Sunday, May 12, 2024

Roger Corman Merges With The Infinite

I'm going to say something, and y'all stick with me:  Roger Corman is the most important person in the history of American film, which may make him the most important on the planet.  

Sure, some French guys made up the first camera and projector (or Edison had his own thing).  And we can all agree that this actor or that is great.  And we can name early film directors or great directors.  Or even studio heads or producers.  

But for *most* of the existence of cinema, we've had Roger Corman.  

Corman was producing movies by the mid-1950's, and as the decade ended, got into distribution, too.  He's behind innumerable actually pretty good movies, and a vast sea of very cheap, very bad movies.  Often genre pictures or near-exploitation pictures.  He worked on films with luminaries like Vincent Price on movies based on Edgar Allen Poe and he hired Martin Scorsese for his first work on Unholy Rollers, a roller derby movie.  

He made super cheap, trashy films, and he produced some slightly less cheap and slightly less trashy films.  Fun fact - through his New World Pictures, he acquired Marvel Comics in 1986.  Yeah, I know!  F'ing crazy.  Battle Beyond the Stars?  he made that.  He distributed Fitzcarraldo.  I mean, he's done kind of everything.

Corman famously knew how to be frugal, how to make things work, how to get the most bang for your buck, and - most impressively - how to raise money.  Year over year, for hundreds of pictures.

And that dude gave untold thousands of people a shot in one capacity or another, from those first or early starts (Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson) to giving people a second wind in their career.  Heck, he let actor John Ireland direct for the first time on his second movie, ever.  And I'm not even going to bother with all the names he worked with, because there's going to be a pile of articles that do it for me. 

The key thing is - he gave people chances.  Good people.  Not everyone made it, but he gave them work and taught them you don't need $250 million to do a picture.  And some went on with those lessons, and some maybe circled the drain in Hollywood.  But someone had to be a grip on Supergator or whatever.  

So, yeah, it's more of a ripple-effect I'm thinking of when I say "most important".  But I find the guy hugely inspirational.

Corman passed on the 9th of May, 2024.  He has 491 movies listed under his IMDB producer credit, with two on the way.  He was 98.

So, with your passing, Mr. Corman, we salute you.  A scan of your filmography reminds us we watched many, many of your movies and are weirder for it.

1 comment:

JAL said...

Well said and that this guy just seemed kinda nice and normal is the real icing on the cake.