From “Brando Rides Alone”

I’d like to share with you this piece from Barry Gifford’s Brando Rides Alone (2004), his meditation on the film One-Eyed Jacks (1961).

3. Timothy Carey

Now here’s a character, a real character let alone a character actor. I’ll never, ever forget Timothy Carey as the rifleman who shoots and kills the racehorse in Kubrick’s The Killing, or as the mob thug in Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and certainly not as the drunken lout in One-Eyed Jacks. With a lock of lank black hair always falling over one eye, Carey careened around menacingly in whatever context he appeared. His voice was deep but sounded as if he were always gargling, words bubbling up, burping at his listeners. Carey was big and darkly depraved looking – out of control scary, which often made him seem worse than Lawrence Tierney’s troubled personae. If little kids saw him lurching along the sidewalk headed their way, they’d abandon their toys and run. I saw him on a latenight TV talk show, wearing a too-small Hawaiian shirt, detailing for the horrified host his life’s work: the study of flatulence. He was deranged, not dangerous, I guessed. Tom Luddy, who worked for Francis Coppola, once gave me, for a reason I no longer remember, Timothy Carey’s address and telephone number, which I still have in my directory – he lived in El Monte, California – but I never got in touch with him other than telepathically, and a few years ago he died. In an essay I wrote about an absurd little 1955 movie called Finger Man, I described Carey as being unequaled at The Unbridled Snarl. He couldn’t control his hands or his hair. He justified the French intellectual’s image of the typical American male. And just what do I know about how French intellectuals think? you may well ask. And while you’re at it, exactly what – or who – is a typical American male?

One response to “From “Brando Rides Alone”

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