Cannes Q&A: Roger Corman


It's been a long reign of terror, fast cars and big breasts for Roger Corman, but he's also championed the films of such Cannes darlings as Ingmar Bergman and Francois Truffaut. On the eve of the world's most glamorous film festival, Corman spoke with Tom Roston for The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter:
Do you have a favorite memory from Cannes?

Roger Corman: I was one of the producers on (1982's) "Fitzcarraldo," starring Klaus Kinski. I was at the big party for the film with the director, Werner Herzog, and he said to me, "That crazy Klaus Kinski. We have him at a hotel two blocks away, and he won't walk the two blocks. He wants us to send a limousine." And we were short for money. I said, "You're right." A few minutes later, Klaus came up to me at the party and said, "Werner is too cheap." I said to him, "You are absolutely right, Klaus." I agreed with both of them, because they were both right.

THR: What will you be bringing to Cannes this year?

Corman: Frank (Moreno, who handles sales for my company Concorde-New Horizons,) will be there with "Cheerleader Massacre 2." The other film we'll be selling is "Cyclops." I also have a picture, "Road Raiders," starting in Manila (Philippines) in May. It's an ecological picture that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the most valuable commodity is water.

THR: One of your most popular films was 1975's post-apocalyptic "Death Race 2000." Is the apocalypse even more relevant today?

Corman: Yes, I think more so now than ever, with global warming, pollution and the exhaustion of our energy resources. Actually, "Death Race 2000" is being remade now for $80 million, starring Jason Statham. I'm executive producer.

THR: Do French audiences receive your films differently than American audiences?

They did at one time, when I was directing in the '60s. The American critics were not bothering to review low-budget films. The French, especially the Nouvelle Vague critics, thought much more of the American independent films. "Machine-Gun Kelly" (1958), starring Charles Bronson, got extraordinary reviews in France. I really appreciate how they received that film.

THR: Does it continue today?

Corman: Well, the French gave rise to the auteur theory of crediting the director, and I am not a director anymore. I have been a producer, so I don't really qualify for their attention. But now in the latter stages of my career, I understand that the attention is being given to younger filmmakers. And that's as it should be.