Anybody who thinks Hollywoodites are normal persons like the folks next door should meet Timothy Carey, the strangest, wildest actor of them all.
Carey played the role of the creepy killer in last year’s “The Killing,” one of the best whodunits of many a season. In person he is creepier and makes Marlon Brando and Jack Palance look proper as Sunday school teachers.
A Mobile, Ala., theater man [M.A. Ripps] who saw the picture got so excited over Tim that he produced his first movie, “Bayou,” in order to star the 24-year old [more like 27] Carey. Tim gets special billing in his next picture, “Paths of Glory,” starring Kirk Douglas.
But before this success were years of troubles, apparently because of his inhibited [sic – this must be a typo, surely they meant “uninhibited”] behavior.
– Aline Mosby, “Carey Is Strangest, Wildest Actor”; newspaper column, March 7, 1957
His noir work in 1957, however, was limited to a two-minute morsel in the Russell Rouse prison yarn House of Numbers. Star Jack Palance, himself a scary guy in most roles, looks positively intimidated by Carey in a scene in which they play San Quentin cellmates. Carey sets the mood by spitting a cigarette butt into the commode. He fidgets with a transistor radio in his pocket. With another weirdly concocted brogue (he is playing an inmate named Frenchy), he tells a story about beating another prisoner with his tray in the mess hall for trying to steal his milk. And then he offers with a warped grin, “You been to any other colleges? I have. I spent six years in Sing Sing and four years in Joliet. I’m taking a postgraduate course. This is my second time here.” The film was actually shot in San Quentin State Prison using real prisoners as extras, but no one in it – real or staged – played an inmate with such – er, conviction. House of Numbers is worth viewing just for Carey’s tiny but tasty part.
Our video for this week is the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman,” which first aired back on June 7, 1958. Timothy is Tiller Evans, the abusive suitor of saloon girl Boni Damon, played by Virginia Baker, who was married to (but separated from) Jack Palance at the time.
It’s frightening to watch Tim go from sweet to vicious in the space of about five seconds. It’s also rather irritating to see Marshal Dillon and Chester blame Boni for her predicament, rather than just say “Wow, that Tiller Evans is a jerk, he shouldn’t be hitting her like that. Let’s get him!” I know, it was the Fifties. Tim could now say that he was punched out on-screen by both Peter Graves andJames Arness. How many actors can say that?
Our pic today is another from House of Numbers (1957), the prison drama with a twist directed by Russell Rouse. Timothy is uncredited as Frenchy, colorful cellmate to Arnie Judlow (Jack Palance). I’m fairly certain that’s supposed to be a hearing aid he’s fiddling with.
Strangely enough, Tim also sported a hearing aid-like device (or maybe it’s a transistor radio?) in another of his prisoner roles, that of genial Nick in Convicts 4 (1962). A year after this film, he would manhandle Palance’s wife Virginia Baker in the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman” (6.7.58).
Our pic of the day revisits another of Timothy’s uncredited but distinctive small roles (he hated the term “bit part”). This one is from Russell Rouse‘s House of Numbers (1957), starring Jack Palance in a dual role as a prisoner and his brother who is helping him escape. Frenchy is the prisoner brother’s cellmate, who chats amiably about prison food and magazines he’s already read.
Strangely enough, two of Tim’s prisoner characters have this contraption in their ear – here and in Convicts 4 (1962). Not exactly sure if it’s a hearing aid or a transistor radio; I suspect the former. Also not exactly sure why it only turns up in his prisoner roles. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting character trait.
Today we take another look at House of Numbers (1957), the prison drama directed by Russell Rouse. Frenchy (another uncredited role) is sizing up his new cellmate, Arnie Judlow (Jack Palance), not knowing that it’s actually Arnie’s brother Bill. It’s all part of a daring escape plan.
For someone who didn’t smoke in real life, Timothy did an awful lot of smoking in the movies, especially early in his career. Well, it was the 50’s – you were pretty much required to smoke back then.
Our pic for today (and need I remind you to click to embiggen?) is a rather beautiful shot of Timothy as hateful Tiller Evans in the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman,” first airing on June 7, 1958. He has just gotten punched out by Marshal Dillon (James Arness) for being abusive towards Boni Damon (Virginia Baker), hostess at the Long Branch Saloon. Boni will soon be finding solace with “the gentleman” of the title, dapper Marcus France (Jack Cassidy).
Tim had worked the previous year with Baker’s then-husband, Jack Palance, in House of Numbers. Also the previous year, he got punched out by Arness’ brother, Peter Graves, in Bayou. Hollywood’s a small town!