The Wilder One

It's tough to forget goonish, heavy-lidded character actor Timothy Carey once you've seen him. He tosses beer in Marlon Brando's face in The Wild One. He shoots a racehorse in Kubrick's The Killing. His character in Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie says "Money is Jesus." Cassavetes compared him to Einstein or Eisenstein, maybe both. His specialties are, to quote an admirer, sadistic criminals, drooling lechers, and psycho killers. Online tributes to Carey gush with legends, including the claim that he caused a full-blown riot at the world premiere of the only film he ever directed, The World's Greatest Sinner, when he fired a gun into the roof of a jam-packed L.A. theatre.

Here's a rare chance to judge for yourself the arguable brilliance of this 1962 work, Carey's truly independent labor of love, not available on DVD. It screens twice tonight courtesy of Film on Film Foundation, whose mission is to show films of auteurial vision in their chosen medium (i.e., not video). Clarence Hilliard (Carey) wants eternal life right here on earth -- but how to attain it? His Latina guitar teacher drapes a snake around his neck, which apparently shows him the way. Thus begins the rise and fall of "God" Hilliard, who would scandalize Ted Haggard with his dogma of the super human being through sex, rock 'n' roll and absolute power. Scored by a 21-year-old Frank Zappa.
Sat., Dec. 15, 7 & 9:15 p.m., 2007

 
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