Quote of the Week

The Brooklyn-born Carey was physically imposing—a strapping 6’4”—making him ideal for roles as brutish heavies, and he resembled a love child of Nicolas Cage and John Turturro. His penchant for improvisation—bizarre dancing, unscripted outbursts, mumbled nonsense—often got him into trouble with directors and other actors, but made lifelong fans of Jack Nicholson (who wrote Head and likely borrowed elements of Carey’s persona for his performance in The Shining [1980]); [John] Cassavetes (who claimed Carey had the “brilliance of Eisenstein”); and Quentin Tarantino, who considered Carey for the role of crime boss Joe Cabot in Reservoir Dogs (1992).

For mondo video devotees, Carey sealed his immortality with the self-written/produced/directed oddity The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962), which can be characterized as [Elia] Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd (1957) as directed by Ed Wood Jr. The film, which has some of the same proto–John Waters tackiness of The Honeymoon Killers (1970), tells the tale of a bored insurance salesman who becomes an early Elvis-style rockabilly sensation. Noting the frenzy he inspires in his audiences, he begins calling himself “God,” founds a religious cult, and runs for President. Carey and his singularly untalented “band” played their own detuned rock ‘n’ roll in the concert scenes, but the film was scored by a young, pre–Mothers of Invention Frank Zappa. Narrated by the devil and featuring the real God at the climax, Sinner was admired by Elvis himself (who asked Carey for a print) and remains one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll films.

Andrew Hultkrans, “Carey On”; Art Forum, October 12, 2010

The World's Greatest Sinner

Quote of the Week

That long face, those droopy eyes – Timothy Carey is unmistakable, unpredictable, and electrifying with those lizard features that became both a blessing and a curse. […]

A true maverick known for improvising and getting fired, he’s worked with Roger Corman, Coppola, and Cassavetes, including a memorable turn as a mafia heavy in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (we know just from the look in Carey’s eyes that Ben Gazzara is in deep, deep shit).

Carey is an actor to get excited about; like Bruce Dern, there’s a manic energy inside him, a screw loose combined with a fearless realism. He often didn’t seem like an actor at all, more like a wonderfully intuitive amateur dragged out of a skid row bar and slid in front of the camera.

Nic Cage wishes he was Timothy Carey, but Carey didn’t have things easy…

“I can’t even take a stroll through a park. As soon as women see my face they start gathering up their children and running for home.” – Timothy Carey

Rob Munday, “A Face in the Crowd: Timothy Carey”; Video City London (12.13.13)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Quote of the Week

Nicolas Cage ate a roach to stay in character. Carey only smashed a roach, also in Paths of Glory, but his most brilliant performance may have come off-screen. On May 8, 1957, the New York Times reported that the 6′ 4″ actor was found handcuffed and gagged on a desolate road outside Munich. Police said the actor had been picked up hitchhiking and was robbed by two English-speaking men. Now, if you know what Carey looks like, you might well ask what kind of idiot would jump him?

None is what kind. Carey staged his own kidnapping. At a screening of Carey’s work as a director, his son Romeo explained that his father was frustrated with the publicity that Kirk Douglas and his other Paths of Glory co-stars were getting, so he rolled his own.

Pat Padua, “Criminally Underrated: Timothy Carey”; Spectrum Culture, November 13, 2013

Paths of Glory

Quote of the Week

This one is full of some oft-repeated rumors and half-truths, but is still worth a look.

Imagine an actor with the wild, manic stare of a skid-row John Turturro, the gangly rebel stance of Jerry Lee Lewis and the acting presence of a secure-ward Nicolas Cage. Even then you’re still not close to the twisted screen presence of the great Tim Carey.[…]

Right from the start, Carey’s unique approach to acting – frowning and mumbling like a dope addict plotting to overthrow the world – got him into trouble. His key scene in The Wild One (1954) was his unscripted decision to shake up a can of beer and squirt it in Brando‘s face. His performance in East of Eden so incensed Elia Kazan that the director physically attacked Carey on set and then re-dubbed all of Tim’s surreal mutterings. However, Brando eventually patched it up with Carey and cast him as the oddball Howard Tetley in the portly star’s directorial debut, One-Eyed Jacks (1961). By the end of filming, Brando was so impressed by Carey’s unique performance that he ended up stabbing him with a fountain pen.

– Andrew Male, “Timothy Carey,” Bizarre magazine #27 (January 2000)

Brando and Tim on the One-Eyed Jacks set