Video of the Week: Behind the scenes of “East of Eden” (1955)

Sixty years ago today, James Dean lost his life in a dreadful automobile accident. Our video this week celebrates that short but incandescent life. Culled from the archives, it’s a rare collection of behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of East of Eden (1955) in Mendocino, California in the spring of 1954. It can be found in the bonus material of the DVD release of James Dean: Born Cool (2001). Timothy just might be lurking unseen (or barely seen) in the background of some of this footage, but a very good glimpse of him starts at about 6:34 in – in case you couldn’t tell, he’s that tall drink of water dressed all in black, talking with a couple of fellows and chewing gum vehemently.

Today is also the perfect day to revisit Timothy’s reminiscences about his friendship with Dean during the making of the film. I often consider how much better off we all would be if both of these men were still with us.

Pic of the Day: “Crime Wave” revisited

To celebrate the birthday anniversary of the great Ted de Corsia, born in Brooklyn this date in 1903, we take another look at Crime Wave (1954), directed by Andre’ de Toth. This is a publicity still for the film under its original title, The City is Dark.

aka Crime Wave

Also appearing here are (left to right) Phyllis Kirk, Gene Nelson, Jim Hayward, and the familiar-looking fellow in the white t-shirt is Charles Buchinsky. You probably know him better under the name he began using shortly afterwards – Charles Bronson.

Quote of the Week


1957 / Paths of Glory – Timothy Carey kills a cockroach.

U.S. Director: Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Ralph Meeker, Timothy Carey.

Why It’s Key: A quintessential character actor achieves his apotheosis when his character kills a bug.

To cover up his vain blunders, a French general (George Macready) in World War I orders three of his soldiers (Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel, Timothy Carey), chosen almost at random, to be court-martialed and then shot by a firing squad for dereliction of duty, as an example to their fellow soldiers. When their last meal is brought to them, they can mainly only talk desperately about futile plans for escape and the hopelessness of their plight. Then Corporal Paris (Meeker) looks down at a cockroach crawling across the table and says, “See that cockroach? Tomorrow morning, we’ll be dead and it’ll be alive. It’ll have more contact with my wife and child than I will. I’ll be nothing, and it’ll be alive.” Ferol smashes the cockroach with his fist and says, almost dreamily, “Now you got the edge on him.”

We’re apt to laugh at the absurdism and grotesquerie of the moment — especially Timothy Carey’s deadpan delivery, as if he had a mouthful of mush and was soft-pedaling the phrase like Lester Young on his tenor sax. One of the creepiest character actors in movies, he doesn’t fit the period; even if we accept him as a French soldier, accepting him as one in World War I is more of a stretch, because he registers like a contemporary beatnik. That’s also how he comes across in East of Eden, One-Eyed Jacks, The Killing, or The Killing of Chinese Bookie. But for precisely that reason, he gives the line the existential ring it deserves.

Paths of Glory

Quote of the Week

The Insect Trainer’s main character, Guasti Q. Guasti, is convicted of murder after farting so powerfully that a woman falls from her chair, hits the floor and dies. The play is characteristic theatre of the absurd, full of non-sequiturs and jarring stage action. Carey was hard at work rehearsing the play before his passing and created a philosophical tract about the virtues of flatulence. Carey’s son Romeo is planning a revival of The Insect Trainer, due to premiere in Los Angeles this spring. Romeo hopes to take the production on the road.

For all of Timothy Carey’s antics, he remained a devoted family man with a wife (only one) and six kids and endless dogs, cats, chickens, and horses. He lived out his life in the quiet suburb of El Monte, preferring the company of his animals to the unearthly world of Hollywood society. As he admits, he “made lots of fast enemies” during his career, but readily forgave his antagonists, as they were often just not ready to appreciate his uniqueness.

James B. Harris, the crusty producer/director who had many a run-in with Carey over the years acknowledges, “I know he’s so bizarre and I don’t think it’s gratuitous. I think there is enough humanity in this man. I think he could make a scene better than anyone else.” This humanity described by Harris encompassed a sympathy for the underdog: Carey was a supporter of Palestinian and Native American rights. The romantic equation, the ability to triumph despite the odds, played a great part in his art and his outlook.

– Alex de Laszlo, “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Timothy Carey”, Uno Mas magazine, 1996

Insect Trainer flyer

Pic of the Day: “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” revisited

In anticipation of tonight’s airing of the Lillian Roth biopic I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955) on Turner Classic Movies (9:00PM PST, 12:00AM EST), we present another screen shot from Timothy’s don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-him appearance about halfway through the film, as a sweaty derelict in a seedy flophouse. He is on his way to (it is strongly implied) molest Ms. Roth (Susan Hayward in her Oscar-nominated performance) as she lies in a delirious alcoholic stupor.

I'll Cry Tomorrow

Another of Tim’s uncredited “bit parts” that makes you wish he was a bigger part of the story. Don’t miss this excellent film tonight!

Video of the Week: “Dead Weight”

UPDATE 09.17.15: And it’s gone! I guess we should be thankful…

OK folks. This week’s video is a prime example of how not to present a video online. As today is the birthday anniversary of the late great Peter Falk, I was hoping to share one of the three episodes of Columbo in which Timothy appears. I found this one on YouTube. It’s “Dead Weight,” first broadcast on October 27, 1971 and the second of Tim’s two outings as chili-slinger Bert. Now, I realize that YouTube constantly gets on people’s cases about uploading copyrighted material. But does that explain the annoying frame around the actual video, the fact that the sound is notably and gratingly slowed down, or the fact that the same episode plays twice in a row? All of these things render the video basically unwatchable, at least to my mind. I’ll let you make your own decision on that.

Until we get an official dedicated Columbo channel on YouTube, or maybe Hulu or someplace picks it up, this looks like the best we have to work with as far as the internet goes. It’s a damn shame, really.

Quote of the Week

TV STORE ONLINE: On that note… You also worked on another exploitation film called CHESTY ANDERSON U.S. NAVY [1976].  Didn’t you work with nutzoid actor Timothy Carey on that film?
FRED WILLARD: Yes, I did that movie. I have no clue though how I got involved with that project. I think I played an undercover detective, didn’t I? I thought it was a good idea. Didn’t the actress who played Chesty Anderson do some Russ Meyer movies? I was sort of a fan of Timothy Carey. I had originally seen him in EAST IN EDEN [1955]. He was a very nice guy. He was also very eccentric. He talked really fast. He was quite an interesting character for sure.
Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy