Quote of the Week

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

Bayou

Quote of the Week

The Early Days
It is ironic that a man, whose name is so widely unrecognized, could make such an impression on so many people. You don’t forget Timothy Carey. The infancy of Carey’s career consisted of small roles, often playing “the heavy” or a sideline thug. Yet, Carey’s presence could not be overlooked.

Carey’s film career started small and didn’t really get to grow much more as time went on. His first film role came in 1951, with an uncredited role in Billy Wilder’s noir film The Big Carnival [Marisa’s note: AKA Ace in the Hole. Timothy may have been edited out of the finished film, however.] From there he played another small, uncredited part in the William A. Wellman‘s rustic western Across the Wide Missouri. After working in some forgettable films and playing small, miniscule parts, Carey got his first chance to really shine.

In André De Toth’s gritty noir drama, Crime Wave (1954), Carey’s appearance comes late in the film where he oozes malevolence as Johnny Haslett. He then spends a good deal of time off-camera babysitting the protagonist’s wife. A testament to Carey’s creepiness on screen, the brief glimpse of him as Haslett is enough to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Moving up from the number four thug to the crime boss’s right-hand man, Carey played Lou Terpe in Harold D. Schuster’s Finger Man (1955). Faithful to a fault, Carey makes the most of his small role, seething with pent-up penitentiary anger at the film’s wimpy hero.

Between his work in Crime Wave and Finger Man, Carey had a small part in the Marlon Brando vehicle, The Wild One. Carey was uncredited in the film, but even with the limited screen time and lack of respect he was given, he managed to turn in the most memorable performance in the film. With his spraying of the soda pop into Marlon Brando’s face, Carey carved his imprint into the minds of many, making his miniscule Chino Boy #1 credit much more than expected. And from there, his small but loud presence in many films to come, like East of Eden, Rumble on the Docks, and Revolt in the Big House, created the enigmatically fascinating actor that one can only call Timothy Carey.

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

The Wild One

Video of the Week: “One-Eyed Jacks” trailer

This week’s video offering is another one from the archives. It’s a rather unusual trailer for Marlon Brando‘s sole directorial effort, One-Eyed Jacks (1961). It differs from most trailers in that it mixes stills with film footage, and in its length (almost 5 minutes).

Naturally, a major highlight is Timothy’s fight with Brando. “Get up, you tub of guts.” Enjoy!

Quote of the Week

The three wonderfully distinctive personalities I encountered and will mention in this series were all outspoken, eccentric to be sure, but full of passion for the unusual things in life. They all shared a sharp and wicked sense of humour and a youthful exuberance that probably presented itself to most who crossed their paths. I’m fairly certain of this because I had friends who encountered them as well. I feel extremely fortunate to have met all three. Sadly they have all passed on.

Part 2:

Another strange but colorful personality belonged to Timothy Carey, a character actor extraordinaire who I first met and spoke with just outside a Century City movie complex during a Los Angeles Film Exposition. He was protesting alone, holding a sign about the Expo’s organizers not showing his film The World’s Greatest Sinner. He paced back and forth while shouting phrases like “They show other people’s films but they won’t show my film” and “I worked with Brando and Kubrick but they won’t show my film.” He almost sounded like the whiny character he played in Paths of Glory. When I spoke with him while he protested, he just reiterated the above. When I spoke with one of the Expo’s organizers, he stated simply “It’s a really bad film.” (I’ve never seen it).

I ran into him again outside of a privately owned L.A. health food store. The store’s Korean owners rather cynically referred to this strange guy as tending to their outside herb garden. At the time I was with a friend who was clinically diagnosed as psychotic and he seemed to easily develop a rapport with Mr. Carey, especially when he mentioned that Carey should consider selling the herbs growing in the small garden bed. So imagine my surprise when I got home and heard on my answering machine Timothy Carey’s message that “The herbs are in the offing” amidst a reference to watching with some friends one of his memorable scenes in Paths of Glory where he suddenly kills a cockroach.

Another close attorney friend of mine and movie buff met Carey and told me of his plans to appear in a play Carey wrote about a guy who farts someone to death. It was never produced to my knowledge and instead of appearing in his play my attorney friend became pallbearer at his funeral. Timothy Carey died at only 65 years of age in 1994. He improvised his way into acting immortality. His cinematic legacy has become truly inspirational. He possessed a real life persona that was above all else, honest, caring and genuine and will be sorely missed.

A.G. 

Timothy Carey (March 11, 1929 –  May 11, 1994) R.I.P.

Arthur Grant, “Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #5: The Eccentrics Part 2”; The Cinema Cafe, January 22, 2014

Convicts 4

Quote of the Week

Timothy Carey had one of the most unusual careers of all Hollywood character actors, obtaining full cult status for his portrayals of the doomed, the psychotic and the plain crazy. Carey’s career was an “Only in America” type of story, and he retains his status as a Great American Original a decade after his death.

As a 22-year-old acting school graduate, he made his film debut in 1951 as a corpse in a Clark Gable western [Across the Wide Missouri (1951)], but it was his brief, uncredited part as Chino, a member of Lee Marvin‘s motorcycle gang The Beetles [actually, Marvin played Chino, not Tim] in The Wild One (1953) that made an impression and was a harbinger of the unsavory things to come. Prone to improvising, it was the fearless Carey who came up with the idea of squirting beer in Marlon Brando‘s face, even though the Great Method Actor himself had expressed reservations about what Carey was up to. He also registered that year [1955, actually] as the bordello bouncer who threatens James Dean in East of Eden (1955), making his face, if not his name (he was uncredited in both parts), known to the mass audience.

Carey followed this up with superb acting jobs in two Stanley Kubrick films, The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). In the former he played the sociopath Nikki Arane [last name is actually Arano], who is contracted to shoot a race horse, which he does with great glee. In Paths of Glory Carey had an atypically sympathetic role as French soldier Pvt. Ferol, unjustly condemned to be shot to atone for the stupidities of his generals during World War I. However, it was in Bayou (1957) that Carey reached his apotheosis as an actor: as the psychotic Cajun Ulysses, he crafted an indelible performance that went beyond the acceptable limits of cinema scenery-chewing. He became Ulysses, on-screen, the mad Cajun who epitomized evil, his insanity perfectly encapsulated in the psychotic jig Carey danced to more fully limn his character’s madness. This classic exploitation film was re-cut and re-released as Poor White Trash (1961), and became a grindhouse Gone with the Wind (1939), playing to crowds until the 1970s (and becoming, retrospectively, one of the top-grossing films of 1957).

Jon C. Hopwood, Timothy Carey on IMDb

The Killing

Quote of the Week

Alex Cox, director of Repo Man (1984) and Sid and Nancy (1986), talks about almost hiring Timothy for his debut student film Edge City (aka Sleep is for Sissies) (1980). Part 2 of his tale next week!

‘If you’re looking for a really out-there actor,’ Michael Miner said one day, ‘there’s always Timothy Carey.’ Timothy Carey was a powerful actor with an outstanding history: he’d worked for Kubrick in The Killing and Paths of Glory, Brando in One-Eyed Jacks, and Cassavetes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

Michael had a number for him, and I called it. It was an agricultural feed store, out in the desert somewhere. They had another number, where a woman answered, and I had a long conversation with a madman, to whom I promptly mailed a copy of the script. Timothy Carey liked it, liked the character of Beauregard, and so we met. Unlike some actors, Carey was more imposing in person than on film. He looked about six foot six, and had a powerful voice, black-and-white hair, and staring eyes. He talked constantly, a little bit about the script, but mostly about farting, about the importance of not suppressing the breaking of wind, about how Western society was doomed, due to its suppression of the fart. On and on like this he went, in the same way as Harry Dean [Stanton] was apt to get into a longish diatribe about the Jews, not that Harry was anti-Semitic – he thought the Christian culture every bit as bad and stupid as the Jewish one – but he did tend, given a trapped interlocutor, to go on about the Jews. Timothy’s obsession, expressed in public, in a much louder voice, was the beauty and importance of the fart.

For all that Timothy Carey seemed nuts, he was a very fine actor, putting on a performance for me and everyone else in Dairy Queen. He was the most egomaniacal thespian I’d yet met, and thus, I suspect, one of the most insecure and damaged. He was also a director, having authored and starred in a feature of his own, The World’s Greatest Sinner.

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

Edge City (1980) in four parts on YouTube

 

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

Born in Brooklyn, in 1929, Carey went to acting school and was a full-on believer of always being “in the moment” – a tendency that led to sudden, sometimes enraging improvisation (that beer he throws in Marlon Brando‘s face in “The Wild One” was not planned). But Kubrick saw something, and rescued Carey from years of bit parts to cast him first as the gunman in “The Killing,” and then as one of the railroaded soldiers in “Paths of Glory.”

It was a good match. Kubrick understood the importance of actors but didn’t have the slightest understanding of how they did what they did, or even how to guide them. It was one of the director’s few artistic failings, and it could lead to hundreds of frustrating takes or over-the-top performances. But some actors – like Malcolm McDowell, like Peter Sellers – saw this as a freedom.

So did Carey. His most memorable scene in “Paths of Glory,” in fact – with the sentenced soldier moaning “I don’t want to die” – was made up on the spot.

There’s something of a John Turturro in the young Carey, and those two movies with Kubrick suggested the kind of long collaboration that Turturro would later have with Spike Lee, or the Coen Brothers. And, in fact, Carey later had a part in “One-Eyed Jacks,” a film Kubrick had been signed to direct, before star Marlon Brando took over. But Kubrick went on to other projects, and he and Carey never worked again.

Stephen Whitty, “The World’s Wildest Actor”; The New Jersey Star-Ledger (October 21, 2008)

One-Eyed Jacks

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