Quote of the Week

MARON:  Now, coming full circle, do you know – are you familiar with Timothy Carey?

GLOVER:  Yes! I went to his house – (laughs)

MARON (laughing): I knew it! I knew it!

GLOVER:  Yeah, I went to his house in the ’80s, late ’80s.

MARON:  Like, is he a role model?

GLOVER:  Well, there were two actors when I was studying acting – I could always detect, I could always figure out what the method, for lack of a better word, was that an actor was employing to get to their state. But there were two actors that I did not feel that way about. One of them was Andy Kaufman, and the other was Timothy Carey. And I never met Andy Kaufman, but I had the opportunity to go to Timothy Carey’s house, and it was a very, it was a really – it was really fascinating. I’m very glad I had that experience.

MARON:  When I, when I sort of started –

GLOVER:  Did you know him?

MARON:  No no no, but when I started thinking about you, and about, you know, sort of – not a template but somebody who was within the system and then started to kind of really break away in an extreme way, I thought about Timothy Carey, who I loved in some of the earlier movies; I’m not that familiar with his work, you know – 

GLOVER:  Well, have you ever seen The World’s Greatest Sinner?

MARON:  No.

GLOVER:  He directed it.

MARON:  Right, right. No, I know about the movie but I’ve not seen it.

GLOVER:  It’s worth seeing. I saw it for the first time at his house. He didn’t have it out on DVD at the time and he –

MARON:  That’s the one that Zappa did the soundtrack for, correct?

GLOVER:  Yes, I believe that’s right, yeah.

MARON:  What was your experience with Timothy Carey?

GLOVER:  Well, it was fascinating.

MARON:  Yeah. You were going there to figure him out, in a way.

GLOVER:  Yes.

MARON:  How did that happen? How did you get the opportunity to go there?

GLOVER:  A friend of mine, Adam Parfrey

MARON:  I know Adam Parfrey, I’ve interviewed him.

GLOVER:  Oh you did? OK great, great. Adam –

MARON:  It makes sense, it’s all coming together. Apocalypse Culture, the first volume, changed my life. And it seems like you’re kind of symbiotic –

GLOVER:  Yeah, he’s a great publisher. He’s in my first film, he’s in What Is It? 

MARON:  His father was a character actor as well.

GLOVER:  That’s right. That’s something he and I have in common. […]

MARON:  So he set you up with Timothy?

GLOVER:  Well, there was a friend of his, or somebody he was acquainted with, that had been in contact with Timothy Carey, and so that was set up so that the three of us went to Timothy Carey’s house. We were there for a number of hours.

MARON:  And what did you glean?

GLOVER:  (laughs) Well, um, (laughs) I’m trying to think if it’s right to say, but – (long pause) he was – (laughs) (long pause) (laughs) – the first hour was spent talking, Timothy Carey talked about passing gas, and the health of this –

MARON:  Uh huh. For an hour. 

GLOVER:  Yes. (laughs) And at first of course it was kind of funny, the first 15 or (laughs) 20 minutes it was funny. And then, and then – (MARON laughs) – it was very serious. He wasn’t doing it as a joke. And then it wasn’t really so funny (he and MARON continue to laugh throughout). And then it was kind of funny again. We were there for several hours.

MARON:  Well, you watched the film, right?

GLOVER:  Eventually – probably about two hours into it. We were at his guest house, which was larger than this and was kind of his studio, and we were out there for most of the time. Then we went into his living room and he showed us the film, which was excellent. It’s a very interesting movie. And then I asked him – what I noticed about him, I went and saw both East of Eden and…

MARON:  The Killing?

GLOVER: And The Killing. I think I saw The Killing a little later.

MARON:  Paths of Glory

GLOVER:  Paths of Glory I saw later. But I noticed when I was watching the films [Ed. note: The other film must have been One-Eyed Jacks]– you know, James Dean is one of those actors that you’re studying as a young actor, and Marlon Brando – but in those scenes, Timothy Carey has fight scenes with both of them in bars. But in those scenes, my eye was not on James Dean, my eye was not on Marlon Brando, it was on Timothy Carey. But the part that I hesitate to say a little bit but maybe I’ll say it – at one point – you hear a lot of different tales, I don’t know if you’ve heard a lot of tales about Timothy Carey, but I’ve heard a lot of tales about him that are fascinating. Like he disappeared during the shooting of Paths of Glory in Germany. If you look at the film, his character is in shadows at a certain point in the prison. But he wasn’t originally supposed to be in the shadows. He disappeared during the middle of production. I’ve heard different tales as to how he was found, but essentially they just had to hide his character and then they put him back in once he showed back up again. Also I think he met his wife in Germany there, and Kubrick did as well. So there’s something in common. But he kind of pointed at his head at one point and said – I almost feel like I’m betraying something private. He said something about his mental health. So it was fascinating to me because I realized that part of what was hard for me to detect about him was there was something going on, I gleaned or assumed from talking to him, that was essentially undetectable because he was having, for lack of a better word, mental health issues. And so that’s part of why I would say probably it was hard for me to detect what his specific method was. Like Marlon Brando, he’s a great actor but I can essentially understand what he’s employing to get to the state, or James Dean. But like I said, I never met Andy Kaufman so I don’t know exactly where it was coming from. And Timothy Carey, even having had that meeting of course, I don’t know the exact neurons, so to speak, for getting to that point.

