Video of the Week: “Rumble on the Docks”

This week we’re pleased to bring you another of Timothy’s lesser-seen films in its entirety. It’s the “teenage On the Waterfront,” Rumble on the Docks (1956), directed by Fred F. Sears. Tim has one of his best supporting roles as Frank Mangus, lackadaisical torpedo to waterfront boss Joe Brindo (Michael Granger).

Plus James Darren, Robert Blake, Dan Terranova, and Freddie Bell and His Bellboys! Let’s get ready to rumble!

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

Pic of the Day: “Rumble on the Docks” revisited

Our (late) pic of the day is another from Rumble on the Docks (1956), the teenage On the Waterfront directed by Fred F. Sears. Timothy turns in a great supporting performance as Frank Mangus, the lackadaisical muscle behind racketeer Joe Brindo (Michael Granger).

Rumble on the DocksFrank is incapable of merely sitting on a couch or a chair – he must drape himself across it, over it, or around it. It’s pretty much a running gag throughout the film. Yet another part that could have been routine and forgettable in the hands of a lesser talent, here given the unmistakable Carey treatment.

Videos of the Week: “Revolt in the Big House” and Robert Blake

D’OH! I was so busy yesterday I never got around to posting our regular Wednesday video. My apologies! So, to attempt to make up for my negligence, today you’re getting not one but two videos!

Let’s start off with the one I should have posted last week but it hadn’t quite been put up on YouTube yet. It’s a clip from the newly released on DVD Revolt in the Big House (1958). Timothy is featured prominently, and it includes the great moment when he starts making out with his new machine gun.

Our second video ties in with the first. It’s an interview with Robert Blake, from an appearance on the Tavis Smiley show from December of 2011. Blake talks briefly about the handful of films he made in that very studio in the late 1950s, including Revolt and Rumble on the Docks (1956), and mentions an amusing moment he shared with Timothy at about the 2 minute mark. I can’t seem to get the video to embed, so here’s the URL.

All I can say is, I’m going to get my old Minnie Mouse watch fixed ASAP.

Pic of the Day: “Revolt in the Big House” promotional still

To celebrate the long-awaited official commercial DVD release of Revolt in the Big House (1958), our pic today is another promotional still from that very film. Lou Gannon (Gene Evans) and Bugsy Kyle confer during said revolt.

Revolt in the Big House

The Warner Archive Collection is a great source for several of Timothy’s films on DVD, including Waterhole #3 (1967), Chain of Evidence (1957), The Outfit (1973), Rumble on the Docks (1956), Convicts 4 (1962), and now this one. Way to go, WAC!

Pic of the Day: “Rumble on the Docks” revisited

Our pic of the day takes another look at Fred F. SearsRumble on the Docks (1956), kind of a teenage On the Waterfront with a side of West Side Story thrown in for good measure. Racketeer Joe Brindo (Michael Granger) and his torpedo Frank Mangus are pleased with the outcome of a big court case.

Rumble on the Docks

Granger had appeared with Timothy three years earlier in Henry Hathaway‘s White Witch Doctor (1953), both of them in don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-’em roles. He became another dependable character actor in films and on television in the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1961 he made several TV appearances, then dropped out of sight until 1977, when he portrayed his final role in an episode of Kojak. What he was up to in that sixteen-year interval is a mystery. He died of a heart attack in 1981, at the age of 58.

Pic of the Day: “Rumble on the Docks” revisited

We close the week, and the first month of 2014, with another shot of Frank Mangus, the blasé torpedo of Rumble on the Docks (1956), directed by Fred F. Sears. This pic pretty much encapsulates my feelings after a trying and frustrating week.

Rumble on the Docks

This neat little film has finally seen an official DVD release, so you won’t have to contend with the “Drive In Classics” logo any longer. Wishing you a great weekend and a better week ahead.

Pic of the Day: “Rumble on the Docks” promo still

Today’s pic is an original promotional still from Rumble on the Docks (1956), directed by Fred F. Sears. It still bears the original studio stamp and a typed notation glued to it on the back. The note reads “RACKETEER’S HENCHMAN BEATEN – Tim Carey, trigger man for crooked union boss, is found beaten and brought to latter’s headquarters in a scene from Columbia’s ‘Rumble on the Docks,’ produced by Sam Katzman.”

Rumble on the Docks

Tim is being propped up by James Darren and Robert Blake, the latter his future co-star in Revolt in the Big House (1958) and four Baretta episodes in the ’70s. Darren enjoyed a successful career as a teen heartthrob and singing sensation in the ’50s and ’60s, then found his niche on television in The Time Tunnel and many other series. Trekkies will remember him as the holographic lounge singer Vic Fontaine on several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the late 1990s.

Quote of the Week

I recently heard from a fellow named Richard Luzzi, who shared a wonderful story about meeting Timothy in El Monte in the late 1950’s.

