Title: Corman’s World
Director: Alex Stapleton
For anyone who doesn’t know who Roger Corman is, he’s probably the most influential and prolific American filmmaker still working today. Not solely for the movies he’s made but the filmmakers that “graduated” from his “school” of filmmaking. Roger Corman, himself, has directed over 56 movies and produced over 395 movies. Wow! Titles that range from “Sharktopus” and “The Beast with a Million Eyes,” to “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” and “Death Race 2000,” he was dubbed “The King of Schlock” and “The Master of B-Movies”. This documentary, “Corman’s World,” looks at his entire career and his influence on filmmakers and the industry, all the way up to him receiving an honorary Oscar in 2009.
It goes film to film, looking at what he was trying to do as a director and why he wanted to become a filmmaker. It’s in the same vein as other documentaries that examined cinema and genres like “The Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession” and “American Grindhouse” or “Not Quite Hollywood,” it spans Corman’s career as a B-movie mogul. Not limited to the movies he has made and why he became popular or the audiences that found his work, but it’s simply impressive to see what other filmmakers came out of his “school” of filmmaking.
Roger Corman owned various production and distribution companies, his movies never went over-budget and always made money. If you were a young filmmaker, then Corman would give you a shot to direct. Filmmakers like Ron Howard, Joe Dante, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese all got their start with Roger Corman. The disciple of tight filmmaking and never going over-budget trickled down to their way of making movies. He was responsible for the New Hollywood style of filmmaking during the late 1960s and 70s. Irreverent movies that went against the status quo with deep characters and sophisticated story lines like in “Five Easy Piece” and “The Last Picture Show”. He gave young actors like Jack Nicholson and Peter Honda a chance early in their careers, which paved the way for the seminal film, “Easy Rider”.
This documentary is a touching look at a filmmaker who didn’t reach conventional success, but rather influence and nurture success in others. Everyone involved in the interviewing seems to have a reverence for Roger Corman and pretty much all of them are indebted to him because of their success. This film is for anyone who is interesting in Hollywood history, filmmaking and schlock. Roger Corman paved the way for exploitation and gore and doesn’t apologize for it. It’s a valuable look back in history and a filmmaker’s work. This one is worth watching and is one of the best documentaries showcased at the film festival.
“Corman’s World” will be screening as part of the 49th New York Film Festival on Oct. 16th.