Quote of the Week

MARON:  Now, coming full circle, do you know – are you familiar with Timothy Carey?

GLOVER:  Yes! I went to his house – (laughs)

MARON (laughing): I knew it! I knew it!

GLOVER:  Yeah, I went to his house in the ’80s, late ’80s.

MARON:  Like, is he a role model?

GLOVER:  Well, there were two actors when I was studying acting – I could always detect, I could always figure out what the method, for lack of a better word, was that an actor was employing to get to their state. But there were two actors that I did not feel that way about. One of them was Andy Kaufman, and the other was Timothy Carey. And I never met Andy Kaufman, but I had the opportunity to go to Timothy Carey’s house, and it was a very, it was a really – it was really fascinating. I’m very glad I had that experience.

MARON:  When I, when I sort of started –

GLOVER:  Did you know him?

MARON:  No no no, but when I started thinking about you, and about, you know, sort of – not a template but somebody who was within the system and then started to kind of really break away in an extreme way, I thought about Timothy Carey, who I loved in some of the earlier movies; I’m not that familiar with his work, you know – 

GLOVER:  Well, have you ever seen The World’s Greatest Sinner?

MARON:  No.

GLOVER:  He directed it.

MARON:  Right, right. No, I know about the movie but I’ve not seen it.

GLOVER:  It’s worth seeing. I saw it for the first time at his house. He didn’t have it out on DVD at the time and he –

MARON:  That’s the one that Zappa did the soundtrack for, correct?

GLOVER:  Yes, I believe that’s right, yeah.

MARON:  What was your experience with Timothy Carey?

GLOVER:  Well, it was fascinating.

MARON:  Yeah. You were going there to figure him out, in a way.

GLOVER:  Yes.

MARON:  How did that happen? How did you get the opportunity to go there?

GLOVER:  A friend of mine, Adam Parfrey

MARON:  I know Adam Parfrey, I’ve interviewed him.

GLOVER:  Oh you did? OK great, great. Adam –

MARON:  It makes sense, it’s all coming together. Apocalypse Culture, the first volume, changed my life. And it seems like you’re kind of symbiotic –

GLOVER:  Yeah, he’s a great publisher. He’s in my first film, he’s in What Is It? 

MARON:  His father was a character actor as well.

GLOVER:  That’s right. That’s something he and I have in common. […]

MARON:  So he set you up with Timothy?

GLOVER:  Well, there was a friend of his, or somebody he was acquainted with, that had been in contact with Timothy Carey, and so that was set up so that the three of us went to Timothy Carey’s house. We were there for a number of hours.

MARON:  And what did you glean?

GLOVER:  (laughs) Well, um, (laughs) I’m trying to think if it’s right to say, but – (long pause) he was – (laughs) (long pause) (laughs) – the first hour was spent talking, Timothy Carey talked about passing gas, and the health of this –

MARON:  Uh huh. For an hour. 

GLOVER:  Yes. (laughs) And at first of course it was kind of funny, the first 15 or (laughs) 20 minutes it was funny. And then, and then – (MARON laughs) – it was very serious. He wasn’t doing it as a joke. And then it wasn’t really so funny (he and MARON continue to laugh throughout). And then it was kind of funny again. We were there for several hours.

MARON:  Well, you watched the film, right?

GLOVER:  Eventually – probably about two hours into it. We were at his guest house, which was larger than this and was kind of his studio, and we were out there for most of the time. Then we went into his living room and he showed us the film, which was excellent. It’s a very interesting movie. And then I asked him – what I noticed about him, I went and saw both East of Eden and…

MARON:  The Killing?

GLOVER: And The Killing. I think I saw The Killing a little later.

