Quote of the Week

GL: No offense, Tim, but did you ever drink a lot or use drugs?

TC: No, I’m a teetotaler. I never even smoked. People were always offering me grass or cocaine. I got my own cocaine – my own personality. I AM COCAINE. What do I need that stuff for?

GL: So, basically, you didn’t have any vices at all?

TC: Oh, yeah – I loved gambling and women. I used to live in Watts and go with black women all the time.

GL: All I have to go on is a list of your pictures and some wild stories I’ve heard around town. For instance, did you once tie up Otto Preminger in his office to get a role?

TC: False.

GL: … throw a snake into a closet where Ray Dennis Steckler was loading a camera, on the shoot of The World’s Greatest Sinner?

TC: Yeah, well, that’s what he claimed.

GL: And there’s this infamous screening of Sinner at Universal, where you stood by the door with a baseball bat and wouldn’t let the executives out.

TC: Naw, that’s one of the stories Cassavetes loved to tell, but we didn’t even screen the picture. We were up there to discuss a project of mine that John was promoting, a TV thing called “A.L.,” which is L.A. in reverse. But, no, I don’t use tactics like that. But my menace was my idea. I said, “When I work, nobody sits down and relaxes.” Cassavetes said it scared Ned Tannen. He and Danny Selznick were the ones who were there at the meeting.

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

Tim shooting AL in LA, 1956

Timothy during the unfinished shoot of his own version of his script A.L., 1956

 

Quote of the Week

GL: You got fired from your first job, didn’t you?

TC: That’s right. Billy Wilder fired me from Ace in the Hole [51]. I’d just gotten out of drama school in New York, and I’d gone to California, where they threw me out of Columbia Studios. So on my way back, I stopped to look up Wilder in New Mexico, where he was shooting. I said, “Mr. Wilder, I’m here, I’m Timothy Carey, I studied the Stanislawski method.” He said, “Ja, okay, you go sign up, tell them I sent you.” So I was in the show, playing one of the workers trying to dig the fellow out of the hole. And I’m watching the camera, angling to get myself in a full shot. I wanted to be in that scene so much I stood in front of Kirk Douglas. I wanted to be seen by the guys back in Brooklyn, you know. But all of a sudden someone taps me on the shoulder. “The director doesn’t want you anymore.” He gave me five vouchers, each worth $7.50. First show I worked on, first show I got fired from.

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

Ace in the Hole

Is that Timothy back there??

 

Pic of the Day: “Alaska Seas” revisited

Today we take another look at Alaska Seas (1954), the nautical adventure directed by Jerry Hopper. Fisherman Matt Kelly (Robert Ryan) has come to claim his boat from repairman Wycoff, who claims that Kelly owes him $920.60 and is very unhappy when Kelly offers him a fraction of that.

Alaska Seas

Wycoff comes across as quite a bit older than the 24 Timothy was when he made the film. He and Ryan worked together again in The Outfit (1973). Tim told Grover Lewis, “I did a show with Bob Ryan once – he was great, but he wouldn’t allow a lot of takes. ‘This is it,’ he’d say.” Alaska Seas is still available on Netflix Streaming, so give it a gander.

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?

Quote of the Week

GL: So you had a lot of trouble with other actors.

TC: A few of them didn’t like what I was doing, yeah. I did a show with Bob Ryan once – he was great, but he wouldn’t allow a lot of takes. “This is it,” he’d say. Adolphe Menjou didn’t care much for me, either. He was a man of the old school, and when we were in Munich shooting Paths of Glory, he thought I’d disgraced the company with my behavior. I had a toy monkey with me, and I was walking around with holes in my shoes.

GL: James Harris, the producer, told me you embarrassed the crew, that the Germans wanted to throw the whole company out of the country.

TC: Harris fired me. He made sure I’d done all my scenes, then fired me the next day. 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]. Kubrick pulled me aside and said [menacing whisper], “Make it good, Tim. Kirk doesn’t like it.” When he fired me, Harris said, “You’ve already stolen all the scenes!”

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

Quote of the Week

GL: I’m still trying to digest the fact that you passed up a role in The Godfather.

TC: I was offered a spot in both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. To play Luca Brasi in the first one, and the Mafioso boss who gets killed on the stairs at the opening of the second one. But I didn’t do either show, because if I had, I woulda been just like any other actor – out for the money. Francis [Ford Coppola] wanted me on the show, but I kept saying no. To get out of going to New York, I kept saying I wanted more money, and they got tired of it, I guess…

GL: What kept you out of Godfather Part II?

TC: I went to talk to Francis at Paramount. I already had the part, but I still wanted to do a scene. Francis and his pals were sitting around his office and I brought a box of cannolis and Italian pastries as gifts. I said, “I brought you this gift to pay respect to my friends,” and I reached down into those dripping cannolis and pulled out a gun – boom boom! – and blew the hell out of all of them. And then I shot myself and staggered over and fell on [producer Fred] Roos’s desk – all the contracts went flying. And Coppola grabbed my blank gun and shot me back – bang bang! – like a kid. It was byootiful – I took ’em completely by surprise. Francis was stunned, “How much do you want?” But Roos didn’t like it, so he went to work and influenced Coppola against me.

One guy, a little guy, was sitting there watching everything. A young kid with a camera, but he wasn’t filming. He just sat there with a mean, kind of  miserly . . . I could tell he was afraid by the lines on his face. Like he needed two inches of Chinese tonic. It was Martin Scorsese, somebody said.

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

Quote of the Week

GL: Are you generally known around the industry as a farter?

TC: Yeah, well, there are two responses, pro and con. Some take it as a joke, and others call me gross. I met a producer – Roderick Taylor, who did some sci-fi movies at Universal and was a former rock ‘n’ roll celebrity or something – and I did a strong report in front of him and his co-producer. And I have a really loud intestine, see. You know what they did? Ran out of the studio! It was incredible. Sometimes even John [Cassavetes] would be sort of embarrassed, like this one time when I let out two big, double-barreled blasts in his office at the Burbank studio. “Shhh, Tim!” And his face turned all red, because of the secretaries there, and it was – I dunno – just byootiful to look at him.

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