Pic of the Day: “The Second Time Around” revisited

We head up the week with a shot from Vincent Sherman‘s amiable Western comedy The Second Time Around (1961) for the fourth or fifth time around on the blog. This one is another publicity still. Masked bad guy Bonner manhandles Lucretia Rogers (Debbie Reynolds), as Aggie Gates (Thelma Ritter) tries to prevent further mayhem.

The Second Time Around

Ms. Ritter, like Tim a Brooklyn native, was simply one of the greatest character actors ever, bar none. Her wry, wise-cracking presence enlivened many a classic film, from Miracle on 34th Street (1947) to All About Eve (1950) to Pickup on South Street (1953) to Rear Window (1954) and beyond. She was nominated six times for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, and never won. “Now I know what it feels like to be the bridesmaid and never the bride,” she said about this unfortunate turn of events. Shame on you, Oscar.

Pic of the Day: “The Adventure of Caesar’s Last Sleep” revisited

Better late than never for today’s pic, which is another from the Ellery Queen episode “The Adventure of Caesar’s Last Sleep”. It was first broadcast on March 14, 1976. Timothy gets to skulk around as snazzily dressed freelance hit man Jay Bonner.

The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep - 1976

He also played a bad guy named Bonner in The Second Time Around (1961). Character names tend to get recycled a lot in Hollywood, don’t they? Check out the episode right here (sorry about the ads).

Pic of the Day: “The Second Time Around” French lobby card

Today’s pic is an unusual one. It’s a French lobby card for Vincent Sherman‘s The Second Time Around (1961). The French title is La Farfelue de l’Arizona, which roughly translates to The Wacky Lady of Arizona. Okay then! Timothy, as bad guy Bonner, faces down Sheriff Burns (fellow Brooklynite Ken Scott). I’m pretty sure that’s Duane Grey as Bonner’s unnamed sidekick on the left.

The Second Time Around - French lobby card

It’s always interesting to come across movie memorabilia from foreign lands and see what the films are called in other languages. For instance, the Mexican lobby cards for Finger Man call the film Balas en la Noche, which translates to Bullets in the Night. Not quite accurate, but evocative.

Pic of the Day: “What’s the Matter with Helen?” revisited

Today it’s time for another look at the Curtis Harrington-directed shocker What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971). Timothy is briefly but memorably seen as a panhandling tramp in 1930s Hollywood. Here he thanks Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) and her beau Linc Palmer (Dennis Weaver) for their generosity and for “giving a damn.”

What's the Matter with Helen?

Tim had worked with both Reynolds and Weaver previously – with Reynolds in The Second Time Around (1961), and with Weaver in the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman” (6.7.58). He would work with him again the following year in the McCloud episode “Fifth Man in a String Quartet” (2.2.72). If Tim hadn’t been fired from Ralph Nelson‘s Duel at Diablo (1966), that would have made four times he’d worked with Weaver.

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

Pic of the Day: “What’s the Matter with Helen?” revisited

Our pic of the day revisits Curtis Harrington‘s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), the enjoyable creep-fest starring Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters. Timothy has a memorable cameo as a shabby bum begging for a handout in Depression-era Los Angeles. When Reynolds opens the door, this is the first thing she sees. Yikes!!

Tim had appeared previously with Reynolds in The Second Time Around (1961). It was during the making of that film that he met young Frank Zappa and hired him to write the score for The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962). You know the rest!