Anniversary Post: Roger Corman

Roger Corman

Roger Corman is 94 years old today. How can we not talk about him?

I have mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, as I wrote just the other day, “Regardless of the film, he tends to do a better job than other low-budget directors.” On the other hand, he is a low-budget producer and thus almost guaranteed to be a dick.

Let me tell you one story. When they were looking for funding for their Corman/Poe homage, Elvira’s Haunted Hills, Mark Pierson and Cassandra Peterson met with Corman. He really liked the project and offered himself a 30 percent stake in the film.

That’s right: if they paid him 30 percent of the profits, they could put his name on it. Otherwise, nothing. This goes along with all the “Roger Corman” releases that have little if anything to do with him.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand that we live under capitalism and this is the way things are. And if he hadn’t been this way he wouldn’t have been successful. Just the same, I prefer how Russ Meyer was a money-grubbing bastard only about his own films.

But Corman is impressive. Regardless of how ridiculous his films sound, he always makes them work. And his best work is great. Like most people, I love his Poe cycle.

Corman hasn’t directed that many films though. It was his association with American International Pictures that allowed him to stretch his wings in this regard. He would always be a producer at heart. And more recently, it’s all been providing money (or not) and getting his name on pictures.

But from his earliest films, like The Fast and the Furious, he helped create a lot of quality material for the low-budget market.

Also on 5 April

Foxy Brown was released on this day in 1974.

Actor Walter Huston (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) was born in 1883, Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock) in 1900, Melvyn Douglas (Ghost Story) in 1901, Bette Davis (All About Eve) in 1908, Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird) in 1916, Michael V Gazzo (The Godfather Part II) in 1923, Nigel Hawthorne (Demolition Man) in 1929, and Frank Gorshin (Batman) in 1933.

Michael Moriarty (Pale Rider) is 79, Max Gail (Barney Miller) is 77, and Jane Asher (The Masque of the Red Death) is 74.

Producer Albert R Broccoli (Dr No) was born in 1909 and director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) is 78.

Image cropped from Roger Corman 2013 by OIFF, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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