MARON:  Well, you’re sort of one of those guys too. 

GLOVER:  Well, I probably early on have always been interested in the idea of art and madness, for the lack of a better word, as being good for art.

Crispin GloverWTF Podcast with Marc Maron #673 (01.18.16)

glovermaron

Quote of the Week

“The World’s Greatest Sinner” and the Big Timothy Carey Question

Timothy Who? Timothy Agoglia Carey, sometimes Tim Carey, most of the time Timothy Carey. 1929-94. This character actor (dis)graced American screens for five decades, playing vile, despicable and loathsome scum of the earth, void of any redeeming quality.

What has he been in? You might be familiar with The Wild One (1953), East of Eden (1955), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) to mention a few out of 50 something screen appearances – not counting television, which credits for about 50 more. Despite this sizable curriculum, he was quite possibly fired more often than any other actor in Hollywood, for example by Billy Wilder and Arthur Penn, and also quite willfully turned down parts in movies such as the first two Godfather films as well as Kubrick‘s Spartacus.

Why so vile, despicable etc? Well, he throws a beer in Brando‘s face, beats up James Dean, crushes a cockroach, pushes a girl into a bowl of chili, shoots a horse and verbally abuses a black man, all this in the most unspeakable of ways. And all this during the first ten years of his career…

If so vile etc – why is he worth watching? This 193 cm/6′ 4″ male specimen sported a pair of heavy-lidded eyes that matched Robert Mitchum’s, a set of clenched teeth that beat out Burt Lancaster’s, a dance routine that would have frightened James Brown and tantrums that outdid Harvey Keitel’s. This is partly why.

The World’s Greatest Sinner? A film he wrote, directed, produced and starred in, shot between 1958 and 1961, and released in 1963. He plays Clarence Hilliard, an insurance salesman who quits his job, changes his name from Clarence to God (he keeps Hilliard) and starts his own political/religious movement, promising to turn everyone into “millionaires, gods, super human beings!” He dons a silver lamé suit [NB: It was actually gold] and becomes a (very unlikely) rock ‘n’ roll idol, then runs for president of the United States as the candidate of The Eternal Man Party. The film is narrated by a snake and was promoted as “The most condemned and praised American movie of its Time”, but soon disappeared from the public eye. Among the few people who saw it were Frank Zappa, who wrote the film’s songs and called it the world’s worst film, and John Cassavetes, who said it had the emotional brilliance of Eisenstein. Among the people who didn’t see it was an indifferent Ingmar Bergman, despite the fact that Carey sent a friend to Sweden with a print earmarked for the director’s viewing pleasure, as well as a most enthusiastic Elvis Presley, on whom Carey did not want to waste a precious print, as he only had four left.

Carey and Vienna? Some almost five decades late, in November 1st, 2009, The World’s Greatest Sinner finally had its Austrian premiere. A packed audience at the legendary Gartenbaukino cinema in Vienna savoured the treat with awe. A tribute section devoted to selected Carey gems included Head (featuring pop group The Monkees and written by Jack Nicholson), Minnie and Moskowitz, Paths of Glory, Poor White Trash (a sordid exploitation story in which scary Carey is again seen doing a crazy dance), and another Carey directorial effort, Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena, in which he plays a kind (!) member of a ladies knitting club who constantly roller-skates and wants to clothe naked animals. Along for the ride was Romeo Carey, one of four [NB: Actually six] of the actor’s children, providing insightful information on his father’s career (as well as being living proof of the fact that Carey, apart from being vile, despicable and loathsome, also was a family man) and guiding us through a highly unusual career (which also include a one-man stage performance on the topic of flatulence).

