When legendary B movie producer Roger Corman won an Academy Award several years ago, there was of course controversy about the decision.
The guy who made Attack of the Crab Monsters and Death Race 2000? But as far as I’m concerned, Roger Corman absolutely deserves his Oscar no matter what you think of his movies, because he launched more Oscar winners than anybody.
Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Towne (screenwriter of Chinatown), Jonathan Demme, Robert De Niro, and Martin Scorsese are just a few who got their start from Roger.
Corman provided the best film school anyone could have attended in that you learned by working on a real feature film that got released.
If you want to scoff that these films primarily played the drive-ins, there were more drive-ins than theaters in those days, and Corman’s movies dominated them for decades.
On B movies, everybody had to wear many hats, and in the process, you did everything on a film, and learned everything you needed to know to make a movie, and then some. No film school could provide this kind of hands on exepriecne, and it’s unfortunate there’s nobody like Corman today giving young Hollywood a break.
As Peter Bogdanovich, director of The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, recalled in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, when he worked on the Corman biker epic The Wild Angels, ”I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven’t learned as much since.”
Sure, you barely got paid anything, but as Beverly Gray reported in her biography of Corman, he’d tell young filmmakers he was getting the money, they were getting a career.
Now there’s Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, a documentary on Roger that features interviews with Nicholson, Ron Howard (who directed his first film for Corman), De Niro, Bruce Dern, Demme, Pam Grier, Joe Dante (Gremlins), and Scorsese, to name a few.
Where a lot of people in Hollywood try to forget they ever did B movies when they hit the big time, many who worked for Corman are grateful to this day he gave them their first big break.
Reviewing the film from Sundance, Collider gave it a B rating, funny enough for a documentary on B movies, adding, “Folks who are already familiar with Corman’s work probably won’t have much to gleam from the documentary, but Corman’s fans will undoubtedly enjoy seeing the filmmaker receive his due. Corman’s World provides a thoughtful look at why audiences and Hollywood owe him a debt of gratitude.”