Just a few more details about when I met Tim. He must have just been finishing work on The World’s Greatest Sinner on the El Monte Mall on the corner of Lexington and Valley. I walked up to him and had no real angst because I was a young Arroyo High School student. “Hi,” I said, “my name is Richie and I am a fan!” I asked him what he thought of Dan Terranova whom he had recently worked with in Rumble On The Docks. Danny was a school chum of my older brother Angelo. We all hailed from Jersey City. I was as a kid thrilled that Danny had great success in The Blackboard Jungle; then meeting Tim was almost too much. 

He said Danny was cool. We shook hands and he gave me a weak, fish-like grasp; I was surprised because he was so big and powerful. I was reminded the other day that he probably didn’t want to hurt me as I was barely 5ft 2, a small-framed Italian kid. He cut our little visit short and with a big tight-lipped smile he said “Goodbye Richieeeeeeeeeee!” in that long drawn-out way he’s famous for.  A gentle giant who was kind and gentle to a little kid. Thanks Tim for our moment or two together.

I noticed a still photo for The World’s Greatest Sinner had Tim in front of The Pit Barbecue on Garvey Blvd. in South El Monte. What a great place. My whole family and friends ate there all the time. Great prices and a 5 cent cup of coffee. I’m sure Tim ate there as well. El Monte was a great little town and I know Tim loved it because he could be close to his horses. He must have lived in No. El Monte near the border of Arcadia where the wash or pretty sizable river bed separated the two cities. There were a lot of families living in the area with horses, at the end of La Medera St. off of Peck Rd.

Paths Of Glory was the best anti-war film made till that time. It is my favorite work of his. Rest in peace brother, ’cause you gave it your all while you were here.


The World's Greatest Sinner

Clarence Hilliard and his horse, in happier times

Quote of the Week

Zappa still thought that the best way to get his music played was to write film scores and in June 1961 another opportunity presented itself: The World’s Greatest Sinner, one of the most eccentric (rather than experimental) films ever made. It was an independent movie produced, directed, written and starring the great character actor Timothy Carey – ‘the ugliest man alive’ – veteran of bit parts in everything from The Wild One (1954), where he throws beer in Brando’s face; East of Eden (1955); The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). Brando liked him and used him in One-Eyed Jacks (1961). Frank always enjoyed Carey’s films, though he preferred the weird crazed ones like Rumble On the Docks (1956), a juvenile delinquent movie.

Frank met Timothy Carey at Wallach’s Music City in Hollywood while he was working on The Second Time Around, a western comedy. ‘A fellow came up to me and complemented me on my acting,’ recalled Carey. ‘He said he was a composer and the guy he came with, his next-door neighbour, played the guitar. I said, “What’s your name?” He said, “Frank Zappa.” So I said, “OK, I have something for you. We have no music for The World’s Greatest Sinner. If you can supply the orchestra and a place to tape it, you have the job.” And that’s what he did.’

The World’s Greatest Sinner is the story of a dissatisfied middle-aged insurance clerk named Clarence Hilliard who wakes up one day and decides that he is God: ‘We should be Gods, every one of us here, super human beings!’ He starts his own church, gets a guitar and fake goatee, acquires an Elvis Presley silver lame’ suit and works his audiences into a frenzy with wild, furious, rock ‘n’ roll shows, throwing himself around the stage, flopping about on his back as if he were having an epileptic fit and diving into the audience. He runs for President, has sex with 14-year-old groupies, seduces an 80-year-old woman for her money and drives a man to suicide. This disjointed, totally anarchic film uses flash forwards, upside down shots, breaks into full colour at the end and is narrated by the Devil, represented by a stentorian-voiced boa-constrictor. Just Zappa’s sort of film. Carey began work on it in 1958, shooting most of the scenes in his garage in El Monte. It cost $100,000 in total. […]

…In March [1962] Zappa was interviewed by the Pomona Progress-Bulletin about The World’s Greatest Sinner. Under the headline ONTARIO MAN WRITES SCORE FOR NEW FILM the paper described Tim Carey as ‘Hollywood’s “ugliest, meanest” character actor’ and revealed that Zappa played guitar, drums, piano and vibraphone. Zappa described the film as ‘arty’ and said, intriguingly, ‘The score is unique in that it uses every type of music.’ […]

His performance [on The Steve Allen Show on March 14, 1963] certainly irritated Timothy Carey whose movie had premiered six weeks before. Carey: ‘That’s where our friendship stopped. Steve asked him what films he did. He said he did The World’s Greatest Sinner, the world’s worst film, and all the actors were from skid row. It wasn’t true.’ Carey said that Frank was just saying that to curry favour. He described how on the opening night at the Directors’ Guild, Frank had been in such awe of his surroundings he walked into a window and banged his head. At the premiere at the Vista-Continental Theater in Hollywood on 30 January 1963, Carey, ever the showman, appeared in his silver lame’ preacher suit with GOD stitched on the sleeves and got the evening off to an exciting start by firing a .38 over the heads of the audience.

– Barry Miles, Zappa: A Biography (Grove Press, 2004)

Frank Zappa with Tim at the TWHS premiere