Pic of the Day: “Revolt in the Big House” revisited

Our pic today takes another look at Revolt in the Big House (1958), the low-budget prison yarn directed by R.G. Springsteen. Big man on campus Bugsy Kyle holds forth while his lackeys Red (John Dennis, in the back) and Al (Sam Edwards) look on in approval.

Revolt in the Big House

My MSTie pals will recognize Edwards from Paul FreesThe Beatniks (1960). “Send up some more booze! You know, gas water! Laugh juice!” He spent pretty much his entire life in show business, making his stage debut as an infant in the arms of his mother, actress Edna Park, in a production of Tess of the Storm Country. He was a dependable character player in films and on television for decades, and also did lots of character voice work for Disney, among many others.


Quote of the Week

[Martin] Scorsese was shaken. He went home, summoned his friends, [John] Milius, [Brian] DePalma, [Steven] Spielberg, to his house on Mulholland. “Can you come up here right away?”

“Why?” Spielberg asked.

“Well, it’s an emergency.” Spielberg jumped in his Mercedes and drove over from Laurel Canyon. “I had never seen  Marty so upset,” he recalls. “Verging on tears, but leaning toward rage. He shattered a glass Sparkletts bottle all over the kitchen floor. We were holding his arms, trying to calm him down, find out why he was so upset. He finally came out with the fact that Columbia had seen his movie [Taxi Driver], had hated the ending, and wanted him to take out all the violence, the entire shoot-out, to cut away from the splintering fingers and the blood spouting and puddling. They felt the film was bound for an X rating, and he was being forced to Disney-ize it. Eventually he began to tell us the story of an actor, Timothy Carey, when he was auditioning for Harry Cohn in the early ’50s. In the middle of his audition, he broke down and said, ‘This is so humiliating standing up here and acting for you people who know nothing about actors, nothing about my art,’ and he pulled out a gun and fired at the executives, full-load blanks, and then had trouble getting a job for years after that. That was his [Scorsese’s] fantasy. He pointed a finger at Stanley Jaffe, and said, ‘He’s the head of the studio, he’s the guy I’m angry at, so I’m gonna get a gun and shoot him.’ He wasn’t serious about it, but he was relishing the rage, and he wanted us to share his anger.”

Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (Simon and Schuster, 1998)

Scorsese directing DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Scorsese directing Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver (1976)

Quote of the Week

One day on my first Dragnet, I stepped outside the soundstage to have a cigarette with Jack [Webb] and Ben Alexander. As we were standing there, we heard a commotion and looked toward the front gate of the Disney lot, and through a chain-link fence we could see a couple of studio guards chasing a tall guy in our direction. The guy came flying over the fence and landed on our side of it and grabbed a-hold of Jack’s lapels and pushed him up against the wall, babbling, ‘You gotta use me on the show! You gotta use me on the show!’ It was frightening! Turns out it was a madman of an actor named Timothy Carey. With a crazy look on his face, he demanded that Webb let him appear on Dragnet and Webb, obviously hoping to calm him down and get him to let go, said, ‘Yeah, sure, you’re in the show, when do ya want to start??’ Jack assured Carey that he would be in a Dragnet, and that quieted him down; the guards arrived at that point and took him away.

Timothy Carey might have been a great Dragnet villain but he scared the shit out of us. He was nuts! Carey was an actor who would do anything to get a role; I once heard that he went into the Columbia Studios office of the producer of the motion picture The Caine Mutiny, pulled a gun on him and said, ‘You gonna give me a part in this show?’ When you have that burning desire to be an actor and be on the screen, some people will do whatever it takes.

Paul Picerni, from Steps to Stardom: The Autobiography of Paul Picerni by Paul Picerni with Tom Weaver (BearManor Media, 2007)

Flight to Hong Kong

Timothy with Rory Calhoun in the only film he and Picerni did together (no scenes together though), Flight to Hong Kong (1956)