Quote of the Week

Reservoir Dogs was dedicated in part to Lionel White, the hardboiled pulp novelist who wrote the source material for The Killing, among other film noir. Another member of this film’s production also linked to Reservoir Dogs is the actor Timothy Carey who played the sniper in The Killing. At 6’4” Timothy Carey was made to lurk and menace in the background but he was too kinetic to stay there. He was passed over for several big film roles (including Reservoir Dogs) because he had a reputation for being unpredictable and physically intimidating. Tarantino gave the role to Timothy Carey’s friend Lawrence Tierney, another brutish character actor.

Actors, particularly grizzled veterans of B-movies, have a special sway over Tarantino. As a rabid movie buff, his imagination is excited by the gruff, violent men who almost seem subhuman. Cretinous demeanors suggesting amorality are the stuff of Tarantino’s charm over an audience.

The Killing promo still

 

 

Quote of the Week

Modern hipsters didn’t invent the cult actor. Oh, we might all feel really cool raving about icons like Christopher Walken or newcomers like Michael Shannon. There’s still a long history of weirdo artists infiltrating our movie theaters and living rooms. Just consider the epic strangeness of Timothy Carey. He maintained a perfectly normal career as a character actor right through the 1980s. In fact, Carey would’ve managed one more great role if he’d passed Quentin Tarantino’s audition to play the crime boss in 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino cast veteran oddball actor Lawrence Tierney instead. The director dedicated Reservoir Dogs to a list of idols that included Carey, though. That was nice–especially since Carey would pass away in 1994.

But why would Tarantino dedicate his first feature to a guy who’d shown up in mainstream TV shows like Starsky & Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, and CHiPs? That’s because Carey was far more than a character actor. He was a beatnik visionary and a true wild man. The young actor first made a name for himself by stealing a scene from Marlon Brando in the pioneering biker epic The Wild One. Carey didn’t even get billing, but the hulking actor with the basso voice was soon being used as a heavy by all kinds of directors. He gave one of his most compelling performances as a crazed Cajun in 1957’s Bayou, where he contributed to a sleazy atmosphere that kept the movie playing the drive-in circuit well into the ’70s.

Stanley Kubrick cast Carey in memorable roles for both The Killing and Paths of Glory, and a lot of other directors–including John Cassavetes–loved Carey’s knack for crazed improvisation. That was the kind of Hollywood connection that got Carey playing parts in three episodes of Columbo. Other directors, however, couldn’t tolerate Carey’s maniacal Method acting.

Carey did a lot to sabotage his own career, too. He turned down roles in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II–and walked off the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. That’s three less classics in Carey’s weird filmography, but he found time to appear in Chesty Anderson, U.S. Navy and the Joe Don Baker epic Speedtrap. To be fair, Chesty Anderson gave Carey the freedom to let loose with one of his more amazing performances.

Carey also wrote and directed himself to an amazing role in 1962’s The World’s Greatest Sinner–which was pretty much forgotten for most of Carey’s career. Originally, the film’s legend was kept alive by some musical contributions from Frank Zappa. Then Sinner began to build a bigger reputation as Carey’s own careening genius built his own cult. It’s an amazing film, and was recently restored and is now available to the masses. There’s no other movie like it.

Speedtrap

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)

Video of the Week: Quentin Tarantino Discusses Timothy (and others!)

This week’s video is a little different. Director and film buff extraordinaire Quentin Tarantino talks about the folks who inspired him and to whom he dedicated the Reservoir Dogs (1992) script. At the top of that list is Timothy. He talks about Tim coming in to read for the part of Joe Cabot, which eventually went to Lawrence Tierney. QT also does a passable impersonation of Tim.

Love him or hate him, I for one am grateful to Tarantino for considering Tim for the role and for being willing to give him a chance.

Happy birthday, Scott Brady!

In celebration of the birthday anniversary of the late great Scott Brady, born this date in 1924, today’s pic is a publicity still from Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952), the only film he and Timothy made together. Tim, unbilled as hillbilly Crockett Pace, is attempting to get rid of city fellas Numbers Foster (Brady) and Poorly Sammis (Wally Vernon), intent on spiriting away his intended, Emily Ann Stackerlee (Mitzi Gaynor).

Bloodhounds of Broadway

Brady, born Gerald Tierney in Brooklyn, was one-third of the cinematic Tierney brothers, the others being Lawrence (1919-2002) and Edward (1928-1983). He enjoyed a long career as a good-looking tough guy in films and on television. He passed away in 1985 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. There aren’t too many like him left, unfortunately for us. Happy afterlife birthday, Scott!

Quote of the Week

On this date in 1958, Marlon Brando began filming his sole directorial effort, One-Eyed Jacks (1961). I posted this last year, but it bears repeating. It’s the chapter on Timothy from the book Brando Rides Alone (2004) by Barry Gifford.

3. Timothy Carey

Now here’s a character, a real character let alone a character actor. I’ll never, ever forget Timothy Carey as the rifleman who shoots and kills the racehorse in Kubrick’s The Killing, or as the mob thug in CassavetesThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and certainly not as the drunken lout in One-Eyed Jacks. With a lock of lank black hair always falling over one eye, Carey careened around menacingly in whatever context he appeared. His voice was deep but sounded as if he were always gargling, words bubbling up, burping at his listeners. Carey was big and darkly depraved looking – out of control scary, which often made him seem worse than Lawrence Tierney’s troubled personae. If little kids saw him lurching along the sidewalk headed their way, they’d abandon their toys and run. I saw him on a latenight TV talk show, wearing a too-small Hawaiian shirt, detailing for the horrified host his life’s work: the study of flatulence. He was deranged, not dangerous, I guessed. Tom Luddy, who worked for Francis Coppola, once gave me, for a reason I no longer remember, Timothy Carey’s address and telephone number, which I still have in my directory – he lived in El Monte, California – but I never got in touch with him other than telepathically, and a few years ago he died. In an essay I wrote about an absurd little 1955 movie called Finger Man, I described Carey as being unequaled at The Unbridled Snarl. He couldn’t control his hands or his hair. He justified the French intellectual’s image of the typical American male. And just what do I know about how French intellectuals think? you may well ask. And while you’re at it, exactly what – or who – is a typical American male?

Brando and Tim on the One-Eyed Jacks set

Pic of the Day: “Bloodhounds of Broadway” revisited

Today’s pic is a rather roundabout way of celebrating the birthday anniversary of Timothy’s good friend, the fabulous (and notorious) Lawrence Tierney. Unfortunately, they never made any films together. However, Tim did appear in Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952), where, as we can see here, he has an unfortunate encounter with the fist of Scott Brady, Tierney’s brother. How’s that for several degrees of separation?

[Quentin] Tarantino brought me in to read [for Reservoir Dogs],” Timothy told Grover Lewis in 1992. “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.”