Columbo Star Faked His Own Kidnapping On Set of Kubrick’s Movie For The Most Ridiculous Reason
It's the craziest thing you could ever get fired for.
- Stanley Kubrick was a very difficult director to work with, but his precision allowed him to create brilliant films that have had a great impact on the cinema.
- Actor Timothy Carey was a headache for Kubrick during the production of Paths of Glory.
- Carey staged his own kidnapping to draw attention to himself and his character.
You know Stanley Kubrick. An ambitious self-taught man, he achieved the title of one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. Many viewers consider him to be the greatest, and it is difficult to argue with this opinion: during his career, Kubrick made 13 films (not counting his early documentaries), many of which became universally recognized classics, which continue to find their audience and are still quoted in popular culture.
What Was Working With Stanley Kubrick Like?
Everyone who worked with Stanley Kubrick talked about his meticulous perfectionism. He could reshoot a scene a hundred times to get it just right. He would spend years developing his own projects. Sometimes he would travel to the other part of the world to record the necessary sound or to reshoot a bad shot.
Thanks to this kind of obsession, Kubrick's movies have recognizable authorial features – symmetry of the frame and a unique color palette.
Although almost all of the actors who were lucky enough to be cast in the great director’s movies admired him, some also admitted that it was difficult to work with the perfectionist Kubrick – he demanded actors to work to their limits.
So, it’s only natural that a person like Kubrick also demanded almost complete obedience from his actors, and the word "improvisation" was something of a strong language on the set.
Timothy Carey Was a Problem on Paths of Glory Set
In 1957, Kubrick released the movie Paths of Glory. The production of this project was complicated not only by technical issues, but also by the behavior of one of the actors – Timothy Carey, known to many for his roles in Columbo and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
The movie's producer, James B. Harris, said in an interview:
“Tim Carey was a problem. [He’s] an incredible presence on the screen […] but he was nothing but trouble.”
Carey was constantly improvising on the set and was a rather eccentric person, which infuriated Kubrick. In addition, although Timothy proved to be a brilliant actor, he had not yet achieved great fame at the time of the filming of Paths of Glory. Therefore, in order to draw attention to himself and his character, the actor came up with nothing better than to… stage his own kidnapping.
Harris was awakened in the middle of the night by the police, who told him that Timothy had been found tied up somewhere on the highway. Remember that Timothy was an eccentric man? This act literally makes him the definition of eccentric. And what did Kubrick do? He fired Carey, of course.
How Important Was Paths of Glory in Kubrick's Career?
Paths of Glory was Stanley Kubrick's first major success – a pacifist film that mixed the genres of war and courtroom drama. The action takes place during World War I on the Western Front: after the failure of an ill-conceived operation, the authorities want to arbitrarily shoot three men convicted of cowardice.
The role of the colonel who tries to protect his subordinates is played by the legendary Kirk Douglas, who would soon persuade Kubrick to work on the great epic Spartacus. A minimalist but expressive film about the nature of war and violence has been recognized as one of the best anti-war movies of all time.
Source: Criterion Collection