Quote of the Week

A combination of hepcat messiah, hulking loner and life-long loose cannon, the great character actor Timothy Carey (1929 – 1994) cut a fearsome, unforgettable figure on-screen, whether it was manhandling James Dean in EAST OF EDEN, throwing beer in Brando’s face in THE WILD ONE, or moaning pitifully on his way to execution in PATHS OF GLORY. Carey was cast most often as a menacing gunman/enforcer, a role he played with relish in crime classics like THE KILLING, CRIME WAVE and THE OUTFIT. His off-screen reputation was just as notorious – Carey once got caught scaling the fence at 20th Century Fox in full armor to audition for PRINCE VALIANT, and he faked his own kidnapping in Germany during shooting on PATHS OF GLORY.

In reality, Carey was a restless, completely dedicated performer who counted John Cassavetes among his closest friends, and acted each role “like it’s the last film I’m gonna make, and I want it to be the best” (Carey.) His self-made 1962 masterpiece THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER – in which an ordinary man declares himself “God” in a SoCal suburb – fully deserves its reputation as one of the most outrageous underground movies ever made.

American Cinematheque, “The World’s Greatest Sinner! A Tribute to TIMOTHY CAREY”, November 4-5, 2000

Keep Calm and Watch TC!


Quote of the Week

You remember Timothy Carey, don’t you? Didn’t you see The Wild One? He’s the crazy guy who shook up the beer and squirted it in Marlon Brando‘s face. Did you see East of Eden? He was the surly bouncer at the brothel where James Dean‘s mother worked. Poor Tim mumbled his lines so badly that Elia Kazan had to have Albert Dekker re-dub all his dialogue. Tim thought Kazan missed the whole point. “That’s the way pimps talk,” he explained. How about The Killing, by Stanley Kubrick? He was the racist rifleman who shoots the horse at the racetrack to create a diversion for the heist. You must have seen Paths of Glory, another great Kubrick film – Carey is one of the three court-martialed soldiers sentenced to execution.

All his characterizations seem to inspire a common reaction: “What the hell’s the matter with this guy?” Tim Carey had a uniquely twisted screen presence that many great directors tried, and often failed, to harness. He was the only man that Kazan ever physically attacked on the set. Brando cast him in One-Eyed Jacks, and ended up stabbing him with a pen in exasperation. Carey didn’t seem to care; he went on being Tim Carey. When new friends, like the maverick actor/director John Cassavetes, came to Carey’s house for the first time, he made them wear a bulky, padded suit. He then turned his attack dog loose on them. “It’s not you,” Carey would howl. “He just hates that suit.”

Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris, Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of “Adults Only” Cinema (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 1996)

Eddie Muller and Marisa at Noir City Portland, 2014

Meeting Eddie Muller, “the Czar of Noir,” at Noir City Portland at the Hollywood Theatre, 09/19/2014

Quote of the Week

In honor of today being the 115th birthday anniversary of Elia Kazan, Timothy recounts an incident that took place during the filming of his fight scene with James Dean in East of Eden (1955),


Elia Kazan, the master realist, began to get nervous, though. He yelled, “Cut,” and called me over.

“Now take it easy, Carey,” he told me. “We won’t have this actor very long if you keep this up.”

So I took it easy in the next few takes. Then we had a short break and went over to Kazan. Jimmy put his arm around Kazan, and said, “I don’t know, Gadge. I don’t get the feeling. Why doesn’t Tim really open up on me?”

Again, I cut loose. I was flabbergasted. Jimmy seemed like he wanted to be tortured. Me, I was bewildered. I was afraid I’d get thrown out of the picture.

Later, Solly Baiano, the Warner casting director, gave me a tip.

“You’d better take it easy, Tim,” he said. “I know you’re a good actor, but don’t over-do it. Kazan is sensitive.”

– from Timothy’s article “The Highways of Heaven”, Movie Stars Parade magazine, September 1957

With Elia Kazan and James Dean on the East of Eden set

Quote of the Week

“I took Dean and that guy who played the bouncer (Timothy Carey) fishing on the rocks above Portuguese Beach, and Glenn Walbridge took them up Big River to fish off the old logging boom. I don’t remember if we caught anything but we probably did.” – Bob Valador

– from James Dean in Mendocino: The Filming of East of Eden; compiled and edited by Bruce Levene (Pacific Transcriptions, 1994)

photo from destinationmendocino.com

Portuguese Beach, Mendocino, CA (photo via destinationmendocino.com)

East of Eden (1955)

“C’mon Jimmy, quit acting crazy and let’s go fishing.”


Quote of the Week


Even if you try to sweep all of Carey’s misuse and abuse as an actor under the studio rug, you can’t look past all of his ingenious and insane film concepts that never saw the light of day. When it came to performances, you could safely say that Carey helped other actors create characters more often than he himself managed to play them (I’m not sure about this sentence in general. It’s confusing). Failed screen tests, in which the eventual actor of choice mirrored his performances, glutted Carey’s career.

His energy and naked honesty often made more enemies than friends. Carey’s characters weren’t allowed out of their cages. He would spend months developing the personality and behavior of a character only to have his screen time edited down to a moment or two. The reason? It seems as though his presence always took away from the stars; his energy and screen presence left everyone else looking flat and artificial. In this way, he was kind of like James Dean, who he worked with on Dean’s first major film, 1955’s EAST OF EDEN (Carey was uncredited).

