We close the week with another look at the handout-seeking tramp of Curtis Harrington‘s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971). It’s a very brief appearance for Timothy, but Harrington imagined no one else in the role and insisted he be cast.
This week’s video is the trailer for Curtis Harrington‘s favorite of all of his films, What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971). Timothy is briefly glimpsed as the panhandling bum who gives Debbie Reynolds quite a scare.
Our pic of the day revisits the McCloud episode “Fifth Man in a String Quartet”. It was first broadcast on February 2, 1972. Timothy’s unnamed apartment house manager is taking McCloud (Dennis Weaver) to investigate the apartment of a musician suspected of murder.
If Tim had not been fired (I’m not 100% certain that’s what happened, but all signs point to it) from Duel at Diablo (1966), he would have worked with Weaver four times and not three. For sure they appeared together here, in the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman” (6.7.58), and in What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971).
Today we revisit Curtis Harrington‘s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), a gem of a film if ever there was one. Harrington, a humongous Careyphile, insisted on Timothy for the brief but memorable role of the bedraggled tramp who hits up Debbie Reynolds for a hand-out in Depression-era Hollywood.
I am currently reading and greatly enjoying Harrington’s long-awaited (and posthumous, unfortunately for us) autobiography, Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood: The Adventures of an Aesthete in the Movie Business. In fact, I’ve already used a couple of his observations about Tim for Quotes of the Week. Please do yourselves a favor and check out this book (and his short film collection while you’re at it); I predict you won’t be disappointed!
I had my heart set on Timothy Carey to play the tramp who asks Debbie [Reynolds] for a handout [in What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971)]. He was notoriously difficult to deal with and had an aggressive personality that frightened many people. Most producers didn’t want to work with him, but to the many creative directors who loved him – like Kazan, Cassavetes, and Kubrick – he was unique and irreplaceable. I was one of those directors. I ordered Caro [Jones, casting director] to offer him the part and make a deal with him. Still, there were a few sticky moments. One day she called me in terror to tell me that Timothy had warned her that he owned some vicious dogs and that if he didn’t get the part he would let them loose on her! I calmed her down and she made the deal.
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.”
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.
PENNY BLOOD: How did you manage to direct a peculiar talent like Timothy Carey in What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) and in “Set Up City,” a 1975 episode of Baretta?
HARRINGTON: I’m in that little club that includes Stanley Kubrick and John Cassavetes: directors who admired Timothy Carey for his uniqueness. The thing about Timothy was that he was as eccentric offscreen as on. That eccentricity is what we all loved, but it was not entirely controllable. Producers did not like to work with Timothy because he never did two takes the same way. The only way I got him on “Set Up City” was because the star of the show, Bobby Blake, gave his approval. But I adored Timothy Carey and was very happy to have him play a tramp in What’s the Matter with Helen? and a criminal in “Set Up City.” He was very inventive. He would ad-lib extra lines. Some of them were so funny that I would burst out laughing in the middle of a take. Of course, my laugh was on the soundtrack so we’d have to do another take, which was kind of embarrassing.
There’s a scene in “Set Up City” where Timothy roughs up a used car salesman. Timothy was a bit out of control because he really hurt the other actor who later sued through the Screen Actors’ Guild. When I first met Timothy, I was terrified of him. I couldn’t imagine that I’d ever work with him. But he knew who I was. One day I ran into him on the Fox lot and he hugged me and said: “Oh Curtis, you are the greatest, man! You’re the best!” I realized that he really liked me and I had nothing to fear. (Laughs) So I took him into my heart.
We kick off the work week with another look at the McCloud episode “Fifth Man in a String Quartet,” first broadcast on February 2, 1972. Timothy’s unnamed apartment house manager is helping out McCloud (Dennis Weaver) with a case.
As we all know, Tim and Weaver appeared three times together – here, in the Gunsmoke episode “The Gentleman” (1958), and in What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971). What most people don’t know, though, is that it might have been four. Tim had been cast in Ralph Nelson‘s Duel at Diablo (1966), also co-starring Weaver, and had a big fight scene with star James Garner. However, it looks like this was yet another film that Timothy was fired from. It would be nice to get the full scoop on what happened.
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!