If you are in any way interested in the history of Hollywood and love the lore of Tinsel Town, then this comprehensive bio-documentary of Roger Corman will both fascinate and entertain. Corman was the king of the B movie, and even those who don’t embrace the whole B movie genre will find this enthralling.
Unusually for a bio-pic Corman is still very much alive and kicking, he is now in his 80’s and along with Julie Corman, his wife and career long production partner, ranks high on the list of the most prolific movie makers in the world. They have produced and then released as many as 9 features in a single year, and only the vast minority have failed to turn a profit in box office receipts.
During his career spanning 6 decades, Corman has played a major part in shaping the contemporary movie industry that we know today. He has a resume of hundreds of movie titles, including many do it yourself, low budget, one shot is all you have exploitation and schlock horrors which kick started his career as an independent movie maker.
These early movies, may they be questionable, or unquestionably bad, have a very loyal fan base, and this assured the success of Corman in the movie business. He started working for AIP, American International Pictures, in the 50’s and stayed with them for over 12 years. He had no training as a movie maker and jumped into the job, figuring it out as he went along and setting his own style of style and pace for production.
In the 60’s he started making more serious movies that had bigger budgets and he received mass critical acclaim for his adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s work. ‘The Intruder’ in 1962 broached the serious subject of race relations in the south of the US. Although it was his first cinematic flop, he won a prize for the movie at the Venice Film Festival.
This movie chronicles the career of Corman chronologically, and the legacy he left as the King of Movie schlock. This is demonstrated clearly when you see the impressive roster of actors and movie makers who got their first starts in the industry in Corman’s projects. This list includes the like of Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Ron Howard and many other illustrious names.
Many of these pay tribute to Corman in camera interviews, and this documentary can definitely be called star studded. Whilst speaking about the debt he owes to Corman, Jack Nicholson becomes uncharacteristically emotional and is practically shedding tears of gratitude.
Corman is also responsible for introducing to the world the work of many fine directors that are now household names. When he left AIP to form New World Pictures, he imported and distributed the films of Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Federico Fellini and showcased their work to American audiences, along with many other international art house directors.
This documentary is rich in on camera testimonials and archive footage and is an engrossing insight into the movie world. Whether you are fan or not, this effective tribute to Roger Corman is an engrossing piece of cinema that is well worth seeing.