Quote of the Week

GL: Who else did you have trouble with?

TC: With Marlon [Brando] on The Wild One [53]. When I shook up a bottle of beer and let the foam go into his face, he didn’t like that. But he would be up-front about it. When I worked with him on One-Eyed Jacks, he told me, “I hope you’re not going to throw any more beer at me.” Marlon was great, but Karl Malden was kind of skittish. In our scene when he kicked me, he kicked me a lot, so I said, “Marlon, if this guy kicks me again I’m gonna clobber him.” But he kept doing it. He had a touch of Richard Widmark in him. Widmark stomped me bad in a Western we made in Arizona, The Last Wagon [56]. He stomped me while I was down, kept going at it for five minutes, just because I reacted when he mock-stabbed me in the scene. He apologized later, but I wouldn’t accept it.

Grover Lewis, “Cracked Actor: Timothy Carey”, Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992

One-Eyed Jacks

Quote of the Week

Born in Brooklyn, in 1929, Carey went to acting school and was a full-on believer of always being “in the moment” – a tendency that led to sudden, sometimes enraging improvisation (that beer he throws in Marlon Brando‘s face in “The Wild One” was not planned). But Kubrick saw something, and rescued Carey from years of bit parts to cast him first as the gunman in “The Killing,” and then as one of the railroaded soldiers in “Paths of Glory.”

It was a good match. Kubrick understood the importance of actors but didn’t have the slightest understanding of how they did what they did, or even how to guide them. It was one of the director’s few artistic failings, and it could lead to hundreds of frustrating takes or over-the-top performances. But some actors – like Malcolm McDowell, like Peter Sellers – saw this as a freedom.

So did Carey. His most memorable scene in “Paths of Glory,” in fact – with the sentenced soldier moaning “I don’t want to die” – was made up on the spot.

There’s something of a John Turturro in the young Carey, and those two movies with Kubrick suggested the kind of long collaboration that Turturro would later have with Spike Lee, or the Coen Brothers. And, in fact, Carey later had a part in “One-Eyed Jacks,” a film Kubrick had been signed to direct, before star Marlon Brando took over. But Kubrick went on to other projects, and he and Carey never worked again.

Stephen Whitty, “The World’s Wildest Actor”; The New Jersey Star-Ledger (October 21, 2008)

One-Eyed Jacks

Quote of the Week

A combination of hepcat messiah, hulking loner and life-long loose cannon, the great character actor Timothy Carey (1929 – 1994) cut a fearsome, unforgettable figure on-screen, whether it was manhandling James Dean in EAST OF EDEN, throwing beer in Brando’s face in THE WILD ONE, or moaning pitifully on his way to execution in PATHS OF GLORY. Carey was cast most often as a menacing gunman/enforcer, a role he played with relish in crime classics like THE KILLING, CRIME WAVE and THE OUTFIT. His off-screen reputation was just as notorious – Carey once got caught scaling the fence at 20th Century Fox in full armor to audition for PRINCE VALIANT, and he faked his own kidnapping in Germany during shooting on PATHS OF GLORY.

In reality, Carey was a restless, completely dedicated performer who counted John Cassavetes among his closest friends, and acted each role “like it’s the last film I’m gonna make, and I want it to be the best” (Carey.) His self-made 1962 masterpiece THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER – in which an ordinary man declares himself “God” in a SoCal suburb – fully deserves its reputation as one of the most outrageous underground movies ever made.

American Cinematheque, “The World’s Greatest Sinner! A Tribute to TIMOTHY CAREY”, November 4-5, 2000

Keep Calm and Watch TC!

 

Quote of the Week

You remember Timothy Carey, don’t you? Didn’t you see The Wild One? He’s the crazy guy who shook up the beer and squirted it in Marlon Brando‘s face. Did you see East of Eden? He was the surly bouncer at the brothel where James Dean‘s mother worked. Poor Tim mumbled his lines so badly that Elia Kazan had to have Albert Dekker re-dub all his dialogue. Tim thought Kazan missed the whole point. “That’s the way pimps talk,” he explained. How about The Killing, by Stanley Kubrick? He was the racist rifleman who shoots the horse at the racetrack to create a diversion for the heist. You must have seen Paths of Glory, another great Kubrick film – Carey is one of the three court-martialed soldiers sentenced to execution.

All his characterizations seem to inspire a common reaction: “What the hell’s the matter with this guy?” Tim Carey had a uniquely twisted screen presence that many great directors tried, and often failed, to harness. He was the only man that Kazan ever physically attacked on the set. Brando cast him in One-Eyed Jacks, and ended up stabbing him with a pen in exasperation. Carey didn’t seem to care; he went on being Tim Carey. When new friends, like the maverick actor/director John Cassavetes, came to Carey’s house for the first time, he made them wear a bulky, padded suit. He then turned his attack dog loose on them. “It’s not you,” Carey would howl. “He just hates that suit.”

Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris, Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of “Adults Only” Cinema (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 1996)

Eddie Muller and Marisa at Noir City Portland, 2014

Meeting Eddie Muller, “the Czar of Noir,” at Noir City Portland at the Hollywood Theatre, 09/19/2014

Quote of the Week

After that [The Wild One], I tried to get into PRINCE VALIANT (54, Robert Wagner starred). So I went to Western Costume to dress up like Sir Black [sic; the character’s name is actually Brack. The part eventually went to James Mason], the heavy in it.They fitted me in this outfit, all sashed pants and that had a medieval glove with a weapon from that era. And I thought, how am I gonna get in there, so I went to climb the fence at 20th Century Fox, but I couldn’t make it because of the clothes I had on. It was right near a golf course and a golfer helped me over with a ladder. I told him I was an actor on the set who got lost. I tried to find the director, Henry Hathaway, but he wasn’t in his office so I went to the commissary where he was having lunch and said, “Here I am, Sir Black! My men number many. I’m here for the part. Do I get it?” I took out my knife. He said, “Put the knife away, you got the part.” Then I was escorted off the lot. I never got the part, but I enjoyed it. It was fun.

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

The Wild One poster

Pic of the Day: “One-Eyed Jacks” promotional still

Today we observe the 90th birthday anniversary of the legendary Marlon Brando. Timothy appeared with him twice, in The Wild One (1953) and One-Eyed Jacks (1961). Here is a rarely seen promo still from that latter film that I received from friend of the blog Toby Roan, author of the forthcoming A Million Feet of Film: The Making of One-Eyed Jacks. In a scene not appearing in the final cut of the film, the dead body of ne’er-do-well Howard Tetley is carried away by Rio, the man who shot him (Brando), Chico (Larry Duran) and Sheriff Dad Longworth (Karl Malden).

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

 

“You know, I was always a hound for publicity,” Tim said in the Psychotronic interview. “They were doing the Academy Awards and Brando was up for it. Well, I knew him from The Wild One, I knew he was going to get it (for On the Waterfront), so I was getting dressed up for it and I was going to go up there and get it before he got there, but some guy from Western Costume who was dressing me up talked me out of it.” I think most of us secretly – or perhaps not so secretly – wish he had gone ahead with his dastardly plan. Sending afterlife birthday greetings to you, Mr. Brando!

Quote of the Week

You know, I was always a hound for publicity. They were doing the Academy Awards and Brando was up for it. Well, I knew him from The Wild One, I knew he was going to get it (for On the Waterfront), so I was getting dressed up for it and I was going to go up there and get it before he got there, but some guy from Western Costume who was dressing me up talked me out of it.

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

Congratulations to all of tonight’s Oscar winners!

The Wild One