Quote of the Week

The Insect Trainer’s main character, Guasti Q. Guasti, is convicted of murder after farting so powerfully that a woman falls from her chair, hits the floor and dies. The play is characteristic theatre of the absurd, full of non-sequiturs and jarring stage action. Carey was hard at work rehearsing the play before his passing and created a philosophical tract about the virtues of flatulence. Carey’s son Romeo is planning a revival of The Insect Trainer, due to premiere in Los Angeles this spring. Romeo hopes to take the production on the road.

For all of Timothy Carey’s antics, he remained a devoted family man with a wife (only one) and six kids and endless dogs, cats, chickens, and horses. He lived out his life in the quiet suburb of El Monte, preferring the company of his animals to the unearthly world of Hollywood society. As he admits, he “made lots of fast enemies” during his career, but readily forgave his antagonists, as they were often just not ready to appreciate his uniqueness.

James B. Harris, the crusty producer/director who had many a run-in with Carey over the years acknowledges, “I know he’s so bizarre and I don’t think it’s gratuitous. I think there is enough humanity in this man. I think he could make a scene better than anyone else.” This humanity described by Harris encompassed a sympathy for the underdog: Carey was a supporter of Palestinian and Native American rights. The romantic equation, the ability to triumph despite the odds, played a great part in his art and his outlook.

– Alex de Laszlo, “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Timothy Carey”, Uno Mas magazine, 1996

Insect Trainer flyer

Video of the Week: Los Angeles, The City in Cinema: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1978)

Our video this week is a thoughtful analysis by essayist Colin Marshall of John CassavetesThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1978 director’s cut) as it relates to the city of Los Angeles itself. Timothy is briefly glimpsed in the restaurant scene in which Mort (Seymour Cassel) delivers the bad news.

As Marshall writes, “The action of John Cassavetes’ grotesque 1970s Los Angeles gangster movie takes place not in the margins of the city, but in a city made up of nothing but margins: mediocre eateries, empty gas stations, parking garages, and the strip club owned by its businessman-turned-hitman protagonist. Tasked with finding and killing the titular ‘Chinese bookie’ in this vast, taste-orthogonal void, he must set and stick for dear life to his own set of standards, no matter how garish or delusional they appear.”

Quote of the Week

Part 2 of director Alex Cox‘s tale of his encounter with Timothy during the filming of his student film Edge City (aka Sleep is for Sissies) (1980):

Clearly, Timothy was right for the part of the mysterious, mythological madman, the wisdom-dispensing grail-o-matic at the end of Roy’s desert quest. I offered him the part, making it clear that there wasn’t any money, this being a student film. He told me this was fine. What was important, he said, was somewhere he could be quiet and prepare, on set, before we filmed. This was a reasonable (if inconvenient) request; in my head I saw myself pitching a tent, in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Timothy also thought that some of his observations, particularly regarding farts, might fit the character of Beauregard. I couldn’t have agreed more. How much film would it use up? Not that much. I could always cut the fart stuff out – though, if Timothy said it with the passion he evidently felt, it would probably be better than the lines I’d scripted.

I spoke to him a couple of times at his home in El Monte. The LA County Fair was held in nearby Pomona, and Timothy urged me to attend it, in particular so I could marvel at its enormous pigs. I said I’d try, and returned to issues of the shoot: costume, location, date, etc.

My plan was to shoot our showdown on one of the trails above Will Rogers Park. This was then an unspoiled and wild part of LA, whose canyons and roadless areas had so far defeated the developers. If you got deep enough into it, and looked the right way, all you could see was desert hills and the ocean. I was giving Timothy the directions to Will Rogers when he hit me up for cash. And he didn’t mean gas money, he meant a fee.

I’d already explained I had no money, that the film was being made via a ‘UCLA waiver’ by which Screen Actors Guild members could work for no money without breaking the guild’s rules. I reminded Timothy of the waiver, but he was now unwavering. ‘You must be able to come up with something,’ he told me, ‘even if it’s as little as 10,000 bucks.’

$10,000 was more than the entire budget of the film. I told him I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pay for anything, beyond gas, food, film, and his fucking tent.

