Quote of the Week

In honor of the imminent release of Steve De Jarnatt’s gem of a short film Tarzana (1978) on video (yes, finally! Watch this space!), here is the director recalling his experience of working with Timothy on that film to Paul Rowlands of the Money Into Light film blog.

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How was working with the legendary Timothy Carey?
What can you say about Timothy Carey? There was only one. A brilliant, extremely complicated and odd performer and human being. Some say Tim, who was in Paths of Glory (1957) and The Killing (1956), was the reason Stanley Kubrick moved to England, and I sort of know why. Tim would call me a couple times a week after the film was shot and talk (or perform) for an hour – it could be a freaky sort of thing – and poor Stanley probably couldn’t take it. This is how Tim would roll with someone he trusted. Now I just regret I didn’t record all those rambling Dali-esque monologues of his. When I got my first professional gig in the 80s, directing the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Man from the South” with John Huston and Kim Novak, Tim called up Universal and said he was my manager and was supposed to get 50% of everything I made. (In truth, my entire salary went to joining the DGA on that one). I sort of drifted off from contact with him, but when I was casting for my first feature, Cherry 2000, Tim began to hound me for the part of Six Finger Jake. I did go to bat for him, but the studio and producer nixed it. I was very fortunate to get Ben Johnson, but Tim never forgave me. I had betrayed him. Ah well.
What was the shoot like?
We planned on shooting ten days and after three days, Tim Carey had used up all the film. Well, that’s not true, I did. I sat there agape and watched him riff in these crazy improvs that had nothing to do with the movie. One of the improvs is its own little cult film, Cinema Justice (1977). We had to shut down production and look for more money. 
Steve De Jarnatt, interview with Paul Rowlands, Money Into Light (accessed 10.29.17)
tarzana
Michael C. Gwynne and Tim, Tarzana (1978)

Quote of the Week

Although some directors consider Carey “hard to work with” his talents have been used in devious ways many times. He’ll do an incredible screen test, they tell him “thanks but no thanks” and have another actor study his performance and copy it for the actual film! 

Timothy’s son, Romeo Carey, directed him in a 1988 short called THE DEVIL’S GAS. In ’89, Timothy, (along with Johnny Legend), was a guest on the L.A. public access program, Little Art’s Poker Party. He acted out scenes from some of his films, sang “Jambalaya,” talked about Dali and making wind and said, “The combustible engine has got to go. It’s like glorifying arsenic.” 

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

The Devil's Gas

Quote of the Week

Since then, Le Petomane has become the stuff of legend. His story became a comic strip in a 1975 issue of Apple Pie magazine and the better part of a 1976 comic book called The Compleat Fart, both of which featured him farting on the cover. In the 1980s, writer-character actor Timothy Carey, with assistance from painter Salvador Dali, invoked the figure and the “let-it-all-out” consciousness of Le Petomane during a murder trial (a man accidentally killed a woman when he farted) in a bizarre stage play called The Insect Trainer, subtitled Le Pet. While casting the play, Carey told Filmfax magazine, “I’d take a big fart in front of [the actors]. That’s always a big help. I always thought if you really want to be a good actor, you’ve got to be able to fart in public.”

Jim Dawson, Who Cut the Cheese?: A Cultural History of the Fart; Ten Speed Press, 1998

The Insect Trainer

Pic of the Day: “The Devil’s Gas” revisited

We begin the last week in November with another look at Professor Petro, the bizarre lecturer from Romeo Carey‘s short film The Devil’s Gas (1990). His talk on “Dali and the Power of the Fart” sends the film’s sleepy protagonist into a surreal, nightmarish landscape.

The Devil's Gas

Timothy’s final film performance can be yours! Visit Absolute Films and snag your copy today (it says VHS, but no worries, Romeo will send you a DVD).

Pic of the Day: “The Devil’s Gas” revisited

Our pic today takes another look at Professor Petro, who confounds his students with a lecture on “Dali and the Power of the Fart” in The Devil’s Gas (1990), the short film directed by Timothy’s son Romeo. It was Tim’s last film performance.

The Devil's Gas

When I visited Tim’s studio last summer, Romeo showed me the boots Tim wore in this film – or more accurately, the boot. He only wore one because by this time he had had his first stroke, and his feet tended to swell up a bit. He was only able to get one boot on, so he wore a tennis shoe on the other foot. What looked like another of Tim’s eccentricities had its roots in practicality. Get yourself a copy of The Devil’s Gas at Absolute Films today!

Quote of the Week

THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1963)

Music like the worst nightmare the Cramps ever had.

Timothy Carey – the charismatically malevolent “heavy” of The Killing, The Wild One, Paths of Glory, and East of Eden – single-handedly made this film between 1960 and 1963 in and around the town of El Monte, outside Los Angeles. Its plot centers on forty-year-old Clarence, who quits his job at an insurance company so that he can don the mantle of a rock star and run for public office as God. Carey’s portrayal of a rock star in a gold suit backed by a ragtag Mexican band is so fantastically bizarre that it puts Salvador Dali (Carey’s idol) to shame. During his main performance, which is sour and atonal, Carey falls to his knees and screams, “Please! Please! Please!” (Without ever having seen or heard of James Brown!)

The World’s Greatest Sinner isn’t a music movie per se, but its soundtrack stands out. For the background music, Carey hired a young, unproven local odd-ball, Frank Zappa, to compose a full orchestral score. Their association was short-lived, however. Appearing on the Steve Allen show playing a bicycle, Zappa made disparaging remarks about the film that earned Carey’s lifelong enmity.  (Still, they both made cameo appearances in the MonkeesHead.) Although this crude but uniquely imaginative undertaking was ignored by major distributors when it first came out, history has heaped kudos on The World’s Greatest Sinner – and on Carey for his bravery, wit, and vision. Fans, take note: Still alive, Carey makes occasional film and TV appearances. He also pops up at showings of his films at revival houses around L.A. In early 1991, he was completing a stage play, The Insect Trainer, about a postal worker killed by a fart.

Art Fein, from Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Movies by Marshall Crenshaw (HarperPerennial, 1994)

The World's Greatest Sinner

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)