Quote of the Week

Duress’ deep-set pale blue eyes, which we first encountered in 2014 as a Safdie brothers discovery in their harrowing heroin-addiction drama, Heaven Knows What, further remind me of another chambered stare, that of Timothy Carey: the eccentric, rowdy actor best known for playing characters pushed to rabid extremes. His minor roles, like Morgan Morgan in John Cassavetes’ 1971 Minnie and Moskowitz, are bizarrely tonic, scene-stealing, and charismatically coarse.

It’s a muggy July evening, and I’ve just mentioned the Timothy Carey comparison to Duress. Maybe that was a mistake. […] Grimacing at a picture of Carey on my phone, the 32-year old Duress exclaims, “I’m better looking than him!”

It’s true. I apologize—not because I think I’m wrong, but because I’m not properly articulating what I mean. Eventually I land on a photo of Carey that elicits a nod from Duress. “Yeah, he’s handsome there. I see it. I see it,” he says. “My ocular bones really stick out. People say I look like a raccoon at night.” What I try and fail to convey to Duress is how it’s more than merely his looks. The connection feels part of some deeper cinematic heredity.

Some faces—like Carey’s, like Duress’, with its big avian features—are meant to be photographed. As the journalist Grover Lewis once wrote, “Perhaps only the camera truly loved these kinds of mavericks and marginals…the work of certain low-billed jesters, sidekicks, and tough guys runs through movie history like the veins in a granite cliff.”

Durga Chew-Bose, Ext. Queens Evening – With Actor Buddy Duress; SSense.com (accessed 11.25.18)

915654-800wBuddy Duress, photo by Jody Rogac

More SINNER ephemera AND a NYC screening!

Today is definitely Sinner day here at the TCE! First up is a submission from friend of the blog Matt Meisenhelter of Pittsburgh, PA. Says Matt, “While going through some long boxed up correspondence, I came across the attached poster. It dates from, I’m guessing, 1991 or 92 and promotes a showing of The World’s Greatest Sinner. A college friend who’d migrated to LA sent it to me with a description of sorts of the film and experience. He described a wizened Carey introducing the film in his gold lame suit and how he was seen afterward in the lobby, ready to meet and talk with the moviegoers.” This sounds very much like the screening of the film that Grover Lewis described in his article of and interview with Timothy in Film Comment. Matt also tells me the poster was originally a vibrant pink but had faded over the years. I have taken the liberty of restoring it to its original pinkness. Many thanks, Matt!

SINNER screening flyer, 1992Next up, I am excited to tell you about an upcoming screening of Sinner in New York City next month! Please feel free to share this announcement:

Anthology Film Archives Screens The World’s Greatest Sinner!!! New York City

32 East 2nd Street, New York NY 10003

Hosted By Walter Ocner

The screenings will be Sat, July 18 at 9:00pm and Thurs, July 23 at 7:00pm!
Limited Seating

MONUMENTALLY RARE 35MM SCREENING! NEVER RELEASED ON VIDEO!

Hollywood maverick Timothy Carey was called plenty of things in his day: Genius…Rebel…Nut. Sometimes all three.

He was cast in major features by courageous directors like Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes, often playing a towering heavy or a leering criminal overlord. He brought a wildly unique fire to every role, and intensified it beyond comprehension for his own feature, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in: THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER.

In it, Carey plays insurance salesman Clarence Hilliard, who one day decides to change his name to “God” and build a powerful religion, using sex and rock n’ roll as his recruiting tools. It’s a truly legendary masterwork of outsider filmmaking that profoundly shocked audiences wherever Carey screened it (often renting out the theater and even running the projector himself).

Half a century later, the largely unseen film has become one of cinema’s great curiosities, impossible to find and entirely deserving of its infamy. You’ve never experienced anything like it, and you never will again.

Grab the snake, sip the blood, and sacrifice yourself to the inhuman artistry of Timothy Carey’s visionary blue-collar epic. After all, you don’t want to anger God, do you?

Sinner in crayon; artist unknownA delightful drawing provided by Walter Ocner. Artist unknown (Isaac something??)