MARON:  Paths of Glory

GLOVER:  Paths of Glory I saw later. But I noticed when I was watching the films [Ed. note: The other film must have been One-Eyed Jacks]– you know, James Dean is one of those actors that you’re studying as a young actor, and Marlon Brando – but in those scenes, Timothy Carey has fight scenes with both of them in bars. But in those scenes, my eye was not on James Dean, my eye was not on Marlon Brando, it was on Timothy Carey. But the part that I hesitate to say a little bit but maybe I’ll say it – at one point – you hear a lot of different tales, I don’t know if you’ve heard a lot of tales about Timothy Carey, but I’ve heard a lot of tales about him that are fascinating. Like he disappeared during the shooting of Paths of Glory in Germany. If you look at the film, his character is in shadows at a certain point in the prison. But he wasn’t originally supposed to be in the shadows. He disappeared during the middle of production. I’ve heard different tales as to how he was found, but essentially they just had to hide his character and then they put him back in once he showed back up again. Also I think he met his wife in Germany there, and Kubrick did as well. So there’s something in common. But he kind of pointed at his head at one point and said – I almost feel like I’m betraying something private. He said something about his mental health. So it was fascinating to me because I realized that part of what was hard for me to detect about him was there was something going on, I gleaned or assumed from talking to him, that was essentially undetectable because he was having, for lack of a better word, mental health issues. And so that’s part of why I would say probably it was hard for me to detect what his specific method was. Like Marlon Brando, he’s a great actor but I can essentially understand what he’s employing to get to the state, or James Dean. But like I said, I never met Andy Kaufman so I don’t know exactly where it was coming from. And Timothy Carey, even having had that meeting of course, I don’t know the exact neurons, so to speak, for getting to that point.

MARON:  Well, you’re sort of one of those guys too. 

GLOVER:  Well, I probably early on have always been interested in the idea of art and madness, for the lack of a better word, as being good for art.

Crispin GloverWTF Podcast with Marc Maron #673 (01.18.16)

glovermaron

“The Killing” Comes to the Big Screen in Portland!

Tonight is opening night for the Portland edition of I Wake Up Dreaming, the excellent film noir fest curated by Elliot Lavine for nearly thirty years in San Francisco. Seven days and nights of film noir at Cinema 21! I’m thrilled to report that one of the films shown on the fest’s final day, March 23rd, will be Stanley Kubrick‘s classic heist thriller The Killing (1956), the film that truly brought Timothy to the attention of the film world. I’m also thrilled to report that I will be catching a few words on video with Mr. Lavine this weekend! If you’re in town, don’t you dare miss this stellar presentation! I may even try to do a quick Facebook Live video tonight, just to test it out. See you there!

On the Occasion of Sterling Hayden’s 100th Birthday Anniversary

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.

Hellgate

Hellgate (1952), with Joan Leslie and James Anderson

Crime Wave

Crime Wave (1954), with Phyllis Kirk, Gene Nelson and Mack Chandler

The Killing (1956)

The Killing (1956), directed by Stanley Kubrick

Quote of the Week

Reservoir Dogs was dedicated in part to Lionel White, the hardboiled pulp novelist who wrote the source material for The Killing, among other film noir. Another member of this film’s production also linked to Reservoir Dogs is the actor Timothy Carey who played the sniper in The Killing. At 6’4” Timothy Carey was made to lurk and menace in the background but he was too kinetic to stay there. He was passed over for several big film roles (including Reservoir Dogs) because he had a reputation for being unpredictable and physically intimidating. Tarantino gave the role to Timothy Carey’s friend Lawrence Tierney, another brutish character actor.

Actors, particularly grizzled veterans of B-movies, have a special sway over Tarantino. As a rabid movie buff, his imagination is excited by the gruff, violent men who almost seem subhuman. Cretinous demeanors suggesting amorality are the stuff of Tarantino’s charm over an audience.

The Killing promo still

 

 

Quote of the Week

Timothy Carey, the name has a certain aura to it. Some cinephiles know this feeling, those who go out on a limb and watch what little role he has. Carey, a character actor who zigzagged through the latter half of American cinema’s history, from A to Z pictures and everything in between, had a special talent. He could make a thin role into something memorable. He threw his 6’ 4’’ body around and spoke with a voice that sounded more like a cement mixer. He stole scenes, evaporating the memory of those that came before and after it.

Only Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes managed to integrate Carey into their films seamlessly. For both filmmakers, he appeared twice in their work. For Kubrick: The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). For Cassavetes: Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). They were able to rein in Carey, controlling his high-strung acting for maximum effect. In Paths of Glory, in fact, Carey gives a career-performance. An interlude from the psychotics he often played, as Private Ferol, Carey is a smooth man, someone who would fit in with Jack Kerouac and co., not WWI France. By film’s end, he becomes unraveled. Along with Ralph Meeker and Joe Turkel, he’s one of the soldiers court-martialed and executed. “I don’t want to die,” he repeats, sniveling, whimpering, and crying as he faces the firing squad.

For every friend, Carey had three or four enemies, people who couldn’t tolerate his brand of free-wheeling, combusting improvisation. Fact and legend often blur in Hollywood history. In Carey’s case, there seems to be more legend than fact. His bouts with actors and directors are tabloid-worthy and tailor-made to his outsider persona. Billy Wilder and James B. Harris fired him. Elia Kazan dubbed his guttural lines. Richard Widmark and Karl Malden beat him. Marlon Brando stabbed him with a pen. Always cheeky, Carey proclaimed that he was fired more than any other actor in Hollywood.

