Sunday, September 13, 2009

Timothy Carey: Deep Underground with "The World's Greatest Sinner"




"World's Greatest Sinner"


Above and top, Timothy Agoglia Carey, as Clarence "God"

An insurance salesman turned rock n roll musician becomes the center of a religio-political cult, in fact, changes his name to "God" Hilliard, attracts enormous crowds with his philosophy of "Eternal Man" until he attempts to go mano y mano with his (His?) heavenly counterpart and has a rude awakening.

Timothy Agoglia Carey (March 11, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York – May 11, 1994 in Los Angeles, California) was an American actor and director.

Carey wrote, produced, directed and starred in the 1962 feature The World's Greatest Sinner which was scored by Frank Zappa. Although it had no commercial release, the film has achieved cult status and established Carey as an important figure in independent film.

As a supporting actor, Carey appeared in the Stanley Kubrick films The Killing and Paths of Glory, and in the John Cassavetes films Minnie and Moskowitz and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. He had roles in East of Eden, The Wild One, and Beach Blanket Bingo. He also played a minor role as the Angel of Death in the comedy film D.C. Cab, and appeared in the Monkees vehicle Head. His final appearance was in the 1986 movie Echo Park. Carey also did a select amount of acting on TV from the 1950s through the 1980s. According to an interesting interview in Film Comment, Carey managed to alienate some of the Hollywood establishment (in perhaps one of the most [literally] obnoxious ways possible). He either turned down or, despite Francis Coppola's interest, alienated the casting director with his wildness and in doing so, did not appear in the part of Luca Brazzi in The Godfather,and another role in Godfather 2, as well as The Conversation. He auditioned for Reservoir Dogs but claims he was blackballed by Harvey Keitel (Carey was a friend of Lawrence Tierney who also entered the pantheon of characters re/discovered by Quentin Tarantino. Carey and Tierney, along with Godard and others, are credited by Tarantino for his inspiration in "Dogs" script.) Like Coppola, Martin Scorsese was no big fan when they first met either, although he later bankrolled Carey's play "The Insect Trainer" (about a guy on trial for murder when a woman he "breaks wind" near dies as a result.)

Carey died from a stroke in 1994.

World's Greatest Sinner is a fascinating, perverse, and bizarre and truly independent/ underground film from the early 60s. In its theme of religious/political/love cults, it appears to delve into territory mined in that era by Robert Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. But Carey's "God" Hilliard is a strictly original character, brought to life by his crazy-brilliant-quirky performance. No wonder, after being paid off and then fired from a supporting role, the director told Carey that he had already stolen every scene he had been in.

Official Carey site (link here)

For an overview and to obtain other classics from the Timothy Carey oeuvre,including Godfather screen tests, and other fascinating film work and nuggets, check this link.

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