Quote of the Week

Timothy Carey, best known for playing sometimes crazy, sometimes villainous, sometimes both characters in movies (Paths of Glory, The Killing, Beach Blanket Bingo) auditioned for the role of the gang boss [in Reservoir Dogs]. In an interview with Grover Lewis that eventually appeared in Film Comment (“Cracked Actor: Timothy Carey,” January/February 2004), Carey pinned his losing the role to Harvey Keitel: “Tarantino brought me in to read. He’d done a terrific script with my name on the top – ‘inspiration by Timothy Carey.’ Harvey Keitel didn’t want me on the show. He was afraid. I could tell when I walked in. He had the right to say yea or nay to any actor. Larry Tierney got the part. Larry’s a good friend of mine, and he called me up later and kind of apologized.” However, Carey failed to mention that, as seen on page 125 of Wensley Clarkson‘s book Quentin Tarantino: The Man, The Myths and His Movies [John Blake Publishing, 2007], the dedication on the script shows eight individuals – including himself and Tierney – a point that would come up with the next person who auditioned for the role [Robert Forster].

Dale Sherman, Quentin Tarantino FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Original Reservoir Dog; Hal Leonard Corporation, February 1, 2015

LT, Reservoir Dogs

LT in Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Quote of the Week

GL: Who else did you have trouble with?

TC: With Marlon [Brando] on The Wild One [53]. When I shook up a bottle of beer and let the foam go into his face, he didn’t like that. But he would be up-front about it. When I worked with him on One-Eyed Jacks, he told me, “I hope you’re not going to throw any more beer at me.” Marlon was great, but Karl Malden was kind of skittish. In our scene when he kicked me, he kicked me a lot, so I said, “Marlon, if this guy kicks me again I’m gonna clobber him.” But he kept doing it. He had a touch of Richard Widmark in him. Widmark stomped me bad in a Western we made in Arizona, The Last Wagon [56]. He stomped me while I was down, kept going at it for five minutes, just because I reacted when he mock-stabbed me in the scene. He apologized later, but I wouldn’t accept it.

Grover Lewis, “Cracked Actor: Timothy Carey”, Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992

One-Eyed Jacks

Pic of the Day: “A Time for Killing” revisited

Ending the week is another look at Phil Karlson‘s A Time for Killing (1967), the Civil War melodrama starring Glenn Ford. Billy Cat, “the Yankee from Missourah,” barks out some orders while Lt. Shaffer (Harrison Ford in his first credited screen role) looks confused and Col. Harries (Emile Meyer) watches in the background from the safety of his horse.

A Time for Killing

Meyer enjoyed a long career as one of Hollywood’s most dependable tough guys. Occasionally he did step out of the tough guy role, most memorably in Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory (1957), as the priest who accompanies Timothy to the firing squad. Tim told Grover Lewis in the Film Comment interview, “Emile Meyer, the guy playing the priest when we are being executed, also didn’t like me. He wanted to punch me because in my death scene I was biting his arm, saying, “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die” [laughs].”

Quote of the Week

Setting up an appointment with Carey was tricky. He is, for one thing, a recluse. On the other hand, as a benched performer, he craves attention. Finally, Romeo Carey, the actor’s [then] 32-year-old filmmaker son, smoothed the path for a series of encounters at the modest Carey family bungalow in the L.A. suburb of El Monte, not far from the Santa Anita racetrack. The neighborhood, quiet and working class, seemed far in psychic miles from Hollywood.

I’ll say it was a gas meeting Carey and get that out of the way. The character and the actor meshed seamlessly, and he responded to my interest like somebody who’d been in solitary and couldn’t stop talking once he started. If he was often over-the-top in his comments, he also seemed painfully insecure, even as his long index finger jabbed the air. He struck me as a man of high ideals, however curious—at once a show-off and a fragile dreamer. He answered my questions perched on a mock throne in his cluttered backyard studio, once again wearing his glittery Sinner costume. To add to the general bizarrerie, Romeo Carey filmed portions of the proceedings for a documentary-in-progress.

Grover Lewis, “Cracked Actor”, Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992

Tim's El Monte studio, from the Dead Flowers book

Timothy’s El Monte studio, from Dead Flowers (Vox Populi/Participant Press, 2011)

 

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.