When Carey took on the role of Joe, the brothel bodyguard in EAST OF EDEN, he brought his usual sense of off-the-wall style, making the most of what he had. He slurred and barked his lines like an animal, knee deep in hate and perversion. Undoubtedly, it was a colossal performance and broke out from the stilted performances of the rest of the cast. However, upon viewing the footage of Carey in action, director Elia Kazan ordered that all of his dialogue be re-dubbed by someone else. When asked about it, Carey blithely replied, “That’s how pimps talk.”

– Sam McAbee, “Timothy Carey: Saint of the Underground”; Cashiers du Cinemart #12 (2001)

East of Eden (1955)


Pic of the Day: “East of Eden” publicity still

Today’s pic is a variation on the familiar promotional shot of Timothy manhandling James Dean in Elia Kazan‘s East of Eden (1955). This one, less commonly seen, appears to have been taken a few seconds later (or earlier, it’s hard to tell), with Tim deep in shadow.

East of Eden publicity still

Tim described shooting this scene in “The Highways of Heaven”, his article on his friendship with Dean that appeared in Movie Stars Parade magazine in 1957. “In our next fight sequence, I was supposed to pummel Jimmy as he ran through the hallway after leaving his mother’s office. I grabbed hold of his hair; we got into a struggle, I hit him and almost caved in the side of his face. He never said anything. I couldn’t understand the guy. Any other actor would have called the cops. But not Jimmy. That’s the way he wanted it – real.” Whether or not Dean truly had, as has long been rumored, a masochistic streak, he certainly was the kind of actor who preferred to keep things real.

Video of the Week: “The Wild One”

In honor of the legendary Lee Marvin‘s 90th birthday anniversary, we present the famous fight scene from The Wild One (1953), directed by Laslo Benedek. Timothy, uncredited as an enthusiastic member of Chino’s gang, sits on his motorcycle observing Chino as he eggs on Johnny (Marlon Brando). Later on during the fight, he splashes the contents of a bottle of beer over Chino while urging him to get up and finish Johnny off. This has been referred to in some quarters as the “throwing beer on Brando” incident.

Actually, as you can see, Marvin is the only one who actually gets beer thrown on him. Tim gestures a little too wildly with bottle in hand, and Brando gets a few drops on him. As Timothy mentioned in the James Dean article, “I played the scene with enthusiasm, but Brando didn’t seem to appreciate it. He finally turned to director Laslo Benedek and said, ‘Get that guy off the set. He makes me nervous.’” When Brando directed Tim years later in One-Eyed Jacks (1961), he told him, “Just don’t throw beer on me again, OK?” Tim replied, “If I do, Marlon, it’ll be good beer; it’ll be German beer.”

Video of the Week: “East of Eden” (1981)

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I wanted to post something appropriate to the holiday, but wasn’t sure what would fit the bill. Then I discovered that some kind soul had finally put this up on YouTube, and the day was saved. This is part one of the three-part East of Eden television miniseries that made its debut on February 8, 1981. Timothy appears in a priceless cameo role as a circuit-riding preacher at about the 1:15:28 mark.

It’s a nice little in-joke for those of us who know that he also appeared in the 1955 film with James Dean, as a fellow about as far away from being a preacher as it’s possible to get. All of us here at the blog hope you’re having an extra-special holiday season, no matter what your affiliation. At the very least, we wish you happy times with family and friends.

Quote of the Week

Timothy Agoglia Carey is directing a play in Hollywood this month about death by farting [The Insect Trainer]. He’s been acting in films since 1951, was in classics with Brando and Dean, worked several times each for Kubrick and Cassavetes, was in the exploitation classic POOR WHITE TRASH [aka Bayou pre-exploitation] and made a movie that would be a cult classic if only people could see it – WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER. In various books, the 6’4″, now 65 year old [sic – he was actually 61 at the time of this interview] Carey has been called “a heavy eyed character actor, often a loathsome villain”, “totally without attractive characteristics, repulsive looking”, and “the least lovable actor since Rondo Hatton“. He’s also considered a great actor and his fans in the business include Jack Nicholson, Peter Falk and Brando. Here, often in his own words, is the Timothy Carey story.

Psychotronic Video magazine #6, Summer 1990; interview by Michael Murphy and Johnny Legend, research by Michael J. Weldon

Timothy with Michael Murphy, 1989

Timothy with Michael Murphy, 1989

Video of the Week: “East of Eden”

Our video this week comes to us once again via the good people at Movieclips.com. It’s the famous scene from Elia Kazan‘s East of Eden (1955) in which Cal Trask (James Dean) confronts his long-lost mother Kate (Jo Van Fleet, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this, her first film role), the owner of a house of ill repute.

In his Movie Stars Parade article “The Highways of Heaven,” Timothy related the tale of shooting this scene with Dean:

“Then I lifted my fist to hit him again, missed, hit a pipe and broke my knuckles. Some blood began to trickle, but I wanted to continue with the scene. Only Jimmy wouldn’t let me. He didn’t care when his own blood was oozing, but at the sight of my blood he became compassionate.

‘It’s all right, Jimmy,’ I insisted. ‘Let’s go.’

‘No,’ Jimmy was firm. ‘Let’s get the  nurse.’

This guy was a human being. He really cared about my knuckles bleeding. I could drop dead on the set, and most people would say, ‘Lower the crumb right down.’ Not Jimmy. He valued me.”