In honor of the imminent release of Steve De Jarnatt’s gem of a short film Tarzana (1978) on video (yes, finally! Watch this space!), here is the director recalling his experience of working with Timothy on that film to Paul Rowlands of the Money Into Lightfilm blog.
How was working with the legendary Timothy Carey? What can you say about Timothy Carey? There was only one. A brilliant, extremely complicated and odd performer and human being. Some say Tim, who was in Paths of Glory (1957) and The Killing (1956), was the reason Stanley Kubrick moved to England, and I sort of know why. Tim would call me a couple times a week after the film was shot and talk (or perform) for an hour – it could be a freaky sort of thing – and poor Stanley probably couldn’t take it. This is how Tim would roll with someone he trusted. Now I just regret I didn’t record all those rambling Dali-esque monologues of his. When I got my first professional gig in the 80s, directing the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Man from the South” with John Huston and Kim Novak, Tim called up Universal and said he was my manager and was supposed to get 50% of everything I made. (In truth, my entire salary went to joining the DGA on that one). I sort of drifted off from contact with him, but when I was casting for my first feature, Cherry 2000, Tim began to hound me for the part of Six Finger Jake. I did go to bat for him, but the studio and producer nixed it. I was very fortunate to get Ben Johnson, but Tim never forgave me. I had betrayed him. Ah well.
What was the shoot like?
We planned on shooting ten days and after three days, Tim Carey had used up all the film. Well, that’s not true, I did. I sat there agape and watched him riff in these crazy improvs that had nothing to do with the movie. One of the improvs is its own little cult film, Cinema Justice (1977). We had to shut down production and look for more money.
I apologize for missing yesterday! A very busy weekend left me completely exhausted. But today we’re back with a pic from CinemaJustice, the six minute outtake from Steve De Jarnatt‘s as-yet-unreleased short homage to private dick flicks of the 1940s, Tarzana (1978). It’s developed somewhat of a cult following on its own, owing to its being frequently paired with The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962) at screenings around the world.
Before rehearsing the scene, neophyte director De Jarnatt made the unfortunate mistake of telling Timothy he could do “whatever he wanted” with the scene. Feeling unmoored, Tim went completely off-script and off the rails. Co-star Michael C. Gwynne made a valiant attempt to save the scene, which finally ended when the cameraman announced that they had run out of film. Gwynne later likened the experience to “visiting Niagara Falls”. Tarzana is now the property of Absolute Films, which is planning a release very soon. Watch this space!
Today’s pic is one I’m willing to bet you’ve never seen. It’s from the short film Tarzana (1978), directed by Steve De Jarnatt. It’s a wonderful tribute to the hard-boiled detective pictures of the 1940s and 50s. Timothy is customs agent Benny, who asks world-weary gumshoe Michael C. Gwynne to help him crack a mysterious case.
Tarzana has been little seen since its debut, and is now the property of Absolute Films, which I believe is planning an official release soon. An outtake from the film, known as Cinema Justice, has made the rounds of film festivals over the years and has become a rather notorious example of Tim going completely off the rails. Gwynne speaks of his involvement in the film and his friendship with Timothy in The Projection Booth podcast episode dedicated to Tim and The World’s Greatest Sinner (you can hear me on it as well). I do hope Tarzana is made available to the public very soon; it’s a real gem that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
We start off the week with another look at the Tenspeed and Brown Shoe episode “The Treasure of Sierra Madre Street,” first airing on June 20, 1980. Tim and his real-life pal Michael C. Gwynne are busting out of the mental hospital in pursuit of buried treasure. It’s a long story.
Tim and Gwynne first worked together in Steve De Jarnatt‘s short film Tarzana (1978), from which the famous outtake known as Cinema Justice was derived. Both of these gems are due for an official release, hopefully very soon. Keep your fingers and toes crossed, and watch this space.