Q&A with Timothy’s son Romeo Carey and The Timothy Carey Experience blogger Marisa Young following the film.
The World's Greatest Sinner is a 1962 mega-underground film written, directed and starring the cult legend Timothy Carey. The self-financed film tells the story of an average man, Clarence Hilliard, who quits his day job as an insurance salesman and forms a rock band. Finding that he can whip crowds into a frenzy with his wildly unhinged rockabilly performances, Clarence takes advantage of the attention by turning his fan base into a political party and eventually a religious cult based on the premise that every man is a god. Ironically, Clarence finances the cult by seducing elderly widows out of their life savings . The more powerful Clarence becomes, the more ego-maniacal and detached from reality he grows, eventually insisting upon being called God with a capital "G" and having his followers worship him as such. Soon he personally challenges the God of the Bible to prove that Clarence himself is not the true Almighty. God obliges him.
The World's Greatest Sinner has never had an official release, though it has aired on the Turner Classic Movies basic cable channel. Martin Scorsese is one of the film's supporters, and has selected it in the past as one of his favorite rock and roll films of all time. The film features a score composed by a young pre-Mothers of Invention Frank Zappa. This film established Carey as an important figure in independent film.
The night ALSO includes two shorts:
Making Sinner is Romeo Carey's work-in-progress documentary on the tumultuous four-year-long filming of The World's Greatest Sinner, featuring interviews with the likes of cult director Ray Dennis Steckler, who photographed much of the film.
Cinema Justice is the infamous 7-minute outtake from Steve DeJarnatt's unreleased short film, Tarzana (1978). Carey had not received firm direction from DeJarnatt for this particular scene, and as a result he went completely off the rails, confounding the director, the crew, and his co-star Michael C. Gwynne. Said Gwynne, "It was like visiting Niagara Falls."