Quote of the Week

Timothy Carey, the name has a certain aura to it. Some cinephiles know this feeling, those who go out on a limb and watch what little role he has. Carey, a character actor who zigzagged through the latter half of American cinema’s history, from A to Z pictures and everything in between, had a special talent. He could make a thin role into something memorable. He threw his 6’ 4’’ body around and spoke with a voice that sounded more like a cement mixer. He stole scenes, evaporating the memory of those that came before and after it.

Only Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes managed to integrate Carey into their films seamlessly. For both filmmakers, he appeared twice in their work. For Kubrick: The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). For Cassavetes: Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). They were able to rein in Carey, controlling his high-strung acting for maximum effect. In Paths of Glory, in fact, Carey gives a career-performance. An interlude from the psychotics he often played, as Private Ferol, Carey is a smooth man, someone who would fit in with Jack Kerouac and co., not WWI France. By film’s end, he becomes unraveled. Along with Ralph Meeker and Joe Turkel, he’s one of the soldiers court-martialed and executed. “I don’t want to die,” he repeats, sniveling, whimpering, and crying as he faces the firing squad.

For every friend, Carey had three or four enemies, people who couldn’t tolerate his brand of free-wheeling, combusting improvisation. Fact and legend often blur in Hollywood history. In Carey’s case, there seems to be more legend than fact. His bouts with actors and directors are tabloid-worthy and tailor-made to his outsider persona. Billy Wilder and James B. Harris fired him. Elia Kazan dubbed his guttural lines. Richard Widmark and Karl Malden beat him. Marlon Brando stabbed him with a pen. Always cheeky, Carey proclaimed that he was fired more than any other actor in Hollywood.

Paths of Glory

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is from an independently published memoir by and about Robert Austin Brady, acting coach and former member of the American Mime Theater. He was briefly employed as assistant and driver to Stanley Kubrick, just before Kubrick started shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Apparently while driving Kubrick around, Brady got a chance to chat with him quite a bit about his films. While discussing Paths of Glory (1957), this choice interchange occurred. It is a remarkable, and let’s face it, rather disappointing read, for Kubrick throws major shade at Timothy, and also at Karl Malden.

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BOB: Absolutely. I think that was Kirk Douglas‘s best performance, and George Macready, who can also play heavy-handed, was terrific. And Timothy Carey, in several scenes, was riveting–unforgettable. You cast him earlier, in “The Killing“.

SK: Never again. He was wild–almost dangerous to have around. He was almost impossible to direct. He never matched his movements to his lines. He accidentally hit Ralph Meeker so hard in the face that we had to stop shooting for the day. He was brilliant, but impossible. As a matter of fact, my next film was going to be “One Eyed Jacks” with Marlon Brando as star/producer. I brought in Calder Willingham to adapt the script. Calder and I adapted “Paths of Glory“. I worked on the script for two months but then I decided to drop the project. My main reason was that Brando fired Calder, and my enthusiasm faded. The other factor was casting. Marlon had promised Karl Malden and Timothy Carey, the co-starring parts. I knew Karl Malden was not a worthy adversary for Marlon. He lacks charm and empathy. I don’t think he’s a good actor. I wanted Paul Newman for the part, or somebody like that, somebody the audience could feel some sympathy for and I certainly didn’t want to work with Timothy Carey again. So, Brando wound up directing.

One-Eyed Jacks

Video of the Week: “One-Eyed Jacks”

Our video for “Timothy In Color Week” is the full-length feature film directed by (his only effort) and starring Marlon Brando, One-Eyed Jacks (1961). Tim absconds with his scenes as Howard Tetley, town drunk, bully and lech.

Several of Tim’s scenes, such as the one where he fights Karl Malden, were unfortunately cut from the final film. But his famous brawl with Brando remains intact. Enjoy!

 

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

Quote of the Week

Timothy Agoglia Carey lived and died an underground legend.

The heavy-lidded, conspicuously tall actor crafted one of the most disjointed, overlooked and under-appreciated film careers in cinema history.

He was a man who refused to compromise, didn’t check his spelling, and never, ever listened to a goddamn word anybody said to him.

He wrote, produced and directed a play called THE INSECT TRAINER, which revolved around the power and the importance of farting.

He brought John Cassavetes over to his house, put him in a dog attack suit and let three rottweilers jump on him, while yelling words of encouragement from the next room, “It’s not you they hate, it’s the suit!”

Richard Widmark beat him up on the set of 1956’s THE LAST WAGON. Not to be outdone, in 1961 Carey was kicked in the ribs by Karl Malden and stabbed with a pen by Marlon Brando during the making of ONE-EYED JACKS.

He was one of the few actors Stanley Kubrick ever trusted to improvise a scene.

He faked his own kidnapping and ransom note during the filming of PATHS OF GLORY, just to get some press.

He led a life of strange brilliance. Carey’s passion for life blazed a trail of wide-eyed wonder that has been followed by such contemporary icons as Crispin Glover and Andy Kaufman.

Through all of this, and much, much more, he always remained true to the world he most definitely helped create and flourish: the underground.

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

Paths of Glory lobby card

 

Pic of the Day: “One-Eyed Jacks” promotional still

Today we observe the 90th birthday anniversary of the legendary Marlon Brando. Timothy appeared with him twice, in The Wild One (1953) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961). Here is a rarely seen promo still from that latter film that I received from friend of the blog Toby Roan, author of the forthcoming A Million Feet of Film: The Making of One-Eyed Jacks. In a scene not appearing in the final cut of the film, the dead body of ne’er-do-well Howard Tetley is carried away by Rio, the man who shot him (Brando), Chico (Larry Duran) and Sheriff Dad Longworth (Karl Malden).

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

 

“You know, I was always a hound for publicity,” Tim said in the Psychotronic interview. “They were doing the Academy Awards and Brando was up for it. Well, I knew him from The Wild One, I knew he was going to get it (for On the Waterfront), so I was getting dressed up for it and I was going to go up there and get it before he got there, but some guy from Western Costume who was dressing me up talked me out of it.” I think most of us secretly – or perhaps not so secretly – wish he had gone ahead with his dastardly plan. Sending afterlife birthday greetings to you, Mr. Brando!

Quote of the Week

Carey’s true nature, belying his odious on-screen behavior, came out in the easygoing way he talked about the many leads he’s worked with, actors who’ve routinely – and literally – kicked him around. He was given the cold shoulder by Robert Ryan on Alaska Seas (1954), “cursed and stomped on” by Richard Widmark during The Last Wagon (1956), and kicked in the ribs by Karl Malden during the filming of Marlon Brando‘s One-Eyed Jacks (1961) – to name only a few instances! When asked to reflect on these incidents, a sad fondness crept into Carey’s voice as he had nothing but praise for the many actors whose resentfulness instilled in him a real martyrdom rather than bitterness: “I’ve been fired from several shows. I’m not proud of it, but I do hold the all-time record.”

Ara Corbett, “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey-John Cassavetes Partnership”; Filmfax magazine #56 (May/June 1996)

One-Eyed Jacks

Karl Malden literally kicks Timothy’s ass in a scene that didn’t make the final cut of One-Eyed Jacks