I saw him only once thereafter, a couple of years down the line. I was going to a screening at the Hitchcock Theater on the Universal lot. And there was Timothy, sitting in the guard’s booth with the guard, singing and playing the guitar. He fixed me with an intense gaze, and serenaded me as I passed.

– Alex Cox, X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker (I.B. Tauris, 2008)

Edge City (1980) in four parts on YouTube

 

 

Video of the Week: “The Bloody Brains – Alligator”

Oh boy, here’s another one that you’d better catch before it disappears. The Bloody Brains are a fierce garage/punk band out of Los Angeles. The audio here is the band performing the classic The Us Four tune “The Alligator.” The video is – well, I don’t think I have to tell you.

The music matches the action quite well! I always maintained that Timothy invented the mosh pit and crowd-surfing with Sinner. It just might be true. Enjoy!

Pic of the Day: “Ambush” revisited

Happy New Year, everybody! Let’s kick off 2015 by taking another look at the Kung Fu episode “Ambush,” first airing on April 4, 1975. Grumpy outlaw Bix Courtney is after a stash of silver in the possession of saloon owner Jennie Malone (Rhonda Fleming).

Ambush - 1975

One of the most beautiful and talented stars ever to grace film and television screens, Ms. Fleming, a Los Angeles native, was seemingly born to be in pictures. The story goes that the cameraman on one of her films decided to play a little joke and deliberately photograph her badly, just to see if it could be done. Apparently, it couldn’t. No matter how much he screwed it up, the red-headed star still came out looking amazing. She is also quite a good singer.

Quote of the Week

CHAIN OF EVIDENCE (1956). Want to know if you should watch this one? Two words: Timothy Carey. Really, what more inducement do you need? Mind you, Carey has a minor role here, playing a thug who beats affable parolee Jimmy Lydon (erstwhile star of Paramount’s Henry Aldrich films) so badly that Lydon develops amnesia and goes off to work as an auto mechanic in Saugus. Yeah, Saugus … These detective movies have an almost fetishistic devotion to geography, as if the writers were working with open copies of The Thomas Guide. Whereas a lot of Hollywood crime movies of this vintage were shot in LA but rarely got site specific, these films name-drop streets, intersections, and such outlying municipalities as Saugus (long since incorporated into Santa Clarita), Ventura, and Imperial Valley, which adds to the verisimilitude. CHAIN OF EVIDENCE (these titles are fairly interchangeable and have little relevance to the actual plots) is an odd mash-up of Arthur Lubin’s IMPACT (1949) and Tay Garnett’s THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946), as the amnesiac is hired as a handyman by a rich guy (THE WILD ONE‘s Hugh Sanders) and winds up the fall guy in a murder plot hatched by the millionaire’s avaricious wife (Tina Carver, later the heroine of FROM HELL IT CAME) and her lover (Ross Elliott). Directed by Paul Landres (who went from this to the Allied Artists shockers THE VAMPIRE and THE RETURN OF DRACULA), CHAIN OF EVIDENCE is just peppy enough and well cast (Dabbs Greer turns up as a sympathetic doctor) to keep the middling plot moving to another sitcom-like finish. Poor John Close is knocked down the cast roster even further this time out, playing a state trooper with about twenty seconds of screen time. Timothy Carey gets three scenes and stamps through each one of them like his feet are on fire.

Richard Harland Smith, “The Bill: Warner Archives’ Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries reviewed!”; Movie Morlocks (June 13, 2014)

Chain of Evidence

Pic of the Day: “Ransom for a Dead Man” revisited

Columbus Day? Forget that. Here at the TCE it’s Columbo Day. Presenting our first glimpse of Bert, confidant of Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) and the friendly chili slinger of Barney’s Beanery in the inaugural Columbo episode, “Ransom for a Dead Man”. The date was March 1, 1971. Bert got his own diner later on in the episode “Dead Weight” (10.27.71).

Ransom for a Dead Man

Barney’s Beanery really exists. It’s been a Los Angeles landmark for nearly one hundred years, favored by movie stars, rock gods and the average Joe alike. Apparently they still serve a mean bowl of chili. Heck, you can even order online now. Will wonders never cease.