Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Evening with Timothy Carey


About thirty five minutes into Tweet's Ladies of Pasadena I felt as if I'd had a psychotic break. The story of a bizarre man-child, Tweet Twig (Timothy Carey)--the only male member of the "Don't Drop a Stitch Knitting Club"--the film apparently combines a score of episodes for a television show that never happened. With most shots running less than a second, characters speaking in tandem, and things occurring on screen that come close to being a plot without actually adhering to anything close to a coherent narrative, Tweet's confounded the audience.

You could say that Tweet's was akin to a car crash but where that analogy works for compelling disasters, Tweet's drove several folks out of the theater. I was tempted to leave as my head was pounding but couldn't imagine that the breakneck pace could continue unabated and that the film would never return to some of the items that passed by winkquick as it unfolded. What about the people covered in roses? How about the dog that came back to life? Would Tweet ever find a job? Why did his wife not appear for the first third of the film and then appear to be different woman for the final third? Would those South American ants play a part in anything?

I've had drug trips that are more lucid than Tweet's Ladies of Pasadena.

Overall, I'm glad I saw it but it may take me a while to recover from it.

After the screening Timothy Carey's son, Romeo, gave a brief Q&A where he said Tweet's was shot over a period of roughly seven years, as if it had been a show that the elder Carey worked on despite it never being picked up by a network. And, despite the wild programming that populated the TV landscape in the '70s, I could never see such a show playing. It's still not clear if the 70+ minutes of Tweet's shown was one show or several cut together. The print screened appeared to be some kind of work print that had been edited to within an inch of its life.

I was hoping for some more information about Tweet's in the documentary about Timothy Carey, Making Sinner. However, this seemed to focus on Carey's early career up to and including The World's Greatest Sinner (1962).

Directed by Romeo Carey, I fear that Carey's son may be too close to the project when it comes to presenting a complete portrait of his father. Instead of being behind the camera, the eloquent Romeo would be better in front of the lens, relating the untold tales of his father's passion and wild life. As it stands, the rough cut of Making Sinner was a rather disjointed assembly of a handful of interviews and abrupt clips punctuated with stock photos. I'm not sure if these pictures were meant to be funny but I couldn't help but laugh when something mentioned by an interviewee always came accompanied by a loosely-related image. Someone would say "Jesus" and we'd see "Jesus". Or, a rather happy Latino fellow wearing a sombrero appeared whenever Mexico was mentioned.

There's not enough about The World's Greatest Sinner in Making Sinner to truly qualify it as a documentary of the film. Yes, there's some interesting behind-the-scenes footage including takes of scenes that go on for far longer than in the final film (at one point cameraman Ray Dennis Steckler discusses a scene that was taken twice -- once at ten minutes and another at eight -- while the scene runs only thirty seconds in the final cut. Seeing these outtakes makes me wonder what World's Greatest Sinner would look like without the disjointed editing; or is that what gives the film so much of its charm?

Making Sinner demonstrates the need for the definitive documentary of Timothy Carey. This needs to happen soon, while people that worked with him are still alive. In Making Sinner the interviews with Carey's youngest brother and Ray Dennis Steckler are great, yes, but a Carey doc needs interviews with people like Peter Falk, Bob Rafelson, Robert Blake, and Ben Gazarra (to name a few). As it stands, Making Sinner is an ambitious idea that isn't quite ambitious enough in its scope (and not cohesive in its presentation).

Between Making Sinner and Tweet's Ladies of Pasadena the audience was treated to Cinema Justice, a single scene in which an unhinged Carey steamrolls fellow actor Michael C. Gwynne, and The World's Greatest Sinner -- always a treat.

Was the evening worth a 10 hour drive, $20 parking and a $109 speeding ticket?. Yes. I don't know if or when Tweet's will ever play again and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have my mind blown so thoroughly. Toodeloo!


Mike Faloon said...

Well done, Mike. I was there for the mayhem that is/was Tweets and have yet to find the words to capture the experience. Thankfully you did.

Anonymous said...

Nice review on an Impossibly Funky Artist (s) Romeo and Tim, Two of a Kind

Anonymous said...

Anon hope you mean 2 ofa kind in talent Tim stood up to the Hollyworld elite with no care for his own material success Perhaps he was doing master Parody on a system he had a bead on

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