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Roger Corman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (24) | Personal Quotes (19) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Birth NameRoger William Corman
Nickname King of the Bs
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Roger William Corman was born April 5, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Initially following in his father's footsteps, Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but while in school, he began to lose interest in the profession and developed a growing passion for film. Upon graduation, he worked a total of three days as an engineer at US Electrical Motors, which cemented his growing realization that engineering wasn't for him. He quit and took a job as a messenger for 20th Century Fox, eventually rising to the position of story analyst.

After a term spent studying modern English literature at England's Oxford University and a year spent bopping around Europe, Corman returned to the US, intent on becoming a screenwriter/producer. He sold his first script in 1953, "The House in the Sea," which was eventually filmed and released as Highway Dragnet (1954).

Horrified by the disconnect between his vision for the project and the film that eventually emerged, Corman took his salary from the picture, scraped together a little capital and set himself up as a producer, turning out Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954). Corman used his next picture, The Fast and the Furious (1955), to finagle a multi-picture deal with a fledgling company called American Releasing Corp. (ARC). It would soon change its name to American-International Pictures (AIP) and with Corman as its major talent behind the camera, would become one of the most successful independent studios in cinema history.

With no formal training, Corman first took to the director's chair with Five Guns West (1955) and over the next 15 years directed 53 films, mostly for AIP. He proved himself a master of quick, inexpensive productions, turning out several movies as director and/or producer in each of those years--nine movies in 1957, and nine again in 1958. His personal speed record was set with The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), which he shot in two days and a night.

In the early 1960s he began to take on more ambitious projects, gaining a great deal of critical praise (and commercial success) from a series of adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, most of them starring Vincent Price. His film The Intruder (1962) was a serious look at racial integration in the South, starring a very young William Shatner. Critically praised and winning a prize at the Venice Film Festival, the movie became Corman's first--and, for many years, only--commercial flop. He called its failure "the greatest disappointment in my career." As a consequence of the experience, Corman opted to avoid such direct "message" films in the future and resolved to express his social and political concerns beneath the surface of overt entertainments.

Those messages became more radical as the 1960s wound to a close and after AIP began re-editing his films without his knowledge or consent, he left the company, retiring from directing to concentrate on production and distribution through his own newly formed company, New World Pictures. In addition to low-budget exploitation flicks, New World also distributed distinguished art cinema from around the world, becoming the American distributor for the films of Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, François Truffaut and others. Selling off New World in the 1980s, Corman has continued his work through various companies in the years since--Concorde Pictures, New Horizons, Millenium Pictures, New Concorde. In 1990, after the publication of his biography "How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime"--one of the all-time great books on filmmaking--he returned to directing but only for a single film, Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

With hundreds of movies to his credit, Roger Corman is one of the most prolific producers in the history of the film medium and one of the most successful--in his nearly six decades in the business, only about a dozen of his films have failed to turn a profit. Corman has been dubbed, among other things, "The King of the Cult Film" and "The Pope of Pop Cinema" and his filmography is packed with hundreds of remarkably entertaining films in addition to dozens of genuine cult classics. Corman has displayed an unrivaled eye for talent over the years--it could almost be said that it would be easier to name the top directors, actors, writers and creators in Hollywood who DIDN'T get their start with him than those who did. Among those he mentored are Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante and Sandra Bullock. His influence on modern American cinema is almost incalculable. In 2009 he was honored with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: jriddle73 <jriddle73@hotmail.com> (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

Julie Corman (23 December 1970 - present) (4 children)

Trade Mark (2)

Distinctive clipped, deliberate and articulate way of speaking
Directs horror/sci-fi films, often low-budget "homages" to big-budget blockbusters

Trivia (24)

Brother of producer Gene Corman.
Tribute in the Memory of Film section at the Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium. [2001]
In the early years of the American Releasing Corporation (later American International Pictures), he became one of their major sources of product for distribution. He would be given a sum of money and an advertising campaign (or somethimes just a title) and he would have to come up with the scripts and produce the films.
If he had to shoot a film on location, he would always try to shoot a second film at that same location in order to spread out the costs.
In the new decade of the 1960s, he decided that he wanted to do something that would advance his career. When American International offered him a sum of money to create another one of their low-budget black-and-white double features, he countered with an offer to use the same money to shoot a single feature in color and Cinemascope. American International finally agreed to this offer. It led to the production of House of Usher (1960). The gamble paid off and the film became a box-office hit and generated something that was unusual for an AIP release - critical praise. This was followed by what became known as Corman's "Poe series".
A running gag in Hollywood was that Corman could negotiate the production of a film on a pay phone, shoot the film in the booth, and finance it with the money in the change slot.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985." Pages 234-242. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
His film The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) set a world's record for the shortest shooting schedule for a feature film...Two days!.
Frequently has cameos or bit parts in the films of many successful filmmakers who got their start working for him, such as Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante and Francis Ford Coppola.
In Attack of the Bat Monsters (1999), the character Francis Gordon, as played by Fred Ballard, is "noticeably patterned" after him.
Attended Stanford University and Oxford University.
Society of Operating Cameramen (SOC) Recipient, Governors Award (CAMMY) (2004).
Father of Catherine Corman and uncle of Todd Corman.
Corman, as a director and/or producer, is credited with starting and/or mentoring the careers of many now-famous film directors, such as Jonathan Demme, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, John Sayles, James Cameron, Joe Dante, and Martin Scorsese, and writers such as Robert Towne and John Sayles. He also discovered/gave early roles to then-unknown actors and actresses such as Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Diane Ladd and Sandra Bullock.
Discusses his movie House of Usher (1960) in the book "A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde" (McFarland & Co., 2010) by Tom Weaver.
As an example of his influence in Hollywood, no Corman-produced movies were up for Oscars at the 1974 Academy Awards, but nearly every major category featured wins or nominations by "Corman School" graduates--those whom Corman had either started in the business or mentored early in their careers.
Although his films were notable for the flair and mobility with which he composed for widescreen, Corman revealed in "Cinema Retro" magazine (Issue #18) that he hadn't originally wanted to shoot his cult Poe series in Panavision: "I thought the anamorphic lens was better suited to westerns, whereas I was shooting in these contained little sets. But that was a decision made by AIP [American International Pictures]. They were convinced that just using that lens would not only make the pictures look bigger but sound bigger in the ads.".
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7013 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on June 12, 1991.
His paternal grandparents, Jacob Corman and Bessie Arst, were Russian Jewish immigrants. His mother was of German ancestry.
Attended and graduated from Beverly Hills High School.
He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Turned down the opportunity to direct Easy Rider (1969).
He produced four sci-fi movies with Starfield Independent Studios: Falling Fire (1997), Future Fear (1997), Shepherd (1998), and Cybermaster (1999).
As of 2017, during his career as an actor, he has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Apollo 13 (1995). With the exception of the latter, the other two films are winners in the category.

