34 user 37 critic

Hickey & Boggs (1972)

Bill Cosby and Robert Culp ("I Spy") are united again as private eyes in this Walter Hill-scripted "film noir." Searching for a missing girl, they find themselves involved with vicious criminals and precipitating a string of deaths.


Robert Culp


Walter Hill




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Cosby ... Al Hickey
Robert Culp ... Frank Boggs
Ta-Ronce Allen Ta-Ronce Allen ... Nyona's Daughter
Rosalind Cash ... Nyona
Lou Frizzell ... Lawyer
Nancy Howard Nancy Howard ... Apartment Manager's Wife
Bernard Nedell ... Used Car Salesman
Isabel Sanford ... Nyona's Mother
Sheila Sullivan Sheila Sullivan ... Edith Boggs
Carmencristina Moreno Carmencristina Moreno ... Mary Jane (as Carmen)
Jason Culp ... Mary Jane's Son
Ron Henriquez Ron Henriquez ... Quemando: Florist
Louis Moreno Louis Moreno ... Quemando: Prisoner
Caryn Sanchez Caryn Sanchez ... Mary Jane's Daughter
Robert Mandan ... Mr. Brill


Bill Cosby and Robert Culp ("I Spy") are united again as private eyes in this Walter Hill-scripted "film noir." Searching for a missing girl, they find themselves involved with vicious criminals and precipitating a string of deaths.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They hold their forty-four magnums with two hands and keep firing until they hit something ... anything. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This was Walter Hill's first credit as screenwriter. Hill later said he had hoped the title roles would be played by Jason Robards and Strother Martin, rather than the popular TV team of Robert Culp and Bill Cosby (who co-starred together in I Spy (1965)), but he later said he found the film they made was ok. See more »


During the final gun battle, the title characters take cover behind two cars, a Firebird and a Rolls, which get shot up. The bullet holes visible in the latter don't look like the popular perception of 'clean' round bullet holes in metal, but splintered like wood or GRP (glassfibre). See more »


Frank Boggs: [Hickey and Boggs are loading their revolvers after a run-in with some heavies] Al... You ever kill anybody? In the United States? Because I know you mean it and everything, but I know these guys better than I know you. They're soldiers, that's all. No questions, no time to ask, no talk. Cops are worse, and less predictable. When you pull a gun, you've gotta be ready to kill somebody, and I'm telling you it's better to run.
Al Hickey: You finished?
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Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Tango & Cash (2019) See more »


Hickey & Boggs
Written and Performed by George Edwards
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User Reviews

Culp directs self, Cosby in brutally effective early-70s noir update
20 April 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Action and suspense films from the early 1970s have a distinctive period flavor to them. The surprisingly effective Hickey and Boggs – co-star Robert Culp's sole directorial effort – embodies that disillusioned and dissolute era of movie making. The rough and choppy editing, the oddly cropped shots keep the viewer on edge; so do the less than pristine cinematography and the cacophonous sound track, with dialogue overlaid on a constant, dull background roar of ambient noise. Often this proved to be a recipe for pretentious but empty disasters and cynical exploitation films; here, it all works to keep the level of unease – of menace – uncomfortably high.

Bill Cosby and Robert Culp play the title characters, a couple of down-on-their-luck Los Angeles private investigators. (Many moviegoers of the era apparently expected a big-screen reprise of their successful pairing in the television spoof of the 1960s, I Spy; how wrong they were.) They are engaged to find a missing woman by one of those creepily effete characters who, since Peter Lorre's Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, exist only to set up private eyes in the movies. And as they go about their sleuthing, they uncover a trail of brutally murdered corpses, a situation which does not endear them to the police. They come to learn that the woman they're tracking holds the take from a robbery of the Federal Reserve Bank in Pittsburgh some years before; they've been hired as finger men by one of a number of murky but vicious groups seeking to retrieve the cash.

The movie forgoes crisp, clockwork plotting for a generalized miasma of corruption, duplicity and malaise. There are allusions to the turbulent politics of the times in the involvement of black militants and Chicano radicals; there are whiffs, too, of the specter of newly hatched sexualities that threaten the status quo. At the scene of one murder, they find crushed amyl nitrite poppers and gay porn, while the jaded oldster who engages them suns himself on a towel sited suspiciously close to a set of swings where young children are cavorting; for that matter Culp, in his cups and a masochistic, self-pitying mood, watches his ex-wife flaunt herself in a strip club to be ogled by drunken strangers.

The malaise, of course, becomes murderous in Walter Hill's very violent screenplay, touching Cosby's character (his estranged wife ends up tortured to death). Still, the two dead-end dicks soldier on, more though one another's goading than from any code or commitment – they're both on the verge of giving up and sliding down into the vortex of lust, avarice and revenge that has become their world (and by extension, THE world). Describing Hickey and Boggs makes it sound like the ultimate downer; it is, but it's an uncommonly compelling piece of film making, and one that has pretty much fallen through the cracks of movie history.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

4 October 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hickey & Boggs See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Film Guarantors See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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