Quote of the Week

The Early Days
It is ironic that a man, whose name is so widely unrecognized, could make such an impression on so many people. You don’t forget Timothy Carey. The infancy of Carey’s career consisted of small roles, often playing “the heavy” or a sideline thug. Yet, Carey’s presence could not be overlooked.

Carey’s film career started small and didn’t really get to grow much more as time went on. His first film role came in 1951, with an uncredited role in Billy Wilder’s noir film The Big Carnival [Marisa’s note: AKA Ace in the Hole. Timothy may have been edited out of the finished film, however.] From there he played another small, uncredited part in the William A. Wellman‘s rustic western Across the Wide Missouri. After working in some forgettable films and playing small, miniscule parts, Carey got his first chance to really shine.

In André De Toth’s gritty noir drama, Crime Wave (1954), Carey’s appearance comes late in the film where he oozes malevolence as Johnny Haslett. He then spends a good deal of time off-camera babysitting the protagonist’s wife. A testament to Carey’s creepiness on screen, the brief glimpse of him as Haslett is enough to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Moving up from the number four thug to the crime boss’s right-hand man, Carey played Lou Terpe in Harold D. Schuster’s Finger Man (1955). Faithful to a fault, Carey makes the most of his small role, seething with pent-up penitentiary anger at the film’s wimpy hero.

Between his work in Crime Wave and Finger Man, Carey had a small part in the Marlon Brando vehicle, The Wild One. Carey was uncredited in the film, but even with the limited screen time and lack of respect he was given, he managed to turn in the most memorable performance in the film. With his spraying of the soda pop into Marlon Brando’s face, Carey carved his imprint into the minds of many, making his miniscule Chino Boy #1 credit much more than expected. And from there, his small but loud presence in many films to come, like East of Eden, Rumble on the Docks, and Revolt in the Big House, created the enigmatically fascinating actor that one can only call Timothy Carey.

– Sam McAbee, “Timothy Carey: Saint of the Underground”; Cashiers du Cinemart #12 (2001)

The Wild One

Quote of the Week

To the casual observer, Timothy Carey was one of filmdom’s most unusual character actors. He certainly was, but he was so much more. He was a force of nature. Notoriously challenging to work with, Carey did things his way and more than once butted heads with studio officials in Hollywood. In films like Crime Wave (1954), Finger Man (1955), East of Eden (1955), and Bayou (1957), his hulking 6’5″ frame, heavy features and rumbling voice demanded that you pay attention to him.

Stanley Kubrick did pay attention, and gave him his big breaks in The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). The characters he portrayed in these films – a sharpshooting racehorse assassin and an innocent scapegoated WWI soldier, respectively – were at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, but Carey was able to hone in on what made them both human. This was probably his greatest strength as an actor.

Marisa Young (HEY THAT’S ME!), “Let’s Not Hate Anyone: Timothy Carey and The World’s Greatest Sinner“; Cashiers du Cinemart 18 (March 2014) (Also available for your Kindle)

The Killing

Quote of the Week

But, as I mentioned, there is some dark stuff here. Hilliard’s initial street-corner evangelizing appears to have a positive message: Stop relying on some distant, impersonal God in the sky to give your life meaning; recognize the divinity within yourself. “Let’s be different,” he pleads. “Let’s not hate anyone.” These are admirable sentiments. But if every man is a god, then it follows that there is no God, so Hilliard appropriates the title for himself. As his followers begin to worship him, the madness grows. He indulges his every lust: for women, for power, for money, for fame. He abuses and rejects his loving family. He sees himself as exalted far above the “masses.” He forces a disillusioned follower to commit suicide. He becomes, simply, a horrible person.

Another actor might have had difficulty finding even the tiniest shred of something salvageable in “God” Hilliard. But Carey draws on his innate ability to bring humanity to the lowest of the low. The physical and emotional intensity he invests in the character is often painful to watch. When Hilliard wails inconsolably over the coffin of his recently deceased mother, the scene is made even more heartbreaking by the knowledge that Carey’s mother, Ida, passed away during filming.

Hilliard’s emotional state is so fragile that the death of his mother causes him to question everything. He challenges God to the ultimate showdown in one of the most audacious sequences ever filmed. The outcome of this conflict is still hotly debated by fans of the film. Does “God” win, or does God win? Or, perhaps, does Satan win? I know what I think. See the film and make the call yourself. And prepare to be dazzled by Timothy Carey, the holy fool with the heart of a poet and the vision of a prophet.

