I’ve seen a couple of films recently featuring actor Roland Carey, a curious figure who was active in the Italian film industry for over twenty years, and though it was about time to do a little extended research into him.
Fortunately, there’s quite a bit of good information on the IMDB. Apparently he was born Henri Louis Roland Carey on February 20th 1933 to an Irish father and a French mother in Lausanne, Switzerland. He attended the Paris Conservatory, where he learned the acting trade, and started picking up stage work in the Parisian theatres. He appeared in French films as well from 1951, often in small or uncredited roles, and in the meantime pursued his interest in tennis, horse riding, ice hockey, soccer and swimming. Although not a bodybuilder, it wasn’t surprising that his athletic physique made him a natural for action films, and he had a notable role as Burt Lancaster’s double in Trapeze (56).
He moved to Hollywood in 1959 and picked up work in TV series such as The Twilight Zone, Bonanza and Thriller, and returned to Europe to appear in the TV series Tales of the Vikings, with Jerome Courtland and Walter Barnes. This bought him to the attention of Italian producers, who were looking for actors to participate in the popular peplums and historical adventures of the time. In 1960 he had the lead role in Riccardo Freda’s The Giants of Thessaly, which was a box office success and also won some critical plaudits. He followed this up with other starring roles in The Sword of El Cid, a primarily Spanish production directed by Miguel Iglesias, and Guido Malatesta’s Revolt of the Barbarians (64). It’s curious that after the success of The Giants of Thessaly he moved so quickly to lower budgeted productions such as these, and also that he made so few films; I’d have expected him to quickly be parachuted into more productions. maybe he got tied up in projects that didn’t work? Or tried his hand at moving back to the States for a short while? Whatever the case, he wasn’t seen as being a big enough name to give anything but an uncredited bit part to in The Fall of the Roman Empire, in which he played a Barbarian.
A second phase to his career began in the mid sixties, when he adopted the pseudonym Rod Carter and starred in Raoul André’s mediocre spy film Special Mission at Caracas (65), the obscure German thriller 48 Hours to Acapulco (67) and Federico Chentrens and Maurice Cloche’s not-at-all-bad The Killer Likes Candy (68). His roles in the latter two films were small, and he had more screen time in the extremely low budget crime film Bocche cucite, directed by Pino Tosini, which was probably made in 68/69 and released in 1970. He has a rather strange role as a police commissioner who has very little to do with the rest of the plot, giving rise to the suspicion that his part might have been beefed up in order to fill out the running time. He also had a starring role in Ferruccio Casapinta’s obscure giallo La bambola di Satana (69), opposite Erna Schurer, before disappearing from sight for much of the 1970s.
He might have been out of sight, but his voice was familiar as a dubber at Fono Roma, where he specialised in dubbing Italian pictures into French [I wonder if he also dubbed into English, given that he spoke it fluently].
In the early 1980’s, if the IMDB is to believed at any rate, his career took an even stranger turn. Between 1981 and 1982 he appeared in La voglia (81), Labbra vogliose (81), Sesso acerbo (81), Voglio di sesso (81), Le porno investigatrici (81) and Super Hard Love (82), all of which were porn films directed by either or both of Joe D’Amato and Claude Bernebai. I suspect that this might have been a different Roland Carey, and the two men’s CVs have become mixed up… but you never know, it could be him. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any of these so can’t confirm or deny…
A ‘Roland Carey’ also appeared in a few more films in the late 80s and early 90s. Gemini – The Twin Stars (88) was shot in Switzerland, so it’s highly likely it was Henri Louis Roland Carey, who had by this time moved back to Switzerland. Also in Switzerland was a small role as a drug dealer in Krzysztof Kieslowski Oscar nominated Three Colours Red (94), a Paolo Villaggio comedy Azzurro (2000) and his last known film, Le signe de onze heures (2001). Even if the ‘porn’ Roland Carey was a different guy – and I kind of hope not, the idea of someone appearing in peplums, porn and Kieslowski is simply too tempting – his career was curious and deserves some celebration.