Video of the Week: “East of Eden” (1981)

Our video for this week is another one culled from the archives. John Steinbeck‘s great American novel East of Eden has been filmed twice: first as a feature film in 1955, directed by Elia Kazan, and then as an ABC television miniseries in 1981 with Harvey Hart at the helm. (Apparently there is a new version in the works with Jennifer Lawrence.) Timothy has the distinction of appearing in both of them. Here he is in the 1981 miniseries as a fiery circuit-riding preacher, starting at about the 1:15:28 mark.

Unfortunately, this is the only time he appears in the program. I can’t be the only one who thinks this character deserved his own spin-off series. Enjoy!

Pic of the Day: “East of Eden” (1955) revisited

Eighty-four years ago yesterday, James Byron Dean was born in Marion, Indiana. The blue-eyed heart-breaker from the heartland scored his first starring role in Elia Kazan‘s East of Eden (1955), based on the epic novel by John Steinbeck. Timothy and Dean hit it off during shooting, and together they shook up the little seaside town of Mendocino, California.

East of Eden (1955)

Tim told the story of his friendship with Dean in an article for Movie Stars Parade magazine in 1957. This September we will observe the sixtieth anniversary of Dean’s death. We can only imagine the elder statesmen of cinema these two would be now, if we had not been deprived of their presence far too soon.

Pic of the Day: “Bloodhounds of Broadway” revisited

Kicking off the week a day late is Harmon JonesBloodhounds of Broadway (1952), the musical extravaganza starring Mitzi Gaynor and Scott Brady. It provided Timothy with one of his earliest (if uncredited) speaking roles as Crockett Pace, the hot-tempered mountain-folk (“hillbilly” is so gauche) suitor of future Broadway star Emily Ann Stackerlee (Gaynor). He is seen here getting his hat knocked off by equally hot-tempered Numbers Foster (Brady).

Bloodhounds of Broadway

Jones, a native of Canada, began his Hollywood career as a film editor at 20th Century-Fox in the mid-1940s. He received an Academy Award nomination for his work on Elia Kazan‘s Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). He turned to directing in the early 1950s, and kept himself well occupied with both film and television projects until the late 1960s. His son, Robert C. Jones, also became an editor, getting his impressive resume off to a fine start with John CassavetesA Child Is Waiting (1963).

Pic of the Day: “Rio Conchos” revisited

Let’s kick off the week with another look at Chico, the seedy cantina proprietor/pimp of Gordon DouglasRio Conchos (1964). Mexican bandit Juan Luis (Anthony Franciosa) is hoping that a shiny trinket will pay for some time with one of Chico’s girls. He is correct.

Rio Conchos

Franciosa was always a joy to watch, wherever he turned up – in films, on television (he worked with Timothy again in “Fear of High Places,” the premiere episode of The Name of the Game in 1968) or on the stage. Like Tim, he developed a “difficult to work with” reputation. He utters one of my favorite lines of all time in one of his first films, Elia Kazan‘s A Face in the Crowd (1957): “I’m gonna tell you something that will move you and shake you!” He was quite unforgettable in Dario Argento‘s Tenebre (1982). He died in 2006 at age 77, the result of a massive stroke.

Quote of the Week

Carey’s career as a character actor began with the role of a dead man in Across the Wide Missouri, directed by William Wellman, who, Carey recalled, “was a great director and a tough director. I had two arrows in my back laying in the water. I couldn’t hold still, it was so cold my teeth were chattering.The director said, ‘Keep that jerk still, he’s supposed to be dead’. I had just come from dramatic school in New York. I thought I was a great actor. I’m the only one who did.”

The pattern for Carey’s acting career was set. Director and player wrestled for control of a scene. Directors who afforded Carey room to operate, those who were able to understand his capabilities, worked well with him. Carey played the absolute heavy to the relative heavy in a string of hard-boiled dramas of the early ‘50s including Hellgate, The Big Carnival [aka Ace in the Hole] and Finger Man. […]

By the mid-50’s, Carey’s work had attracted the attention of a number of directors. Elia Kazan cast him in East of Eden, playing the bouncer at a brothel owned by James Dean’s mother. This experience would produce the only serious regret of Carey’s professional life. Kazan decided that the actor’s Brooklynese was not to his liking, and had Carey’s voice dubbed over, significantly marginalizing his presence in the film. He and Dean bonded during the production. This culminated in one of Dean’s infamous reckless Sunday drives through Salinas. After they returned to the set Carey said, prophetically, “I’m never getting in a car with him again.”

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

Across the Wide Missouri

Pics of the Day: “East of Eden” 1955 and 1981

Over a year ago I mentioned that I ought to do a side-by-side comparison of Timothy’s roles in both screen versions of John Steinbeck‘s epic 1952 novel East of Eden – the 1955 feature film helmed by Elia Kazan, and the 1981 television miniseries directed by Harvey Hart. So let’s do it already! Here are Joe the brothel bouncer from 1955, and the unnamed fire-and-brimstone preacher from 1981.

East of Eden (1955) East of Eden (1981)

It seems clear that no matter what the role, Tim knew how to command the screen. Well done.

Quote of the Week

You remember Timothy Carey, don’t you? Didn’t you see The Wild One? He’s the crazy guy who shook up the beer and squirted it in Marlon Brando‘s face. Did you see East of Eden? He was the surly bouncer at the brothel where James Dean‘s mother worked. Poor Tim mumbled his lines so badly that Elia Kazan had to have Albert Dekker re-dub all his dialogue. Tim thought Kazan missed the whole point. “That’s the way pimps talk,” he explained. How about The Killing, by Stanley Kubrick? He was the racist rifleman who shoots the horse at the racetrack to create a diversion for the heist. You must have seen Paths of Glory, another great Kubrick film – Carey is one of the three court-martialed soldiers sentenced to execution.

All his characterizations seem to inspire a common reaction: “What the hell’s the matter with this guy?” Tim Carey had a uniquely twisted screen presence that many great directors tried, and often failed, to harness. He was the only man that Kazan ever physically attacked on the set. Brando cast him in One-Eyed Jacks, and ended up stabbing him with a pen in exasperation. Carey didn’t seem to care; he went on being Tim Carey. When new friends, like the maverick actor/director John Cassavetes, came to Carey’s house for the first time, he made them wear a bulky, padded suit. He then turned his attack dog loose on them. “It’s not you,” Carey would howl. “He just hates that suit.”

Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris, Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of “Adults Only” Cinema (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 1996)

Eddie Muller and Marisa at Noir City Portland, 2014

Meeting Eddie Muller, “the Czar of Noir,” at Noir City Portland at the Hollywood Theatre, 09/19/2014