Paths of Glory

Quote of the Week

“The World’s Greatest Sinner” and the Big Timothy Carey Question

Timothy Who? Timothy Agoglia Carey, sometimes Tim Carey, most of the time Timothy Carey. 1929-94. This character actor (dis)graced American screens for five decades, playing vile, despicable and loathsome scum of the earth, void of any redeeming quality.

What has he been in? You might be familiar with The Wild One (1953), East of Eden (1955), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) to mention a few out of 50 something screen appearances – not counting television, which credits for about 50 more. Despite this sizable curriculum, he was quite possibly fired more often than any other actor in Hollywood, for example by Billy Wilder and Arthur Penn, and also quite willfully turned down parts in movies such as the first two Godfather films as well as Kubrick‘s Spartacus.

Why so vile, despicable etc? Well, he throws a beer in Brando‘s face, beats up James Dean, crushes a cockroach, pushes a girl into a bowl of chili, shoots a horse and verbally abuses a black man, all this in the most unspeakable of ways. And all this during the first ten years of his career…

If so vile etc – why is he worth watching? This 193 cm/6′ 4″ male specimen sported a pair of heavy-lidded eyes that matched Robert Mitchum’s, a set of clenched teeth that beat out Burt Lancaster’s, a dance routine that would have frightened James Brown and tantrums that outdid Harvey Keitel’s. This is partly why.

The World’s Greatest Sinner? A film he wrote, directed, produced and starred in, shot between 1958 and 1961, and released in 1963. He plays Clarence Hilliard, an insurance salesman who quits his job, changes his name from Clarence to God (he keeps Hilliard) and starts his own political/religious movement, promising to turn everyone into “millionaires, gods, super human beings!” He dons a silver lamé suit [NB: It was actually gold] and becomes a (very unlikely) rock ‘n’ roll idol, then runs for president of the United States as the candidate of The Eternal Man Party. The film is narrated by a snake and was promoted as “The most condemned and praised American movie of its Time”, but soon disappeared from the public eye. Among the few people who saw it were Frank Zappa, who wrote the film’s songs and called it the world’s worst film, and John Cassavetes, who said it had the emotional brilliance of Eisenstein. Among the people who didn’t see it was an indifferent Ingmar Bergman, despite the fact that Carey sent a friend to Sweden with a print earmarked for the director’s viewing pleasure, as well as a most enthusiastic Elvis Presley, on whom Carey did not want to waste a precious print, as he only had four left.

Carey and Vienna? Some almost five decades late, in November 1st, 2009, The World’s Greatest Sinner finally had its Austrian premiere. A packed audience at the legendary Gartenbaukino cinema in Vienna savoured the treat with awe. A tribute section devoted to selected Carey gems included Head (featuring pop group The Monkees and written by Jack Nicholson), Minnie and Moskowitz, Paths of Glory, Poor White Trash (a sordid exploitation story in which scary Carey is again seen doing a crazy dance), and another Carey directorial effort, Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena, in which he plays a kind (!) member of a ladies knitting club who constantly roller-skates and wants to clothe naked animals. Along for the ride was Romeo Carey, one of four [NB: Actually six] of the actor’s children, providing insightful information on his father’s career (as well as being living proof of the fact that Carey, apart from being vile, despicable and loathsome, also was a family man) and guiding us through a highly unusual career (which also include a one-man stage performance on the topic of flatulence).

So is he just a cult guy? True, if Carey is in a film, even if it’s Francis the Talking Mule in the Haunted House, it’s worth seeing. Even in the smallest of parts, he manages to steal from the greatest of greats – some of them feeling surprisingly outdated these days, whereas Carey himself remains utterly watchable. In this respect, he comes across as a forerunner of sorts to actors like Vincent Gallo, Harvey Keitel and even Michael Richards, whose Kramer character in Seinfeld arguably owes a moment or two to Carey. In other words, this is an actor with a resonating presence. The idea of giving Carey a well-deserved tribute is thus highly appropriate, as well as being film festival retrospective programming at its finest.

Why has no one come up with this idea before? That’s The Big Timothy Carey Question. Quite simply.

"He's the World's Greatest Sinner" by eyeodyssey on Deviantart

“He’s the World’s Greatest Sinner” by Aaron Dylan Kearns (eyeodyssey) on DeviantArt