Quote of the Week

The first day I visited Universal Pictures in 1978, I met a legendary actor at the studio commissary. Timothy Carey. I went up to talk with him.

He didn’t look as he did in the movies, but I sure recognized him. Whatever quality he had on the screen floated around him like a wraith. You know what I mean.

He was the crazed horse sniper in The Killing, delivering lines through his teeth like an insane Kirk Douglas parody, working out the details of his grisly shooting job, all the while lovingly scratching a puppy.

He was the condemned French soldier in Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory, set unfairly to die before the firing squad. His cellmate says a roach in their cell will outlive them, and Carey crushes the insect, commenting “Now you’ve got the edge on him.”

Later, as they march helplessly to the firing squad, Carey improvises his own forlorn dialogue, to tremendously moving effect. He was one of only a few actors Kubrick would allow to do that.

I talked to Tim Carey quite a while. He was very friendly and didn’t mind. He really made my day. We talked about movie acting and Stanley Kubrick and Marlon Brando and Frank Zappa and Jack Nicholson and the indie feature movies Tim made with his own money.

Then we had to go. It was time for my appointment. He was at Universal to do some other business.

He raised and trained attack dogs now, and gave me his business card for his dog-training company “K-9 Attack Dogs.” It was in my wallet for a long time, and then on my bulletin board, (next to Stanley Kubrick’s phone number). I called Mr. Carey a couple of times; he was always nice, even though I wasn’t in the dog market.

I’m so glad I met him; he was an original. What a character in real life, and when the cameras started rolling, always completely perfect for the screen. Every movie he was in, he stole the frame, no matter who else was in it. Kirk Douglas, Marlon Brando, anybody. What a career.

And talk about chutzpah – he once climbed over the Fox studio wall – in a suit of armor – to get an audition for Prince Valiant. Can’t beat that. Lots of people have been influenced by him. I know I have.

Quentin Tarantino‘s script for Reservoir Dogs is dedicated to a list of influences. Timothy Carey heads that list.

Timothy Carey, I salute you.

Paths of Glory

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

Carey is a Brooklyn boy who never went far in high school but has acted in 16 films and six TV shows. He says: “What I really want to do is write. I’ve got a script right here, which I call L.A., that I’d like you to read.”

Carey isn’t about to quote Shakespeare but he’s living proof that “All the World’s a Stage…” He’ll say: “I joined the U.S. Marines at 15, was at Parris Island and finished boot training when they learned my age. Then I was out.”

That brief hitch with the Leathernecks was enough to entitle the unusually tall (6 feet 5 inches) Carey to go to school on the GI Bill. He elected drama school. He says: “When I got to Hollywood, I heard Henry Hathaway was casting Prince Valiant. I rented a Viking costume for $15, climbed a studio fence, confronted him with drawn sword. I didn’t get the part.”

Carey’s early penchant for such monkeyshines had him in the doghouse with half of Hollywood—but he’s acting and eating while many a more retiring youngster is waiting for a call, he says.

George Murray, “Loop Movies,” Chicago Daily News, January 15, 1958

Tim shooting AL in LA, 1956

Timothy during the unfinished A.L. shoot, 1956

Quote of the Week

After that [The Wild One], I tried to get into PRINCE VALIANT (54, Robert Wagner starred). So I went to Western Costume to dress up like Sir Black [sic; the character’s name is actually Brack. The part eventually went to James Mason], the heavy in it.They fitted me in this outfit, all sashed pants and that had a medieval glove with a weapon from that era. And I thought, how am I gonna get in there, so I went to climb the fence at 20th Century Fox, but I couldn’t make it because of the clothes I had on. It was right near a golf course and a golfer helped me over with a ladder. I told him I was an actor on the set who got lost. I tried to find the director, Henry Hathaway, but he wasn’t in his office so I went to the commissary where he was having lunch and said, “Here I am, Sir Black! My men number many. I’m here for the part. Do I get it?” I took out my knife. He said, “Put the knife away, you got the part.” Then I was escorted off the lot. I never got the part, but I enjoyed it. It was fun.

– Psychotronic Video magazine #6, Summer 1990; interview by Michael Murphy and Johnny Legend, research by Michael J. Weldon

The Wild One poster

Pic of the Day: “White Witch Doctor” revisited

Today being the birthday anniversary of the legendary Robert Mitchum, I thought it apropos that we revisit Timothy’s barely-there appearance in Henry Hathaway‘s White Witch Doctor (1953). He’s the henchman of bad guy Walter Slezak, here conferring with Mitchum in the jungles of deepest darkest Africa.

White Witch Doctor

Tim was reportedly fired from this film, with the notoriously irascible Hathaway seething, “He can keep his wardrobe, I don’t care – just get him the hell off my set!” This didn’t stop Tim from pestering Hathaway a year later for a part he didn’t get in Prince Valiant (1954).

Quote of the Week

This is from the extras (Film Noir Web, disc 2) on the Reservoir Dogs (1992) tenth anniversary special edition DVD 2-disc set. The Kazan and Brando stories are apocryphal; Timothy always denied they took place. Also, Tim passed away not on his own birthday (March 11), but on the birthday of one of his heroes, Salvador Dali.

TIMOTHY (William) CAREY (1929-1994)

A lanky, saturnine character actor most famous for his work with Stanley Kubrick in PATHS OF GLORY… and most infamous for being the only man director Elia Kazan ever physically attacked on-set. Marlon Brando stabbed Carey with a pen on the set of ONE-EYED JACKS. John Cassavetes, who cast Carey in THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, declared that the actor had “the brilliance of Eisenstein” – after Carey put Cassavetes in a padded suit and turned an attack dog loose on him, during the actor/director’s first visit to his home.

Carey’s six-foot-five stature and laconic demeanor served him well in a number of tough-guy and character bits, and he later become a television regular on such shows as MANNIX, BARETTA, ELLERY QUEEN and CHiPS. He was apprehended scaling the fence at 20th Century-Fox in full armor, just to audition for PRINCE VALIANT, and later faked his own kidnapping while in Germany, during the shooting of PATHS OF GLORY.

His magnum opus was THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1962) – made nearly single-handedly over three years and released in 1962. Carey wrote the story of an insurance salesman who goes into politics and develops a God complex, then directed and starred. It featured a score by iconoclastic genius Frank Zappa. A second feature, TWEET’S LADIES OF PASADENA, remained in production from 1972 onward (Carey turned down a role in THE GODFATHER to work on it), but was never completed.

Carey also appeared in Kubrick’s THE KILLING, EAST OF EDEN, CRIME WAVE, and THE OUTFIT.

He died of a stroke on his own birthday, May 11, 1994.

Cassavetes directing Tim in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Quote of the Week

In New Haven, they put me on the stage to help whip up some interest in Bayou. They hollered when I did the dance. It out-Elvises Elvis… What I really want to do is write. I’ve got a script right here, which I call L.A., that I’d like you to read… I joined the U.S. Marines at 15, was at Parris Island and finished boot training when they learned my age. Then I was out… When I got to Hollywood, I heard Henry Hathaway was casting Prince Valiant. I rented a Viking costume for $15, climbed a studio fence, confronted him with drawn sword. I didn’t get the part.

– Interview with George Murray, Chicago Daily News, “Loop Movies,” January 15, 1958

Bayou lobby card