Releasing today on DVD and Blu-ray is the biographical documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, highlighting the life and career of independent film legend Roger Corman. The incredible producer and director has had his hand in more than 400 movies ranging from such films as The Wild Angels, Boxcar Bertha, and to more recent titles Dinoshark and Sharktopus. Additionally, the directors that worked with him read like a who’s who of Hollywood, from Martin Scorsese, to Francis Ford Coppola, and James Cameron.
Corman began his work at 20th Century Fox as a script reader and general consultant. When his work on The Gunfighter was used and uncredited, he became soured with the studio model and decided to strike out on his own. Here, he began producing and directing independent pictures, beginning with Monster From the Ocean Floor in 1954. During his most productive years, he made as many as 9 films a year. In the 60s, he began working on a series of film adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories for American International Pictures, earning praise from fans and critics alike that refer to this time as his “golden years.”
It can be argued that without Roger Corman paving the way, films like Jaws and Star Wars would have never happened, at least not on the grand scale that they did. They were B-movies with big budgets, capitalizing on a formula that Corman had spent a better part of his life perfecting. Although he had many opportunities to go bigger, he refused to take millions to make a movie, because he claims “it is wrong to spend that much money. In addition, I think there are better things to do with the money in our society. For 30 or 40 million dollars, you could rebuild a portion of the slums of a city.”
It’s hard to imagine how much love and respect he commands in the business until you see stars such as Jack Nicholson brought to tears expressing how grateful and appreciative they are of his work and generosity in the business. There is literally no one in the business worth their salt that has a bad word to say about him, and I believe that says more than any of his work. In 2010, Corman was finally recognized by the Academy for his body of work and contributions to the film business in general, earning an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.
If you’re a fan of cinema or an aspiring film buff, you owe it to yourself and to the business to check out this glowing portrait of a man absolutely vital to the lifeblood of independent cinema. Considering how many films he’s touched, it’s hard to imagine someone hasn’t watched a Corman picture, unaware or not. Here is a man who always stuck to his ideals, and never sold out for monetary gain or fame. Love or hate his movies, there’s no way to not respect his vision. As a big fan of B-movie schlock from all eras, I simply say, thank you.