The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962)

The cult of Tim Carey is growing. The religion that has grown around this actor is miraculous. Like all good religious figures, it wasn’t until he passed from this mortal plain that they believers started to believe. Now, just about anyone who witnesses this man’s power is an automatic convert.

Through out the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Carey worked with the greatest of film directors – Kubrick, Kazin, Cassavetes, Wilder. He’s even worked with one of the worst – Bert I. Gordon. He mouthed off to Brando in The Wild One and then he acted for him in One Eyed Jacks. He’s co-stared with the Monkees and acted in the same film as Francis the talking mule. He turned down being in The Godfather and The Conversation. He’s worked with Columbo, Mr. T., and Chesty Anderson USM. Mannix, Rawhide, Airwolf, Baretta, McCloud, CHiPs, Kung Fu, Gunsmoke, Charlie’s Angles, and The Greatest American Hero – he’s played in them all.

Timothy Carey is god’s gift to character acting. His unforgettable face, his fiery performances, his on edge personality just waiting to snap have set the standard by which all other character actors must be judged. But for all his bit parts, that continually steal scenes and outshine star players, nothing can overshadow the one completed film that Timothy Carey made. The World’s Greatest Sinner is Timothy Carey’s true gift to cinema.

Working both behind the camera and in the lead role Timothy Carey delivers a tale of tested faith that John Waters one craziest films he’s ever seen. The World’s Greatest Sinner starts with Clarence Hilliard (Timothy Carey), a feed-up insurance salesman calling it quits. With the help of his gardener friend, Alanzo (Gil Barreto) Clarence sets out to add meaning to other people’s lives. After seeing a rock’n’roll concert Clarence becomes convinced that he must pick up a guitar and preach his new philosophy of every man and woman being their own god or “super human beings” as he loves to profess. Taking to the streets Clarence strums and preaches. Crowds gather and very quickly he’s got a following. That’s when the devil enters the picture. In the form of a large snake, Satan whispers in the ear of Clarence, convinces him to change his name to God, to preach through music, to insight the masses. Finally, when Clarence or God as he know calls himself is able to whip up a maelstrom of existential followers the devil suggest he put down the guitar and aim for high positions of power, like the presidency. Convinced that he truly is a super human being, a god no less, Clarence pushes his family aside. He lets fame go to his head, abusing his power to score supporters – young and old – in the sack. Soon, a crises of faith arises and Clarence demands to know if there is a real god or not. The answer is just as shocking as the entire premise of this truly one-of-a-kind film.

Made with the most extreme personal passion The World’s Greatest Sinner is a those flawed, but precious films. Struggling for years to complete his opus, Timothy Carey is reported to have stolen a flat-bed editor from John Cassavetes just to complete his vision. This sort of dedication but Carey at odds with the Cassavetes camp. Everyone, but John Cassavetes himself refused to speak with Carey. John, on the other hand, loved Carey so much he not only looked the other way, but he professed his love for The World’s Greatest Sinner, and he hired Carey to be in many of his own pictures. A true independent and a certifiable nut, Carey’s film is actually a rather religious experience that makes instant converts of those who see it. At the same time that it brings new members to the Cult of Timothy Carey, the film’s story does an interesting job of examining nature of faith. It’s a message that can get easily lost inside the insanity of the film.

The World’s Greatest Sinner
stands as a true cult classic that deserves a larger audience. Today, Timothy Carey’s son, Romeo, is out their spreading his father’s gospel. If you want to be witness to this religious experience you can find out more about Timothy Carey, The World’s Greatest Sinner, and other projects he did by going to While there buy a few copies of the film, give them to friends, give them to strangers, or leave them in bus stations – spread the good word!


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