I usually don’t post on Saturdays, but as the legendary Sterling Hayden was born 100 years ago today, I couldn’t not post. Timothy appeared in three films with him: Hellgate (1952), Crime Wave (1954) and The Killing (1956), getting a chance to really interact with him only in the latter film. It’s too bad there weren’t more, but what we have is choice. Hayden was a true iconoclast, the very definition of “rugged individualism.” They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Sir, we salute you.
To celebrate the birthday anniversary of the great Ted de Corsia, born in Brooklyn this date in 1903, we take another look at Crime Wave (1954), directed by Andre’ de Toth. This is a publicity still for the film under its original title, The City is Dark.
Also appearing here are (left to right) Phyllis Kirk, Gene Nelson, Jim Hayward, and the familiar-looking fellow in the white t-shirt is Charles Buchinsky. You probably know him better under the name he began using shortly afterwards – Charles Bronson.
[Ted] De Corsia‘s sidekick in Crime Wave is the young Charles Bronson, who not only flexes impressively, but growls a few great henchman lines. Leveling his gun at Ellen, he smiles at her husband: “You want I should clip a curl off the cutie?” [Andre’] DeToth loved the primitive contours of Bronson’s face, and his atavistic grace. He used them smartly in several pictures, including the 3-D House of Wax. The gang also included the amusingly unstable Timothy Carey, who is so brain damaged that midway through sexually intimidating Phyllis Kirk he becomes distracted and forgets what he’s doing. Crime Wave was one of the first films that would prompt viewers to ask of Carey: “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”
Already anticipating the screenings of Crime Wave (1954) and The Killing (1956) next month as Turner Classic Movies celebrates its Star of the Month for May, Sterling Hayden, today’s pic takes another look at the former film. It’s one of the best examples of film noir ever, directed by Andre’ De Toth.
This intensely red-tinted lobby card features Hayden and Mack Chandler rounding up Timothy and Gene Nelson, as Phyllis Kirk looks on. I encourage you not to miss this film if you haven’t seen it. It’s a winner in every respect.
Of course, the main reason to see THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER is to observe Timothy Carey with the brakes removed. He’s mesmerizing in every scene but subtlety is not his specialty. Some critics have accused him of being a total ham and his scene chewing has an excessive, bigger-than-life quality. But just try to tear your eyes away from the screen.
Watch him shake like a bowl of radioactive jello as his Elvis-like alter ego dressed in gold lamé (There’s a little James Brown thrown in as well – “Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Take My Hand!” – and maybe even some Tiny Tim). See him transform before your eyes into a hell and brimstone evangelist or play it sweet and low-key as an insurance salesman who’s just “seen the light.”
Carey has always had his own “style” of acting and when you start to consider all of the parts he’s played, he stands out in every movie, even in films where a director like Stanley Kubrick tightly controls every detail right down to an actor’s performance. Among some of my favorite Carey performances are his scary whorehouse bouncer in East of Eden, the shell-shocked, emotionally damaged soldier facing execution in Paths of Glory, the creepy gangster assigned to watch over hostage Phyllis Kirk in Andre de Toth’s Crime Wave, one of the hell-raising motorcycle gang members in The Wild One and his racetrack marksman in The Killing. Now you can add God Hilliard in THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER to your list of favorite Carey roles.
Today is the 87th birthday anniversary of the late, lovely Phyllis Kirk! In her honor, we present another shot of her and Timothy from Andre’ De Toth‘s Crime Wave (aka The City is Dark, 1954 but filmed in 1952). Ellen Lacey is unsure about being left under the supervision of giggling hop head Johnny Haslett. As well she should be.
Wrote Tim in his Movie Stars Parade article, “I played a heavy again in a picture called Crime Wave, with Sterling Hayden and Phyllis Kirk, and in one scene I was holding Phyllis prisoner in a dingy waterfront room. There was low key lighting and the boom was down low. I affected a twitch like a narcotics addict, I turned on a low, sensual, half-crazy laugh, gritted my teeth and dug my hands into her shoulders – just like the creep I was portraying would have done in real life. But Phyllis wasn’t impressed with my realism. She found me too convincing. She broke and got hysterical. I had to go apologize to her, although I don’t know what I was apologizing for.”
In celebration of the great Andre’ De Toth‘s 102nd birthday anniversary, today’s pic is the second of two key set photos from Crime Wave (aka The City is Dark) (1954) that I found on eBay a while back. Key set photos were shots taken on set and used for continuity purposes. Both photos feature Timothy menacing Phyllis Kirk, not surprisingly.
De Toth was born Sasvári Farkasfalvi Tóthfalusi Tóth Endre Antal Mihály in Hungary (then Austria-Hungary) on this date in 1912. When, during an interview, he was asked about Tim’s acting methods in this film, De Toth replied, “Who was acting?” All of his films are a treat, and most definitely worth watching. Mr. De Toth, The Timothy Carey Experience salutes you!