Review: Corman's World (15) / Director: Alex Stapleton / Screenplay: Alex Stapleton, Gregory Locklear / Featuring: Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Eli Roth, Ron Howard, William Shatner, Traci Lords / Release date: March 26th
Whether you are a fan of Roger Corman’s work or not this is an engaging, fascinating and inspiring look at a prolific director and his legacy. Truly, a filmmaker ahead of his time whose focus was on producing and directing films for a specific audience. He launched such talents as Joe Dante, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorcese and Ron Howard whilst reeling out a slew of b-movies. The film features interviews with many of those who were schooled by Corman, including intimate, poignant moments that portray the great fondness modern Hollywood has for him and the great debt it owes him. Famous for his low budget flicks that are full of absurd moments of gore, humour, and whatever was available for shooting on the day. It charts Corman’s career from the start to the present day where he is still heavily involved and passionate about film; his thirst for filmmaking, although making hundreds of films, is still not quenched.
Jack Nicholson is candid about their relationship and tells stories of his experiences working with Corman doling out some great quotes “by mistake he actually made a good film once in a while” and explaining the haphazardness of The Terror “to this day no one knows the plot of it”. He provides an especially emotional moment of the film that shows the deep respect he has for the director. In fact, everyone who is interviewed has some sort of amusing tale to tell about their experience on the set of a Corman production. Pam Grier, who featured in many of his films puts this down to the fact that “he could persuade you to buy sand in a desert” , and would always challenge her by giving her increasingly extreme stunts to do.
Eli Roth explains the success behind Corman’s body of work in that he allowed an audience to feel like “you’re not stupid for loving Piranha and it’s ok to have fun at the movies”. For the most part Corman’s films did exactly this, but an explanation behind the making of a film called The Intruder (featuring William Shatner in one of his earliest roles) that highlighted the issues of segregation and integration shows that Corman’s political views were important in his work also. Considering these issues were at boiling point and Corman was making this film at the height of the racial riots shows his determination to make a political stand as impressively courageous. His simple reasoning behind it highlights a level of integrity “Somebody had to say STOP; this is not the American Way!”
There are great moments of pivotal film history, the dawning of the genre blockbuster in Jaws and Star Wars, that although great for the audience marked a negative impact on Corman’s filmmaking. His low budget genre flicks could not compete with the multi-million dollar efforts of Hollywood. Where most people would simply give up, Corman changed his strategy with a new company that championed foreign filmmakers such as Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni. This new company also allowed Corman even more freedom in his exploitation productions and a chance to harness new talent such as Robert De Niro and Jonathan Demme.
A director who should be cherished for his spirited filmmaking efforts; this is a long over-due love letter of sorts to everything Corman. His passion for film and anti-establishment philosophy makes him a legend in his field.