Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Roger Corman!

Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926) is an American film producer and director. Sometimes nicknamed "King of the B-movies" for his output of B-movies (though he himself rejects this as inaccurate), Corman has mostly worked on low-budget films. Some of his work has an established critical reputation, such as his cycle of films derived from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, and he has also won an Academy Award for his work. Corman is also an occasional actor, taking minor roles in such films as The Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather Part II, Apollo 13 and Philadelphia.

Corman has served as a mentor to many famous directors early in their careers, stressing the importance of budgeting and resourcefulness; Corman once joked he could make a film about the fall of the Roman Empire with two extras and a sagebrush.

Early life

Corman was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Anne and William Corman, an engineer. His brother Gene Corman has also produced numerous films, sometimes in collaboration with Roger. Roger Corman received an industrial engineering degree from Stanford University, beginning his film career in 1953 as a producer and screenwriter. Corman started directing films in 1955.


In Corman's most active period, he would produce up to seven movies a year. His fastest film was perhaps The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which was reputedly shot in two days and one night. Supposedly, he had made a bet that he could shoot an entire feature film in less than three days. Another version of the story claims that he had a set rented for a month, and finished using it with three days to spare, thus pushing him to use the set to make a new film (These claims are disputed by others who worked on the film, who have called it part of Corman's own myth-building). Although highly cost-effective, Corman's parsimonious approach to filmmaking was not without its critics; Charles B. Griffith, who wrote the original screenplay for Little Shop, later remarked that "[Corman] uses half his genius to degrade his own work, and the rest to degrade the artists who work for him."

Corman is probably best known for his filmings of various Edgar Allan Poe stories at American International Pictures, mostly in collaboration with writer/scenarist Richard Matheson, including House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). All but The Premature Burial starred Vincent Price. After the film version of The Raven was completed, he reportedly realized he still had some shooting days left before the sets were torn down and so made another film; The Terror (1963) on the spot with the remaining cast, crew and sets.

How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A DimeRoger Corman: Metaphysics on a ShoestringRoger Corman (Pocket Essential series)Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World PicturesHow I made a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime / Roger Corman with Jim JeromeThe Pit and the PendulumThe Fall of the House of Usher /The Pit and the PendulumThe Haunted Palace / The Tower of LondonThe Tomb of Ligeia / An Evening of Edgar Allan PoeVisions of Death: Richard Matheson's Edgar Allan Poe Scripts (House of Usher & Pit and the Pendulum)The Comedy of Terrors/The RavenThe Masque of the Red Death / The Premature BurialBurning Down the House: The Poe Films of Roger Corman. David del Valle and Sam UmlandTales of Terror (Edgar Allan Poe's)Tales of Terror/Twice Told Tales (Midnite Movies Double Feature)The Fall of the House of Usher

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