are you there, god? it's me, timothy carey

Tim Carey rocked for your sins.

The World's Greatest Sinner (1962): A recent piece of high weirdness from TCM Underground, TWGS was written and directed by character heavy Timothy Carey, who appeared as a machine gunning hep cat in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956), a condemned French grunt in Paths of Glory (1956), a standby in the Cassavetes' films The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), and uber-creepy bad guy "Lord High n' Low" in the excellent Monkees' vehicle, Head (1968).

Carey steers the arc of his first (and I think only) film on a simple, upward slope, starring as Clarence Hilliard, a mid-level insurance exec who shrugs off his workaday life, puts on a fake goatee, and becomes a sort of Nietzschian presidential aspirant and rockabilly singer (the main plank of his campaign has something to do with uncovering the secret of eternal life, though the only detail Carey lets slip touches on universal healthcare, so maybe Ronald Reagan was right after all). Along the way, Clarence/Carey rejects the existence of God, breaks his wife's heart by sleeping with a lot of big-hipped, sweater-wearing rock n' roll/presidential groupies, and slaps his daughter around while someone (presumably Old Scratch) occasionally narrates a voiceover celebrating Carey's meglomania and rockin' groove. The World's Greatest Sinner isn't a great film, or even a competent one by any stretch of the imagination, and I could never figure out what it was Carey was trying to say. However, he's so drunk on the creative process, and the movie is (or was) obviously so dear to him that it manages to teeter around on its own knobby legs, albeit in a I-got-home-from-the-bar-very-late-and-this-was-on-television-and-could-not-stop-watching-for-a-minute kind of way.

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