The World's Greatest Sinner

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The World's Greatest Sinner
Directed by Timothy Carey
Produced by Timothy Carey
Written by Timothy Carey
Starring Timothy Carey
Gil Barretto
Betty Rowland
Edna Hilliard
James Farley
Titus Moede
Release date
Country United States
Language English

The World's Greatest Sinner is a 1962 film written, directed, and produced by, and starring Timothy Carey.[1][2]

The self-financed film tells the story of a frustrated insurance salesman, Clarence Hilliard (played by Carey), who quits his job because he finds it meaningless. After witnessing an ecstatic crowd at a rock concert, Hilliard forms a band. Finding that he can whip crowds into a frenzy with his wildly unhinged rockabilly performances, Hilliard proceeds to churn his fan base into a political party, and eventually into a religious cult based on Hilliard's assertion that every man is a god. Clarence finances the cult by seducing elderly widows out of their life savings (the film features sequences of Clarence making love to elderly women, as well as a 14-year-old girl). The more powerful Hilliard becomes, the more egomaniacal and detached from reality he grows, eventually insisting upon being called God with a capital "G" (literally-- "God Hilliard"). His followers worship him. Eventually he challenges the God of the Bible to prove that Hilliard himself is not the true Almighty. God obliges him.

The film is narrated by noted voice actor Paul Frees.

The World's Greatest Sinner never had an official release, though it aired on the Turner Classic Movies cable network. Director Martin Scorsese is one of the film's supporters, having named it as one of his favorite rock and roll films. Musician Will Oldham has also championed the film, and selected it when invited to present a favorite film at the 2001 Maryland Film Festival.

The film features a score composed by a young, pre-Mothers of Invention Frank Zappa. During a 1963 appearance on the Steve Allen TV show during which he generated musical sounds on bicycles, Zappa talked about scoring the soundtrack for The World's Greatest Sinner, which he called "the world's worst movie," even though the general public wouldn't have the opportunity to see the film he was talking about for another 50 years.[3] During the course of this same interview with Steve Allen, Zappa discusses how he recorded the soundtrack for this movie in the Little Theatre, located at Chaffey College in Alta Loma, California, along with the plethora of instruments used.


  1. ^ "The World's Greatest Sinner". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  2. ^ Stafford, Jeff (September 20, 2008). "God Hilliard For President!". 
  3. ^ Frank Zappa on The Steve Allen Show March 4, 1963. YouTube. March 4, 1963. 

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