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The World’s Greatest Sinner(1962)

One of the screen’s most eccentric, impassioned actors, Timothy Carey, produced this strange, underground classic with a little help from a young Frank Zappa, who wrote the score. After years of small but noticeable parts in films like The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), Carey decided to put his own vision of life on screen by producing, writing, directing, distributing and starring in this social satire about a failed salesman who becomes a culture hero when he changes his name to God, learns to play rockabilly music and dons a fake goatee. He becomes so famous that he decides to mount an independent campaign for the presidency, just when fame makes him increasingly corrupt. Carey shot the film over the course of four years, eventually renting a theater in 1962 for its premiere. He continued adding to the film for the rest of his life (he died in 1994), though the picture’s best-known version is the cut he finished in 1965. Although the film barely had a theatrical release, it attracted a devoted cult following, including Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes, who compared Carey to Sergei Eisenstein. (d. Timothy Carey, 82m, Digital)

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