Pic of the Day: “Bayou” revisited

Today’s pic captures the hot-headed Cajun Ulysses, the most colorful denizen of Harold Daniels‘ swamp melodrama Bayou (1957), as he goes into his infamous dance. This screen cap catches the beginning of that amazing moment when he unbuttons and strips off his shirt while simultaneously twirling a distressed Marie (Lita Milan) around by her hair.

Bayou

Timothy enjoyed doing the dance during publicity tours for the film. “In New Haven, they put me on the stage to help whip up some interest in Bayou. They hollered when I did the dance,” he told columnist George Murray in 1958. Murray continued, “Carey admits the picture’s producers censored parts of his dance. He says modestly: ‘It out-Elvises Elvis.'”

Video of the Week: “Change of Habit”

EDITOR’S NOTE 10/01/14:  Another one blocked on copyright grounds. Sorry about that.

Today, the 79th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley, we present Change of Habit (1969), his final feature film and the only one in which he and Timothy both appeared (not together, to our great misfortune). Tim’s scenes as the irascible grocery store manager begin at 33:50 and 1:08:17.

During filming, “[Elvis] came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Timothy Carey? Didn’t you do The World’s Greatest Sinner?”” Tim told Grover Lewis in the Film Comment interview. “I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I always wanted to see that show. Do you have a 16mm version?’ I only had a 35mm, but we proceeded to talk about it. He knew all about it. I only had four prints. That was one of the reasons that I didn’t send it.” All hail the King! Oh, and Elvis too.

Quote of the Week

THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1963). Run, do not walk, to check out this movie! Timothy Carey, the character actor fave who appeared in everything from Kubrick‘s THE KILLING to The MonkeesHEAD, spent several years directing, writing and financing this below-low budget blast. One of the most bizarre movies ever made, and over three decades later, it’s STILL ahead of its time! A grotesque parable that’s as innovative and subversive as any film ever made. Carey sticks himself in the lead as Clarence Hilliard, a middle-aged insurance agent who goes nutzo and decides to become a rockabilly messiah. Abandoning his normal life, he changes his name to “God” and stands on street corners, handing out flyers, recruiting white-trash greasers to his fire ‘n’ brimstone “Life is Hell” doctrine. To raise money for his cause, he seduces old ladies for cash, and performs in an Elvis-like silver-lame suit. He even starts his own “Eternal Man” political party, which promises to make everyone a “superhuman being” (their motto: “There’s only one God, and that’s Man.”) This is seriously whacked stuff, folks, and Carey pulls off one of the most intense, overwrought performances of all time (putting novice scenery-chewers like Dennis Hopper to shame) – ranting, crying, dancing, and looking wasted, his eyelids at half-mast throughout. Eventually, Clarence’s followers begin rioting and vandalizing, but that type of social upheaval has to be expected when a new God emerges – especially one promising “No Death”. When the political machines get wind of his rock’n’roll charisma, they run him as an independent candidate for president, but Clarence is corrupted when his dogma takes on fascist overtones and he starts seducing cute, 14-year-old volunteers. Though lacking in little things like coherency, Carey packs this volatile tale with venom toward modern politics, the media, dried-up religion, and the entire sorry state of the human race. It’s even narrated by The Devil, represented by a snake! Carey is dead serious with all this craziness (even the heavily religious finale) and his outrageous direction is beyond belief! Most of the extras seem like they were simply pulled off the streets, and the score was provided by a young musician named Frank Zappa. Even its theme song is hilariously unforgettable: “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 sinner.” This is a true work of warped genius.

– Steve Puchalski, Shock Cinema magazine #6 (1994)

The World's Greatest Sinner

Pic of the Day: “Change of Habit” revisited

Better late than never, today’s pic revisits Change of Habit (1969), Elvis Presley‘s last feature film. Timothy’s grocery store manager is about to give Sister Barbara (Jane Elliot) a deal on a mop handle, not realizing that she is his activist nemesis.

Change of Habit

This was also the last feature film for Richard Carlson, who portrays the nuns’ superior Bishop Finley. Most remember him from such 1950s horror/sci-fi classics as Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), It Came from Outer Space (1953) and The Magnetic Monster (1953). He also did several educational shorts for Bell Labs that were directed and/or co-written by Frank Capra.

Pic of the Day: “Change of Habit” revisited

Greetings from Pasadena, California! Our pic for today revisits Elvis Presley‘s last feature film, Change of Habit (1969), directed by William A. Graham. Timothy’s unnamed and uncredited market manager pauses in his labors to chow down. He’s a real class act.

Change of Habit

More to come as our California adventure continues! This is Tweet’s Lady of Pasadena signing off. Toodle-oo!

Quote of the Week

Tim Carey, 27

Not at All Shy.

His Publicity man said of Tim Carey: “He needs a press agent like he needs a hole in the head. He’s his own best advance man.”

Carey, an unsophisticated 27, is at the Ambassador East to beat the drums for Bayou opening tonight in the Monroe Theater.

Carey is an actor—off as well as on. He’ll tell you: “We were shooting this picture in New Orleans. I told the cabby I had to learn to dance real wild. He took me to the French Quarter.”

It was there, Carey says, that a girl named Lilly Christine at “The 500 Club” did a special dance. They billed her as “The Cat Girl.”

Carey watched her every night for a week. Later, he recalls:

“In New Haven, they put me on the stage to help whip up some interest in Bayou. They hollered when I did the dance.”

Carey admits the picture’s producers censored parts of his dance. He says modestly: “It out-Elvises Elvis.”

George Murray, “Loop Movies,” Chicago Daily News, January 15, 1958

The 500 Club in New Orleans, starring Lilly Christine

Pic of the Day: “Change of Habit” revisited

In honor of today being Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday anniversary, today’s pic is another from his last theatrical film, Change of Habit (1969). Timothy appears in an uncredited role as the manager of the Ajax Market, who is not very sympathetic to his customers.

Change of Habit

It’s a shame Elvis and Tim shared no screen time together, but they did have an encounter on the set. As Tim related in the Grover Lewis interview, “[Elvis] came up to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Timothy Carey? Didn’t you do The World’s Greatest Sinner? I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I always wanted to see that show. Do you have a 16mm version?’ I only had a 35mm, but we proceeded to talk about it. He knew all about it. I only had four prints. That was one of the reasons that I didn’t send it.” I’m sure Elvis was dying to check it out, given that God Hilliard’s rock and roll persona was obviously inspired by Elvis. I wonder if he ever got a chance to see it?