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.

Pic of the Day: “Flight to Hong Kong” revisited

Our pic today revisits the foreign intrigue potboiler Flight to Hong Kong (1956), directed by Joseph M. Newman. Diamond smuggler Tony Dumont (Rory Calhoun) enlists the aid of shady thug Lagarto at a dive bar in Macao.

Flight to Hong Kong

Here is yet another of Timothy’s early films that deserves a proper commercial DVD release. You can, however, buy or rent it digitally at Amazon Instant Video.

Quote of the Week

The three wonderfully distinctive personalities I encountered and will mention in this series were all outspoken, eccentric to be sure, but full of passion for the unusual things in life. They all shared a sharp and wicked sense of humour and a youthful exuberance that probably presented itself to most who crossed their paths. I’m fairly certain of this because I had friends who encountered them as well. I feel extremely fortunate to have met all three. Sadly they have all passed on.

Part 2:

Another strange but colorful personality belonged to Timothy Carey, a character actor extraordinaire who I first met and spoke with just outside a Century City movie complex during a Los Angeles Film Exposition. He was protesting alone, holding a sign about the Expo’s organizers not showing his film The World’s Greatest Sinner. He paced back and forth while shouting phrases like “They show other people’s films but they won’t show my film” and “I worked with Brando and Kubrick but they won’t show my film.” He almost sounded like the whiny character he played in Paths of Glory. When I spoke with him while he protested, he just reiterated the above. When I spoke with one of the Expo’s organizers, he stated simply “It’s a really bad film.” (I’ve never seen it).

I ran into him again outside of a privately owned L.A. health food store. The store’s Korean owners rather cynically referred to this strange guy as tending to their outside herb garden. At the time I was with a friend who was clinically diagnosed as psychotic and he seemed to easily develop a rapport with Mr. Carey, especially when he mentioned that Carey should consider selling the herbs growing in the small garden bed. So imagine my surprise when I got home and heard on my answering machine Timothy Carey’s message that “The herbs are in the offing” amidst a reference to watching with some friends one of his memorable scenes in Paths of Glory where he suddenly kills a cockroach.

Another close attorney friend of mine and movie buff met Carey and told me of his plans to appear in a play Carey wrote about a guy who farts someone to death. It was never produced to my knowledge and instead of appearing in his play my attorney friend became pallbearer at his funeral. Timothy Carey died at only 65 years of age in 1994. He improvised his way into acting immortality. His cinematic legacy has become truly inspirational. He possessed a real life persona that was above all else, honest, caring and genuine and will be sorely missed.

A.G. 

Timothy Carey (March 11, 1929 –  May 11, 1994) R.I.P.

Arthur Grant, “Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #5: The Eccentrics Part 2”; The Cinema Cafe, January 22, 2014

Convicts 4

Quote of the Week

Actor Timothy Carey was one of Hollywood’s true eccentrics, and when you consider how many crazy people there are in Hollywood, that’s no small claim. But even amongst that kind of competition Carey was a one-of-a-kind. Stanley Kubrick clearly saw something unique in him too, and gave him memorable roles in two of his early films, ‘The Killing’ and ‘Paths of Glory’, and from there the legendarily unpredictable Carey went on to become the ‘go-to’ man whenever a strange oddball character part needed to be cast. But he was also itching to make his own unique statement on film and from 1958 to 1961, whenever he could scrape a few bucks together he went about shooting scenes for his own labour of love: ‘The World’s Greatest Sinner’. Clarence Hilliard (Carey) is a frustrated insurance salesman who quits his meaningless job one day after he’s struck with the revelation that there is no god but man, and every man is a god whose birthright is eternal life. He starts preaching his gospel on street corners but after witnessing an ecstatic crowd at a rock and roll gig, Clarence forms his own band and soon learns how to get his message across while whipping his audience into a frenzy. With his growing fan base he decides to not only become the head of his own religious cult (rechristening himself ‘God Hilliard’ in the process), but also decides to form his own ‘Eternal Man’ political party and put himself forward as the next presidential candidate. But the biblical God has other ideas…

So as you can see, nothing too ambitious – just God, the universe and everything in between. But I have to be honest here, as fascinating as ‘The World’s Greatest Sinner’ is, it’s not a well-made film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s been made on a very low budget and for most of the running time the film is barely coherent. The direction is stilted, the editing is choppy and amateurish, and the cast are clearly people Carey just found on the street and said, ‘Hey, you’re in my movie. Now say this!’

But Carey’s as charismatic a presence as ever and the whole thing is still worth a look – even if it’s only the once – just so you can say you’ve seen it (Carey never put the film out on general release and for most of its 50-year history it’s been confined to an occasional special showing at selected cinemas). And believe it or not the title song is composed and sung by a young unknown named Frank Zappa. So altogether now: ‘As a sinner he’s a winner / Honey, he’s no beginner / He’s rotten to the core / Daddy, you can’t say no more / He’s the world’s greatest sinnnnner…’

Weirdness Factor: Off the scale
This one starts off being narrated by the devil in the form of a snake, and things only get stranger after that. I guarantee you will not find an odder movie anywhere else – this one really is in a class of its own.
The World's Greatest Sinner
 

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

Quote of the Week

Truly one of the greats, actor Timothy Carey was unparalleled in his career in his portrayals of creepy, scary, dirty, slimy swarthy bastards. No one did it better — no one ever will.

In addition to a very eclectic filmography as an actor,  he also directed at least one bonafide classic. (ITEM: I just spell-checked “Bonafide, and got “Bonaire!” Hahaha!)

Sadly, Timothy Carey died on May 11, 1994 as a result of his fourth stroke in less than six years, right before THE INSECT TRAINER went on stage.

IMO, he was both “The World’s Greatest Sinner,” and “The World’s Greatest Actor.” Certainly the former for his brilliant film of the same name, and certainly the latter in the categories of “Cult Actor” and “Villain!”

First about his being typecast as a “villain.” If you’re not familiar with the man’s work, just take a look at that mug of his. He was born to play the no good, the swarthy nasty who always gets the girl (although frequently, she doesn’t want him) and the downright evil — and he loved every minute of it. And it wouldn’t be too surprising if you were not familiar with his work. That’s part of what makes him a “Cult Actor” – you’ve got to work to find him. But the funny part is, you’ve probably seen him before because he was one of Stanley Kubrick’s favorite actors (but even Stanley probably couldn’t find roles for him in 2001 or Barry Lyndon).

NOTE: Sorry, but I need a break here. Eventually, I’ll probably write many pages on this unique actor. In the meantime, don’t miss his performance as the sleazy, racist “Horse Sniper” in Kubrick’s early classic, The Killing. Also, check-out Kubrick’s following film, the one even most all critics agree is a classic, Paths of Glory, where Carey is one of three soldiers sentenced to die (along with another fave, Ralph Meeker, who can be seen in just about the best example of film noir, Kiss Me Deadly), and his slow, measured breakdown into a whiny weasel begging for his life. And, you get Kirk Douglas, too. Finally, don’t miss his wild, uninhibited dance in Poor White Trash (aka Bayou), where Cajun-Carey out-Ziggys Bowie! I’m not kiddin’. In fact, the filmmakers liked it so much, they edited in/repeated the dance about four or five times in the film.

– Punchinello Beat/Scott Morrow, “Timothy Carey: Greatest Cult Actor”; 2005 (accessed 02/01/2015. Angelfire site; sorry about that!)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie