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Roger Corman, the legendary indie filmmaker who received an honorary Oscar two years ago in celebration of his colorful decades-long career, is the subject of a provocative new documentary entitled Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, which was directed by first-time filmmaker Alex Stapleton and strikes me as a very real possibility for a best documentary feature Oscar nod.
Corman, who has been called “the king of B-movies,” has made hundreds of low-budget exploitation flicks since the 1950s — films of the sort that played at drive-in theaters (when they still existed), attracted counterculture “teenagers” (a post-World War II phenomenon), and that nostalgic film buffs like Quentin Tarantino still cherish and revisit on late-night TV and DVDs. (Tarantino regards Corman as a hero; cast Pam Grier, a regular of 1970s Corman films, in his 1997 film Jackie Brown; and took his own stab at the exploitation genre in 2007 with Death Proof.)
In addition to providing escapist entertainment to legions of people, Corman is also largely responsible for the careers of many of the great directors and actors of the past half-century — people like Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Peter Fonda, Peter Bogdanovich, and Ron Howard, all of whom took some of their first steps into the world of film at what is today referred to, only half-jokingly, as “the Corman School of Filmmaking.”
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss Stapleton’s doc and the life that inspired it with Corman (who is now a youthful-looking 85 and still churning out films), his wife, Julie Corman (who has long played an instrumental role in her husband’s productions), and Stapleton (who seems to regard them both as surrogate parents and heroes) at the Los Angeles offices of Concorde-New Horizons, Corman’s production company.
See the video at the top of this post for my chat with the three of them, and the video at the bottom of this post for my more extensive chat with Corman himself.
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