Thursday, July 14, 2005
After the presentation on The Last Woman on Earth, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to learn more about the director. My apologies to Jacqui if I am repeating her research.
Roger Corman, king of B movies, is admired and respected by people in the movie industry because of his vast body of work. He is credited for giving big name directors their start. Directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Jonathan Demme, received on-the-job-training from Corman. These film directing icons were greatly influenced by Corman. A 1994 Rolling Stone interview reflects some of the influence Corman had on Jonathan Demme:
Rolling Stone: You started out making films with Roger Corman. What are some of the things you learned from him?
Demme: Roger used to refer to himself - and we heard this endlessly - as being 40 percent artist and 60 percent businessman. That was soooo Roger - to have a formula, even for that. But I'll be damned, 20-some-odd years later, boy, he's right. You'd better be 60 percent businessmen, because if you don't have an eye, a passionate eye, on getting the picture done at the right cost, you just ain't going to get to make a whole lot more of them. So, the terror of going over budget remains happily with me to this day. It's a healthy aesthetic.
Rolling Stone:Corman also stressed that movies should contain an element of social critique, something that's obviously stayed with you. Even in a jail-girl titillation like Caged Heat, you had a plot about the medical exploitation of prisoners.
Demme:This is before Cuckoo's Nest came out. I thought [laughs], "It may only be showing in drive-ins, but it shows what's going on in prisons: We are lobotomizing patients to make them non-violent." It's true, that's Roger's formula: Your picture must have action, nudity, humor - and a little bit of social statement, preferably from a liberal perspective. I'd love to get in deeper with Roger, as to "Is the social statement there because audiences like it? Or, finally, is that a little bit of you getting in there?" [Laughs.]
Corman's films often featured unknown actors that would go on to make big names for themselves. His movie The Intruder featured a young Bill Shatner long before he was Captain James T. Kirk. What was Robert Vaughn doing before his role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Starring in Teenage Caveman for Corman. After doing the film, The Day the World Ended, a young Touch Connors would change his name to Mike Connors and become private detective Joe Mannix. Years before he would become simply known as Jack, a fresh-faced Jack Nicholson played Wilbur Force in Corman's Little Shop of Horrors. It is easy to see why Corman is considered a great influence on the world of entertainment.
Many of the actors and directors influenced by Corman's work felt they learned a lot from him but Corman himself wasn't quite as sure: "I wonder if it's because they learned a lot by working with me or they figured that if I could do it anyone could?"*
The entertainment value of Corman's work is immeasureable. Just the taglines for his movies are entertaining:
"The screen's new high in NAKED SHRIEKING TERROR!"*
"A beautiful woman by day - a lusting queen wasp by night."*
"Some Have to Dance... Some Have to Kill!"*
"Naked violence... with a gun or a knife she was a match for any man!"*
In a 1999 interview for the Onion A. V. Club, Corman stated his favorite tagline came from his movie, Bloody Mama; "The family that slays together, stays together." Now, doesn't that pull on your heart strings?
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