Marisa Young (HEY THAT’S ME!), “Let’s Not Hate Anyone: Timothy Carey and The World’s Greatest Sinner“; Cashiers du Cinemart 18 (March 2014) (Also available for your Kindle)

The World's Greatest Sinner

Quote of the Week

THE WEALTH OF UNREALIZED BRILLIANCE

Even if you try to sweep all of Carey’s misuse and abuse as an actor under the studio rug, you can’t look past all of his ingenious and insane film concepts that never saw the light of day. When it came to performances, you could safely say that Carey helped other actors create characters more often than he himself managed to play them (I’m not sure about this sentence in general. It’s confusing). Failed screen tests, in which the eventual actor of choice mirrored his performances, glutted Carey’s career.

His energy and naked honesty often made more enemies than friends. Carey’s characters weren’t allowed out of their cages. He would spend months developing the personality and behavior of a character only to have his screen time edited down to a moment or two. The reason? It seems as though his presence always took away from the stars; his energy and screen presence left everyone else looking flat and artificial. In this way, he was kind of like James Dean, who he worked with on Dean’s first major film, 1955’s EAST OF EDEN (Carey was uncredited).

When Carey took on the role of Joe, the brothel bodyguard in EAST OF EDEN, he brought his usual sense of off-the-wall style, making the most of what he had. He slurred and barked his lines like an animal, knee deep in hate and perversion. Undoubtedly, it was a colossal performance and broke out from the stilted performances of the rest of the cast. However, upon viewing the footage of Carey in action, director Elia Kazan ordered that all of his dialogue be re-dubbed by someone else. When asked about it, Carey blithely replied, “That’s how pimps talk.”

– Sam McAbee, “Timothy Carey: Saint of the Underground”; Cashiers du Cinemart #12 (2001)

East of Eden (1955)

 

Quote of the Week

Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena may be singular.  Tweets may be plural.  It either refers to a feature-length film or a series of shorts.

Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena is so obscure that Mike White from Cashiers du Cinemart drove 10+ hours to see a screening in Philadelphia.

Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena is the work of the late Timothy Carey of World’s Greatest Sinner fame. 

Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena is so bizarre it makes World’s Greatest Sinner seem like ABC Family fodder.

Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena is easily the most punishing film going experience of my life. 

– Mike Faloon, “That Which Doesn’t Kill You: Timothy Carey’s Tweets”; Go Metric April 16, 2010 (accessed July 13, 2014)

Tweet's

Quote of the Week

Timothy Agoglia Carey lived and died an underground legend.

The heavy-lidded, conspicuously tall actor crafted one of the most disjointed, overlooked and under-appreciated film careers in cinema history.

He was a man who refused to compromise, didn’t check his spelling, and never, ever listened to a goddamn word anybody said to him.

He wrote, produced and directed a play called THE INSECT TRAINER, which revolved around the power and the importance of farting.

He brought John Cassavetes over to his house, put him in a dog attack suit and let three rottweilers jump on him, while yelling words of encouragement from the next room, “It’s not you they hate, it’s the suit!”

Richard Widmark beat him up on the set of 1956’s THE LAST WAGON. Not to be outdone, in 1961 Carey was kicked in the ribs by Karl Malden and stabbed with a pen by Marlon Brando during the making of ONE-EYED JACKS.

He was one of the few actors Stanley Kubrick ever trusted to improvise a scene.

He faked his own kidnapping and ransom note during the filming of PATHS OF GLORY, just to get some press.

He led a life of strange brilliance. Carey’s passion for life blazed a trail of wide-eyed wonder that has been followed by such contemporary icons as Crispin Glover and Andy Kaufman.

Through all of this, and much, much more, he always remained true to the world he most definitely helped create and flourish: the underground.

– Sam McAbee, “Timothy Carey: Saint of the Underground”; Cashiers du Cinemart #12 (2001)

Paths of Glory lobby card

 

Quote of the Week

As much as I love and admire it, The World’s Greatest Sinner is a difficult film for me to write about. It is raw, crude and explosive. It is radical not only in content but in form as well, with crazy jump cuts, unexpected uses of color, and several shots edited in upside down. It explores some vital, often dark themes – political corruption, humanity’s relationship to the divine, the soul-crushing drudgery inherent in the 9-to-5 rat race, mass hypnotism and the herd mentality. I wonder, though, if these themes have a tendency to be obscured by the film’s overall in-your-face madness. It is hailed today in some quarters as the first “punk rock” film, and I would agree, but it’s so much more than sex, (no drugs) and rock ’n roll. At times it strikes me as resembling one of those lurid Jack Chick religious tracts come to life.

Marisa Young (HEY THAT’S ME!), “Let’s Not Hate Anyone: Timothy Carey and The World’s Greatest Sinner“; Cashiers du Cinemart 18 (March 2014) (Also available for your Kindle)

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Cashiers du Cinemart 18