So is he just a cult guy? True, if Carey is in a film, even if it’s Francis the Talking Mule in the Haunted House, it’s worth seeing. Even in the smallest of parts, he manages to steal from the greatest of greats – some of them feeling surprisingly outdated these days, whereas Carey himself remains utterly watchable. In this respect, he comes across as a forerunner of sorts to actors like Vincent Gallo, Harvey Keitel and even Michael Richards, whose Kramer character in Seinfeld arguably owes a moment or two to Carey. In other words, this is an actor with a resonating presence. The idea of giving Carey a well-deserved tribute is thus highly appropriate, as well as being film festival retrospective programming at its finest.

Why has no one come up with this idea before? That’s The Big Timothy Carey Question. Quite simply.

"He's the World's Greatest Sinner" by eyeodyssey on Deviantart

“He’s the World’s Greatest Sinner” by Aaron Dylan Kearns (eyeodyssey) on DeviantArt

Video of the Week: Behind the scenes of “East of Eden” (1955)

Sixty years ago today, James Dean lost his life in a dreadful automobile accident. Our video this week celebrates that short but incandescent life. Culled from the archives, it’s a rare collection of behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of East of Eden (1955) in Mendocino, California in the spring of 1954. It can be found in the bonus material of the DVD release of James Dean: Born Cool (2001). Timothy just might be lurking unseen (or barely seen) in the background of some of this footage, but a very good glimpse of him starts at about 6:34 in – in case you couldn’t tell, he’s that tall drink of water dressed all in black, talking with a couple of fellows and chewing gum vehemently.

Today is also the perfect day to revisit Timothy’s reminiscences about his friendship with Dean during the making of the film. I often consider how much better off we all would be if both of these men were still with us.

Quote of the Week

Scene

1957 / Paths of Glory – Timothy Carey kills a cockroach.

U.S. Director: Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Ralph Meeker, Timothy Carey.

Why It’s Key: A quintessential character actor achieves his apotheosis when his character kills a bug.

To cover up his vain blunders, a French general (George Macready) in World War I orders three of his soldiers (Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel, Timothy Carey), chosen almost at random, to be court-martialed and then shot by a firing squad for dereliction of duty, as an example to their fellow soldiers. When their last meal is brought to them, they can mainly only talk desperately about futile plans for escape and the hopelessness of their plight. Then Corporal Paris (Meeker) looks down at a cockroach crawling across the table and says, “See that cockroach? Tomorrow morning, we’ll be dead and it’ll be alive. It’ll have more contact with my wife and child than I will. I’ll be nothing, and it’ll be alive.” Ferol smashes the cockroach with his fist and says, almost dreamily, “Now you got the edge on him.”

We’re apt to laugh at the absurdism and grotesquerie of the moment — especially Timothy Carey’s deadpan delivery, as if he had a mouthful of mush and was soft-pedaling the phrase like Lester Young on his tenor sax. One of the creepiest character actors in movies, he doesn’t fit the period; even if we accept him as a French soldier, accepting him as one in World War I is more of a stretch, because he registers like a contemporary beatnik. That’s also how he comes across in East of Eden, One-Eyed Jacks, The Killing, or The Killing of Chinese Bookie. But for precisely that reason, he gives the line the existential ring it deserves.

Paths of Glory

Quote of the Week

TV STORE ONLINE: On that note… You also worked on another exploitation film called CHESTY ANDERSON U.S. NAVY [1976].  Didn’t you work with nutzoid actor Timothy Carey on that film?
FRED WILLARD: Yes, I did that movie. I have no clue though how I got involved with that project. I think I played an undercover detective, didn’t I? I thought it was a good idea. Didn’t the actress who played Chesty Anderson do some Russ Meyer movies? I was sort of a fan of Timothy Carey. I had originally seen him in EAST IN EDEN [1955]. He was a very nice guy. He was also very eccentric. He talked really fast. He was quite an interesting character for sure.
Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy

Quote of the Week

In Elia Kazan’s classic John Steinbeck adaptation East of Eden (1955) Carey is a pimp/bodyguard for Jo Van Fleet’s character in a brothel she runs and is ordered to throw her son Cal (played by James Dean) out the door when he comes to see her. Right away you notice a spark of brutality and weirdness from Carey’s arrival onscreen. As preparation for his role as “Joe” the pimp, Carey tried mumbling all his lines because he thought it was “how pimps talked”. At a certain point Kazan got so angry at his annoying interpretation, he stabbed Carey with a pen in the shoulder. He and Dean actually became friends during the production. One day they went on a car ride through Salinas after which Carey stated he would never get in a car with him again due to his reckless driving habits. Dean would later die in what is now an infamous car crash.

Peter (just Peter), “Mad As Hell Heroes: TIMOTHY CAREY… What a Character!”; Furious Cinema, November 11, 2013

on the set with James Dean

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