FilmFax article (not published) by Harvey Chartrand 2003


George Francis Carey - Timothy Carey's younger brother
Interview by Harvey Chartrand 2003

How did you become involved in the filming of The World's Greatest Sinner?

I was involved in TWGS in the summer and fall of 1961. I was interested in film work then. I had gone to NYU graduate school in communications. Timmy was doing that film and I decided to leave New York for Los Angeles and see how things were in the film business. So off I went to California to work on The World's Greatest Sinner. Timmy was running the whole show and I helped out wherever I could. They had me down as a production assistant. (George Carey is listed as a producer in the film's ingenious end credits.) I had a couple of little parts in the film. I played a campaign aid and a reporter who asks Timmy a question at a press conference.

Can you give me an example of your brother's directing style?

Timmy could be a very dominant personality. He always wanted his own way. He took charge, told the actor how he wanted the role to be played. I would say Timmy was a very strong type of director, fitting his personality. But he seemed to have a good relationship with the people who were acting for him and they seemed to be very happy to be doing the acting. Timmy was definitely very charismatic. He was unique.

Not everybody liked his style. Timmy did a remarkable job with his career, considering. He was very independent, but I don't think you can be too independent out there, if you want to keep
working. Then he ran into other dominant personalities, directors who didn't like his individual style. He had a number of people who liked his style very much. But there were some who didn't care much for it. Some of the more established stars didn't like Timmy's improvisational approach to scripted scenes. When Timmy was on film, you always knew it. And I don't know if that was always appreciated. But there were a number of people in the business who seemed to like him and appreciated his unique flair. Other people found it a little irritating.

Why did Timothy Carey want to make TWGS so badly?

Timmy always seemed to have a project going, but I guess that's par for the course with creative personalities. I don't recall the origins of TWGS. He wanted to combine religion and politics in a film and do something a little different about a self-made type of person who becomes a big celebrity. He had a production book. I wonder if it's still around. It explains the plot in quite a lot of detail.

TWGS was 20 years ahead of its time. The religious aspect upset the studio heads. People who could have advanced the film were anxious, because they thought the public would condemn it as blasphemous, although I don't think TWGS is irreligious, compared to films today. The character of Clarence Hilliard is redeemed in the end. And Timmy had such a shoestring budget to work with… that didn't help.

Most of the film was shot in El Monte, California, where Timmy lived. One very amusing scene had Timmy standing on a pile of fertilizer as he was campaigning. He had a big guitar in his hand and he was running for office, talking to the crowds, making a political speech. And the camera pans down and we see that Timmy is standing on a great big pile of cow manure. (laughs) I thought that was a funny touch. That was very good!

I remember that day. Timmy was positioning all the people. They were just local people who were acting in the scene. Timmy had a few professional actors working on the picture with him, like the guy who played his campaign manager (James Farley) and Gil Barreto (who played Clarence's disciple). I don't think anybody other than Timmy had any significant credits, though. TWGS was all improvised. I don't remember Timmy ever working from a script.

I went to a few screenings of TWGS. I saw the film in Manhattan. Timmy brought it to New York and showed it in several screening rooms, trying to get some film companies interested. But they were all turned off and scared by the religious aspect. But TWGS does conclude with a miracle, a church scene where Clarence Hilliard begs forgiveness. He has remorse for the type of person he was and seeks redemption. The problem was with the blasphemous stuff that came before. Not too many people could handle that. It was too ahead of its time.

One day, Timmy was out in the backyard, brushing his horse, and I got a call from Stanley Kubrick, who was on the set of Spartacus. Timmy says, "You talk to him, George. Tell him
I'll be right there." So I made small talk with Kubrick, figuring that Timmy was on his way from the backyard to take the phone call. I don't know what the call was about, because Timmy wasn't in Spartacus. Well, Timmy never got to the phone. He stayed out there, brushing his horse. I don't know what that was all about. Timmy was a little erratic at times. I think if Timmy hadn't been quite so extreme in some of his efforts to get publicity for himself, he would have been in other Kubrick pictures after Paths of Glory. (Carey was later considered for a small part in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

[Francis Coppola wanted to cast Carey as Luca Brasi in The Godfather but Carey turned the part down so he could film a television pilot - Tweet's Ladies of Pasadena.]

Timmy's big mistake of all time was not taking the part of Luca Brassi in The Godfather. He had the part, no question about it, but then decided he didn't want to get involved. I was taking calls from Paramount and Francis Ford Coppola definitely wanted Timmy in the film as Luca Brasi. Basically, Timmy was replaced (by Lenny Montana, a former wrestler). That part was Timmy's. All he had to say was he wanted it. But - that was Timmy. He passed that up and it was a big mistake. One of Hollywood's top agents (Walter Kohner) personally told me that if Timmy would only cooperate by playing the game, he could be one of the big stars. He told me this personally right in his office. He was Timmy's agent for a while, and it's really remarkable, when you think of it, that Timmy had this guy as his agent. I think Timmy's biggest problem was that he had hostility with certain directors. Maybe they thought his acting methods were too outlandish. Once the cameras were rolling, Timmy might do a scene in a totally different way than it was rehearsed. Sometimes, the directors retaliated by taking his name off the credits. (Ex.: Timothy Carey appears uncredited in Laszlo Benedek's The Wild One.) -END

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