Pic of the Day: “He’ll Never See Daylight” revisited

Today’s pic takes another look at Matty Trifon, the gangster who enjoys nothing more than taking his friends out to dinner and stuffing them with yummy food. He appeared in the very first Baretta episode, “He’ll Never See Daylight”. It first aired on January 17, 1975 and was directed by the legendary Bernard L. Kowalski.

He'll Never See Daylight - 1975

I am fairly certain that the actress portraying Matty’s confused girlfriend is Judith Hanson, who is helpfully listed in the credits as “Girl”. I am also fairly certain that she is the same Judith Hanson who is now a country singer with a CD entitled Even Perfectly Nice People Go to Jail. She has this to say on her CDBaby artist page: “I was a child entertainer and became a top model in New York. I did national commercials and then went to Hollywood where I worked on television and some movies. I started writing songs for a very unusual reason and it turned into a business. Now I own my own publishing company, Hanson Payday Publishing, and I’m ready to cash in my chips!”

Quote of the Week

Born in Brooklyn, in 1929, Carey went to acting school and was a full-on believer of always being “in the moment” – a tendency that led to sudden, sometimes enraging improvisation (that beer he throws in Marlon Brando‘s face in “The Wild One” was not planned). But Kubrick saw something, and rescued Carey from years of bit parts to cast him first as the gunman in “The Killing,” and then as one of the railroaded soldiers in “Paths of Glory.”

It was a good match. Kubrick understood the importance of actors but didn’t have the slightest understanding of how they did what they did, or even how to guide them. It was one of the director’s few artistic failings, and it could lead to hundreds of frustrating takes or over-the-top performances. But some actors – like Malcolm McDowell, like Peter Sellers – saw this as a freedom.

So did Carey. His most memorable scene in “Paths of Glory,” in fact – with the sentenced soldier moaning “I don’t want to die” – was made up on the spot.

There’s something of a John Turturro in the young Carey, and those two movies with Kubrick suggested the kind of long collaboration that Turturro would later have with Spike Lee, or the Coen Brothers. And, in fact, Carey later had a part in “One-Eyed Jacks,” a film Kubrick had been signed to direct, before star Marlon Brando took over. But Kubrick went on to other projects, and he and Carey never worked again.

- Stephen Whitty, “The World’s Wildest Actor”; The New Jersey Star-Ledger (October 21, 2008)

One-Eyed Jacks

Pic of the Day: “Paths of Glory” revisited

To observe the 94th birthday anniversary of the great Ralph Meeker, we present another pic from Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory (1967). Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) meets with the scapegoated prisoners (Timothy, Joe Turkel and Meeker).

Paths of Glory

Meeker, born Ralph Rathgeber in Minneapolis, was discouraged from pursuing an acting career by the dedicated educators at Northwestern University. We are fortunate that he chose to ignore that advice! After an impressive stage career, he made his film debut in 1951. For the next thirty years he made his mark portraying tough guys and ne’er-do-wells, often with a vulnerable streak. For me, his top three roles were in Paths, The Naked Spur (1953) and (as the definitive Mike Hammer, as far as I’m concerned) Kiss Me Deadly (1955). He passed away from a heart attack at the far-too-young age of 67 in 1988.

Video of the Week: “Nightside”

This week’s video is the pilot for the failed proposed television series Nightside. It first aired on June 8, 1980. The quality of the video isn’t so great, and it has the uploader’s contact info plastered all over it, but its rarity if nothing else makes it worth a look. Timothy doesn’t appear until about the last two minutes, as a coked-out pimp by the name of Slowboy. It will always rankle me that Tim has no screen time with the otherworldly Joe Spinell, who appears here in a separate story thread. The mind boggles at the thought of these two titans of the bizarre existing in the same space.

Nightside was co-written and co-produced by the legendary Glen A. Larson, who lost his battle with esophageal cancer just last Friday at the age of 77. Television would not be the same without his amazing contributions.

Pic of the Day: “Big Jessie” revisited

Our pic of the day is another from the Cimarron Strip episode “Big Jessie”, first airing on February 8, 1968. Henchman Lobo sports a nasty scar and an even nastier attitude.

Big Jessie - 1968

At the helm for this episode was Herschel Daugherty. He began his career in feature films as a dialogue director in the mid-1940s. He soon began directing television series episodes in the early 1950s and worked quite successfully in this capacity for over twenty years, winning a Directors Guild of America award in 1957.

Quote of the Week

“You mean you’ve never heard of WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER?”

This was a question posed to me not too long ago by a friend; too many drinks and joints in while surveying his collection of rare films and memorabilia. To tell the truth, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, and could only stare back at him with a kind of slack-jawed goggle reserved for Alabama rats attempting to study astrophysics. In turn, my friend quickly dropped down to the floor, mumbling about some article in Psychotronic Video as he threw the cabinet of his entertainment center open, revealing a gaggle of VHS tapes, imported DVDs, and even spindles of DVDr recordings of late night TCM showings. From one of the spindles came a disc, probably buried six or seven deep, with the words “World’s Greatest Sinner” crudely scribbled on it with a black Sharpie. For a second I was semi-stressed, as neither of our wives were present, and I feared I was going to get exposed to some kind of super sick snuff flick he had hidden amongst bootlegs of forgotten Warren Oates roles.

Instead, what I got was entranced by the first forty-five minutes of arguably one of the strangest, most fascinating bits of cinema I’d ever laid eyes on. Dubbed by some as one of the “worst films ever made”, WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER was the work of one Timothy Carey, a Brooklyn born character actor who was attempting to produce, write and direct what he considered to be a “truly controversial” film. The story of a suburban everyman who becomes a rock megalomaniac, WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER is undoubtedly odd, but also hypnotic in its purpose; a kind of counter-culture document made before the term “counter-culture” was even part of our pop culture vernacular. And while it practically ruined his career in 1962, WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER has come to find a ROOM-like cult amongst psychotronic film fans*, because underneath the film’s seemingly inept veneer is an odd commentary on race and religion the likes of which were unheard of in the late 50s and early 60s.

*Zack Carlson of the Alamo Drafthouse recently put on a screening of WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER as his “goodbye film” before leaving as a programmer for the famed Texas theater chain

- Jacob Knight, “Remembering Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Bit Actor”; Very Aware (July 26, 2013)

The World's Greatest Sinner

Pic of the Day: “Unwed Mother” revisited

Today’s pic takes another gander at the unnamed but unnerving back-alley abortionist of the low-budget cautionary melodrama Unwed Mother (1958), directed by Walter Doniger. The unfortunate title character (Norma Moore) is definitely wondering what she’s gotten herself into at this point.

Unwed Mother

This was Timothy’s first film after Paths of Glory (1957), which, let’s face it, would give the average actor whiplash. But as we know, Tim was not the average actor, and he never walked through a role. No matter how big or how small the part, the budget, or the “prestige,” he gave his all in every performance.