Video of the Week: “What’s the Matter with Helen?” trailer

This week’s video is the trailer for Curtis Harrington‘s favorite of all of his films, What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971). Timothy is briefly glimpsed as the panhandling bum who gives Debbie Reynolds quite a scare.

Also featured are Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Pamelyn Ferdin (quintessential child star of the ’60s and ’70s and the voice of Lucy in most of the early Charlie Brown television specials), and the flamboyant Irish theatrical powerhouse Micheál MacLiammóir. Harrington was a proud Careyphile and spoke highly of Tim in his autobiography. Enjoy!

Pic of the Day: “The Velvet Jungle” revisited

It’s National Pancake Day! What better way to celebrate than with a nice hot stack of “super pancakes” served up by Danny, the (unfortunately racist) diner dude from the Starsky and Hutch episode “The Velvet Jungle,” first broadcast on March 5, 1977. Here Danny reveals the secret ingredient that makes his “super pancakes” so super.

The Velvet Jungle - 1977

I’m guessing a visit from the county health inspector is in Danny’s future. Dirty dining, indeed. Now let’s all go out and get some pancakes!

Pic of the Day: “Alaska Seas” revisited

I apologize for not posting last week! Not sure what happened. Guess I needed a little break. In any case, March is coming in like a lion with another look at Alaska Seas (1954), the maritime adventure directed by Jerry Hopper. Boat repairman Wycoff ponders how to get the $920.60 owed him by rogue fisherman Matt Kelly (Robert Ryan).

Alaska Seas

I was inspired to make Seas our Pic of the Day after coming across this epically hilarious promotional still from the film on eBay. One is inclined to wonder why Timothy was not included in this fabulous shot of Brian Keith, Jan Sterling and Ryan hamming it up for the camera.

Alaska Seas promo still

Quote of the Week

Of course, the main reason to see THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER is to observe Timothy Carey with the brakes removed. He’s mesmerizing in every scene but subtlety is not his specialty. Some critics have accused him of being a total ham and his scene chewing has an excessive, bigger-than-life quality. But just try to tear your eyes away from the screen.

Watch him shake like a bowl of radioactive jello as his Elvis-like alter ego dressed in gold lamé (There’s a little James Brown thrown in as well – “Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Take My Hand!” –  and maybe even some Tiny Tim). See him transform before your eyes into a hell and brimstone evangelist or play it sweet and low-key as an insurance salesman who’s just “seen the light.”

Carey has always had his own “style” of acting and when you start to consider all of the parts he’s played, he stands out in every movie, even in films where a director like Stanley Kubrick tightly controls every detail right down to an actor’s performance. Among some of my favorite Carey performances are his scary whorehouse bouncer in East of Eden, the shell-shocked, emotionally damaged soldier facing execution in Paths of Glory, the creepy gangster assigned to watch over hostage Phyllis Kirk in Andre de Toth’s Crime Wave, one of the hell-raising motorcycle gang members in The Wild One and his racetrack marksman in The Killing. Now you can add God Hilliard in THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER to your list of favorite Carey roles.

Jeff Stafford, “God Hilliard for President!”; Movie Morlocks (September 20, 2008)

TWGS

Quote of the Week

Timothy Carey had one of the most unusual careers of all Hollywood character actors, obtaining full cult status for his portrayals of the doomed, the psychotic and the plain crazy. Carey’s career was an “Only in America” type of story, and he retains his status as a Great American Original a decade after his death.

As a 22-year-old acting school graduate, he made his film debut in 1951 as a corpse in a Clark Gable western [Across the Wide Missouri (1951)], but it was his brief, uncredited part as Chino, a member of Lee Marvin‘s motorcycle gang The Beetles [actually, Marvin played Chino, not Tim] in The Wild One (1953) that made an impression and was a harbinger of the unsavory things to come. Prone to improvising, it was the fearless Carey who came up with the idea of squirting beer in Marlon Brando‘s face, even though the Great Method Actor himself had expressed reservations about what Carey was up to. He also registered that year [1955, actually] as the bordello bouncer who threatens James Dean in East of Eden (1955), making his face, if not his name (he was uncredited in both parts), known to the mass audience.

Carey followed this up with superb acting jobs in two Stanley Kubrick films, The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). In the former he played the sociopath Nikki Arane [last name is actually Arano], who is contracted to shoot a race horse, which he does with great glee. In Paths of Glory Carey had an atypically sympathetic role as French soldier Pvt. Ferol, unjustly condemned to be shot to atone for the stupidities of his generals during World War I. However, it was in Bayou (1957) that Carey reached his apotheosis as an actor: as the psychotic Cajun Ulysses, he crafted an indelible performance that went beyond the acceptable limits of cinema scenery-chewing. He became Ulysses, on-screen, the mad Cajun who epitomized evil, his insanity perfectly encapsulated in the psychotic jig Carey danced to more fully limn his character’s madness. This classic exploitation film was re-cut and re-released as Poor White Trash (1961), and became a grindhouse Gone with the Wind (1939), playing to crowds until the 1970s (and becoming, retrospectively, one of the top-grossing films of 1957).

Jon C. Hopwood, Timothy Carey on IMDb

The Killing

Video of the Week: “Head”

Today we learn of the death of June Fairchild, free-wheeling starlet of the 1960s and ’70s whose promising career never quite materialized. Her only film with Timothy (they don’t appear on-screen together, unfortunately) was Bob Rafelson‘s Head (1968), the notorious vehicle for The Monkees that was a dismal flop upon its initial release, but has since gained a massive cult following. Today we re-present that film in its entirety. June appears memorably as “The Jumper” at about an hour and nine minutes into the film.

We wish June peaceful rest. Enjoy the film, folks.

Quote of the Week

Many kind, deifying and admiring words have been written to extol the virtues of Timothy William Carey, the hulking, Irish-Italian Brooklynite actor who was notoriously difficult to work with. From his death in 1994 ebbed a slow but mighty wave of fans who have been able to articulate the importance of his long and varied career (although it must be said, even if he himself stressed the importance of always being a different character, he was ALWAYS Tim Carey in his roles).  He is often mentioned in the same breath as Crispin Glover (because of his overindulgence in bit-parts and screen stealing mania) and also Andy Kaufman (for his ability to irritate everybody on a set and spontaneous outbursts of “creativity”), however, there was a quality inextricably unsurpassed in Carey that makes him quite separate from those who share his title as simply a Hollywood provocateur.  He was an example par excellence of the mutinous mutant, the graceful pig, the real hero of those beneath the underdog. 

His representations of unstable deadbeats (Cassavetes’ Minnie and Moskowitz), men on death row (Kubrick’s Paths of Glory) or righteous fartists (his own The Insect Trainer) all have the honor of being loved by him – characters with nothing else in common but expedient exaggeration – but are still always losers, always hated by all around them, apart from himself.  In one of his glorious interviews, he announced, “Characters as evil as the ones I play just can’t be allowed to remain in society. The only time I managed to “stay alive” all the way through a picture was when I wrote and produced one myself”.  However this clever byline has a witty double entendre; for his overacting, radical excitement and inability to cooperate or be boring, he was fired from almost as many roles as he was able to snag.  That, and a piety about his art that made him give up done deals to be in the first two Godfathers, or roles with Tarantino and Coppola.  It is immediately apparent from looking at his career that the directors that gave him the most rope (his beloved Cassavetes and the early Kubrick work) were the ones that got the most out of him.

Jimmy Trash, “Timothy Carey: Hollywood Provocateur”; Network Awesome Magazine, April 25, 2013

Paths of Glory