said...

Even though it would seem less useful, I think most of us would prefer to speak to someone from the distant past rather than the future.

The Crack Emcee said...

"We laughed at the stupid way they thought they were hip. And yet, for all the laughing, somewhere along the way, it reached us."

And that's probably why you seem so confused: You connect with what you know is stupid and unhip - like American Idol - which means you become stupid and unhip yourselves.

Speaking of stupid and unhip shit that white people feel compelled to indulge in - like harping on race - ever notice there's no blacks in Fight Club?

Harp, harp, harp.

Not a lot of fun, when it's a black person talking about whites, is it? Here you are, trying to have a nice post about sleazy dead "Bob" - just as I search the web trying to find a nice place to hang out - and then *BAM!* up comes some stupid racial shit to ruin the whole thing.

Yea, that's what it's like.

William said...

The bridge is not between Bob & Carol and the Sioux. The bridge is between Bob & Carol and Friends. Elliot Gould during his brief moment of cool was in the communal bed of Bob & Carol, and he later appeared as a parent on Friends. Friends can thus be described as the evil spawn of that communal bed....My problem with Friends is that everybody slept around like crazy, and nobody got jealous enough to terminate the relationship. That's just not the way life works. Nothing burns down a relationship faster than physical jealousy. You can't square the circle.

bagoh20 said...

"Speaking of stupid and unhip shit that white people feel compelled to indulge in - like harping on race "

I agree it is entirely over talked, but dude, it wasn't really in this thread till you brought it.

You really think whites obsess about it more than blacks. Not in my experience. Black comedy, music, literature and art and politics is entirely centered on race. It's only a subject of many for whites, but for blacks, it is life.

At least that's how this unhip cracker sees it.

reader_iam said...

Saul Alinsky was born in 1909. (How many people here know that?) "Reveille for Radicals" was published in 1946. "Rules for Radicals" was published in 1971.

save_the_rustbelt said...

I so wanted to grow up to be Robert Culp, but being short, clumsy and homely doesn't quite work.

Revenant said...

I remember him from The Greatest American Hero.

Yeah, I was a big fan of that show. "I Spy" was great, too.

He always seemed like a classy guy. Rest in Peace.

Revenant said...

You really think whites obsess about [race] more than blacks.

In my experience, white people pretty much never harp about race. We do, however, sometimes harp about members of OTHER races harping about race. :)

Honestly, if it wasn't for blacks and Hispanics bitching about how their race has it so rough, I wouldn't spend ten seconds out of any given year thinking about what race people are.