Roger Corman (1926-2024)

Last week, on May 9, the legendary Hollywood producer and filmmaker Roger Corman passed away at the age of 98. Corman directed over 50 films and produced many more, which made him a pioneer in the exploitation genres earning him nicknames such as “The King of the B-movie”, “The Pope of Pop Cinema” and “The King of Cult.” He was very proficient in quick, inexpensive productions, turning out several movies as director and/or producer a year. In the early 1960s, he began to take on more ambitious projects, gaining more critical praise (and commercial success) from a series of adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, such as Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and The Raven (1963).

Corman also played an important role in fostering those trying to make their first steps in Tinseltown. Among those he mentored are Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Robert De Niro, Monte Hellman and Peter Bogdanovich. Scorsese, who directed the Corman-produced film Boxcar Bertha (1972), remembers Corman with great admiration, proudly considering himself a graduate of the “School of Corman.” According to Scorsese in his DVD commentary for Mean Streets, Corman’s method demonstrated the discipline required to make a film and taught how to achieve maximum impact with a minimum budget. “You can design your shots, rehearse your actors, get it on film. You have locomotives? That’s your problem. Do the hardest shots first. You know, learn how to make a picture.” Making a film with Roger Corman was essentially “the best post-graduate training you could get in America at that time.”

In addition to producing low-budget exploitation films, Corman also founded New World Pictures, which became the American distributor for the films of Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, François Truffaut, and others.

Image: Roger Corman, le pape du pop cinéma (Bertrand Tessier, 2021)

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