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Roger Corman (1926 - )

Lifespan: 1926 -

Related: Roger Corman filmography - Roger Corman books - American cinema - AIP - New World Pictures - B-movies - director

"I don't want anybody to use the words 'good taste' around here." --Roger Corman

In a way, Roger Corman was to American cinema what Jess Franco was to European cinema. [Dec 2005]

There was a time in the early nineties - after I'd gotten hold of the film encyclopedia Cult Movie Stars by Danny Peary - when I visited nearly every video rental store in Antwerp to search for Roger Corman tapes. I managed to see about 20 Corman related films in that period of which The Intruder starring William Shatner I still find the most rewarding.

David Carradine once said,"It's almost as though you can't have a career in this business without having passed through Roger Corman's hands for at least a moment."

Films as director: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) - The Intruder (1962) - X - The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) - Masque of the Red Death (1964) - The Wild Angels (1966)

Films as distributor: Fantastic Planet (1973)

Alumni: Peter Bogdanovich - James Cameron - Francis Ford Coppola - Joe Dante - Jonathan Demme - Jack Nicholson - John Sayles - Martin Scorsese

Roger Corman (2004) - Beverly Gray [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Unidentified photo of Roger Corman

Film poster for The Trip (1967)

see also: 1967 - drugs in film - LSD - Roger Corman

Beverly Garland in It Conquered the World (1956) - Roger Corman

Biography

Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926) is a producer and director of low-budget films; as such, he has apprenticed many now-famous directors, stressing the importance of budgeting and resourcefulness. Corman is probably best known for his filmings of various Edgar Allan Poe stories, including The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Masque of the Red Death. He has produced over 300 movies and directed over 50.

Corman was born in Detroit, Michigan and received an industrial engineering degree from Stanford University. He began his career in 1953 as a producer and screenwriter, and began directing in 1955. Until his so-called "retirement" in 1971 (he continued to produce films even after this date) he would produce up to 7 movies a year, his fastest film was perhaps The Little Shop of Horrors which was shot in 2 days and 1 night.

A number of noted film directors have worked with Corman, including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, James Cameron, and John Sayles. One actor who started his career working for Corman is Jack Nicholson. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Corman [Dec 2004]

Dozens of enormously entertaining cult films

Apart from making dozens of enormously entertaining cult films (there are amazingly few duds in his output), Roger Corman's (1926 - ) place in film history is assured simply through his unrivalled eye for talent - among many world-class names who were employed by him at a very early stage in their careers are Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante and many others - which means that his influence on modern American cinema is almost incalculable. --Michael Brooke via imdb.com [May 2004]

Role model for todayís independent filmmaker

Corman has become the role model for todayís independent filmmaker, laying the groundwork for the success of directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. This guru with a vision has also demonstrated an uncanny eye for talent, being among the first to recognize and employ the abilities of Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese,, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Ron Howard, John Sayles, and James Cameron, to name but a few.--Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers (2004), Beverly Gray

Nudity, violence and kitschy humor

(b. 1926) Prolific filmmaker whom the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan dubbed "the Orson Welles of Z Pictures." Corman's four-decade oeuvre of over 200 low-budget movies found a loyal audience receptive to its patented blend of nudity, violence and kitschy humor; the director virtually defined trash cinema, establishing sub-genres like women-in-prison films, stewardess/nurse softcore sex romps, and hard-core action, gore, sci-fi and horror fare. Key Corman titles include Fall of the House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and The Wild Angels (1966).
Corman is responsible for providing the first break for a number of notable Hollywood talents: directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, and Ron Howard got their start on Corman's sets, as did actors like Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, and Sylvester Stallone. (Howard repaid the favor by casting notorious tightwad Corman as the cheapskate congressman in Apollo 13.) Corman's distribution company handled the work of prestigious foreign directors like Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, and Francois Truffaut.
In 1970, Corman retired from directing to run his New World Pictures production company; he re-emerged in 1989 to helm the $9 million-budgeted Frankenstein Unbound for 20th Century Fox. In 1995 cable channel Showtime aired the "Roger Corman Presents" series, 13 remakes of Corman "classics" like Not of This Earth and The Wasp Woman. Corman's 1990 autobiography was titled How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.

Roger Corman on the auteur theory

But my earlier theories of the director as auteur are undergoing some revision [laughs] and Iím beginning to think the producer is more important than the director. --Roger Corman in http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/27/cormaninterview1.html

Charles B. Griffith interview

Writer and director Charles B. Griffith has been responsible for the recognized best of the Roger Corman productions, including Not of this Earth (1957), A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and Death Race 2000 (1975). His screenplays are chock full of the savage wit and splendid black comedy that became Griffith's specialty. The fact he was able to create these structured works in a matter of days, which he attributes to growing up in a family involved with the fast-paced world of radio, is simply amazing.

Usually overshadowed by Corman (who originally thought A Bucket of Blood would be a serious thriller), Griffith's importance in these low-budget productions must not be downplayed. Actor and friend Mel Welles has said of his role in The Little Shop of Horrors: “Absolutely none of it was ad-libbed … every word in it was written by Griffith, and I did 98 pages of dialogue in two days!”

My interview with Griffith was conducted in August 2004 via telephone. Griffith was affable, engaging and always entertaining. We covered almost all of the Roger Corman pictures in which he was writer, his films as director and other assignments. -- Aaron W. Graham via http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/35/charles_b_griffith.html [Jun 2005]

see also: Roger Corman - script

Links

  • http://www.salon.com/people/bc/2000/06/13/corman/ The King of B movies became an industry giant by keeping budgets lean, and his films rich with breasts, bikers and blood.
  • http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue09/features/rogercorman/ Roger Corman is easily one of the most prolific auteurs in the history of the film industry. Corman has produced or directed nearly 300 films to date.

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