Quote of the Week

I was a child laborer, as were my brother and four sisters. The family property rests on a half an acre with three buildings: the family residence, a guesthouse, and the studio. The studio was alive with production work for many years, and on the property was a bustling menagerie of more than a hundred farm and exotic animals that included chickens, ducks, geese, goats, horse, cats, dogs, birds of prey, and a monkey. The animals were the responsibility of the children, supervised by my mother and father. […]

Like a farmer’s son, I felt compelled to follow in my father’s footsteps, or at least to facilitate the journey he had hoped to make as a filmmaker. As his right hand man toward the end of his life, I managed his career and helped produce and write projects with him. We were as close as a father and son could be; but I knew there were things about my father I would never comprehend or reconcile. I felt I had complete access to him in ways only a father and son could share. It was during these final years that a crystallization of understanding was formed which gave me the ability to better understand the underlying meaning in his artistic efforts. In The World’s Greatest Sinner, he was an outspoken smuggler. He had the ability to cultivate the shocks and hyperbole of tabloid headlines. Nothing escaped his scathing irony. His work was an antidote to complacency during the Cold War. American hypocrisy was always a major target. And to take on the subject matter of sex, religion, politics, and rock ‘n’ roll, he knew that he was playing a game so big that he wasn’t going to screw it up.

– Romeo Carey, “Making Sinner, A Work-In-Progress,” from Dead Flowers (Vox Populi/Participant Press, 2011)

Byron and Romeo

My husband Byron with Romeo Carey in Timothy’s El Monte studio, before the stone wall that Tim built himself, June 2013

Pic of the Day: “The Boy and the Pirates” promo still

We celebrate Valentine’s Day by, firstly, wishing Timothy’s youngest, Germain, a very happy birthday! And secondly, by posting this absolutely lovely and relatively rare promotional still from Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). It’s Tim in full-on pirate mode, complete with musket, earring, and “AAARRGH”.

The Boy and the Pirates promo still

I have only seen this particular still once before, at Tim’s studio in El Monte during my visit there a while back. It was particularly noteworthy because Tim himself had decorated it in his own inimitable way. He had drawn lines coming out of the musket barrel, and written alongside it “FART POSE”. I could not stop laughing. I hope we all get to see that particular photo some day soon…


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!

The Tweet’s Lady of Pasadena Report.

Well, it’s been an amazing trip so far. Saturday night Romeo Carey, my husband and I headed out to the desert and met up with the splendiferous Don Calfa, who showed us through his memorabilia-packed double-wide trailer and happily shared his memories of working with Timothy in Peeper (1975) and their subsequent friendship. He is a card and a character, and I’m happy to now be able to call him my friend.

Don Calfa and me

Sunday afternoon brought us together with the delightful Joey Sinko, who generously assisted Romeo in filming our interview with the legendary Seymour Cassel. I am happy to lay at least one oft-told rumor to rest: There was no animosity between he and Timothy during the Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) shoots. They were simply two inveterate scene-stealers who sometimes got on each other’s nerves. It happens even in the best of families. “I loved Timothy. He was wonderful,” said Seymour. And I’ve made another friend.

Seymour Cassel and me

Monday my husband and I attended the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Utterly amazing in every way! There wasn’t a whole lot there in the way of Tim, but what was there was choice. I was especially intrigued by a page from the original script of The Killing (1956) that featured a scene with Tim’s character, Nikki Arcane, that did not appear in the finished film. I wonder if this was actually filmed and then not used, or if it ever even got filmed?

Page from The Killing script

Display for The Killing, Kubrick exhibit, LACMA

Display for Paths of Glory, Kubrick exhibit, LACMAPlotting out shots for Paths of Glory

Tonight we are heading down to El Monte to visit Tim’s studio, so stay tuned for more reports as they come! This is Tweet’s Lady of Pasadena signing off for now. Toodle-oo!

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

Today we take another gander at Professor Petro, the very strange lecturer on “Dali and the Power of the Fart,” of Romeo Carey‘s The Devil’s Gas (1990). It was Timothy’s final film performance. Note the poster of Tim as Pvt. Ferol from Paths of Glory (1957) on the wall.

During my visit to the Absolute Films studio last summer, Romeo showed me the boots that Tim wore in this scene. Well, he was wearing one of them anyway. When I asked him if Tim did that on purpose as part of his characterization, he said no. Tim had had his first stroke by this time, and his left leg was a bit swollen as a result. It was difficult for him to get the boot on, so he just wore one boot and a tennis shoe. As it turns out, it’s a perfect representation of the Professor’s eccentricity.

Pic of the Day: “Crime Wave” revisited

Crime Wave (1954), also known as The City is Dark, is one of the greatest examples of film noir that we have. Directed by Andre’ De Toth, it’s got a docudrama feel; the script is tight and snappy; the cinematography is crisp, perfect black and white; the editing is stellar; the cast is amazing; and the characterizations are top-notch. It was shot in 1952 but not released until 1954. Timothy’s giggling hop-head Johnny doesn’t appear until the final half hour or so, but he nonetheless manages to walk away with the film quite handily. He must have really annoyed some of the higher-ups behind the scenes, for he received no screen credit for what can truly be considered his breakout role. Here he is making his intentions toward Ellen Lacey (Phyllis Kirk) unmistakably clear.

When I visited Tim’s studio in El Monte in July, there was a still on the wall from this film, showing Johnny kissing Ellen full on the lips. This shot is wisely not in the film; to me the menace is more effective if he doesn’t actually follow through, or at least is not shown doing so. But it may, however, provide a clue as to why the part is uncredited. As Tim wrote in his remembrance of James Dean, “I affected a twitch like a narcotics addict, I turned on a low, sensual, half-crazy laugh, gritted my teeth and dug my hands into her shoulders – just like the creep I was portraying would have done in real life. But Phyllis wasn’t impressed with my realism. She found me too convincing. She broke and got hysterical. I had to go apologize to her, although I don’t know what I was apologizing for.”