Personal Quotes (19)

In science-fiction films, the monster should always be bigger than the leading lady.
I think there is always a political undercurrent in my films. With the exception of The Intruder (1962), I tried not to put it on the surface.
All my films have been concerned simply with man as a social animal.
I've never made the film I wanted to make. No matter what happens, it never turns out exactly as I hoped.
[on his first job in the film industry, looking through material that might be turned into movies] I was a reader at 20th Century Fox, and I'd only been there a few months, and the story editor called me in and said: "Roger, you have never given a positive analysis of anything we've ever given you". And I said: "That's because I'm the youngest guy here and you give me all the rotten stuff. Give me something that's good and I'm perfectly willing to praise it".
Horror films always do well. But in cycles. One horror film will do well, and people will make lots of horror films, saturate the market until there are too many horror films and people will slow down making horror films. And then it'll start up again.
I felt Jack Nicholson was brilliant from the time I met him. I enrolled in a method acting class, not to learn how to act, but to learn how to relate to actors. And that's where I met Jack. The thing that surprised me is that it took so long for him to be recognized.
[on Martin Scorsese preferring The Wild Angels (1966) to Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957)] I think Marty sometimes says things just to startle people. But we can certainly agree that 'Wild Angels' had more action than 'Wild Strawberries'.
[on Death Race 2050 (2017)'s political overtones] The president does have a hairstyle which could be approaching [president elect Donald J. Trump's] hairstyle, but I don't want to get too heavy into that, because Trump will come and go and the film will remain. So it's a mistake to try to hit something that specific, knowing that in a few years no one will know what that hairstyle is about.
The myth that when I was directing that I was always printing the first take. I would generally go two, three, four takes. First take is generally not exactly what you're looking for.
[on advising Francis Ford Coppola not to go to the Philippines to shoot Apocalypse Now (1979)] Having made films there myself, I said, "Francis, don't go! You're going into the rainy season". He said, "Oh, it'll be a rainy picture". But it's not rain as we know it. It starts in May and continues through to October. His set was wiped out. And the insurance paid out on the basis of a monsoon. But there was no monsoon! It was just normal July weather. He went back in good weather and made the film.
With me, Jack Nicholson would generally go second, third take. Stanley Kubrick on The Shining (1980) went over 100 takes on one scene. I can't remember exactly, but it was 120, 130 takes or something. And Jack is a good guy, and stood there doing his lines 120, 130 times. And he told me he went up to Kubrick afterwards and said, "Stanley, I'm with you all the way, but I want you to know I generally peak about the 70th or 80th take".
[on his first flop, The Intruder (1962)] It changed a lot of my feelings about filmmaking. It went to festivals and got really great reviews. One New York critic said, "'The Intruder' is a major credit to the entire American film industry". And it was the first movie I made that lost money! I analyzed it. Even though it got all the critical acclaim and so forth, it was too much of a lesson, trying to teach the audience. I had to get back to entertainment.
[on his cycle of Edgar Allan Poe movies] What I was trying to do was bring back the concept of the gothic horror film, which was not original to me, obviously. But that type of film had fallen out of favor, so for a young audience it was a new type of film, and I felt that would appeal to them. And always with Vincent Price playing the lead, it would be a young man and a young girl playing the second leads, so we did have the name and the stature of Vincent, but we would have a young leading man and leading lady in their twenties to appeal to a teenage audience. So I was trying to get it both ways. And I simply wanted to do House of Usher (1960).
[2013] The cycle of horror right now is more explicit than when I was doing horror films. Indirection used to be the word. We suggested, we implied the horror by the cutting, camera movements and storyline, the horror was built up and built up. Now you're more likely just to cut somebody's hand off, and blood spurts across the screen, and you get horror that way. I think that will start to fade. I've been around long enough to see cycles start, build and come to an end. One director cuts off someone's hand at the wrist, the next at the shoulder. It just gets gorier and gorier. The audience will react and turn away from this.
[on Death Race 2000 (1975)] The original idea came from a short story by Ib Melchior. I felt that the idea was good but that it had to be developed. So I added the political element. I started thinking about the violence in society and in sport, from the Roman gladiatorial games on, and the involvement of spectators. And that's when the idea of killing the pedestrians came to me. I thought that really added to it.

But then I thought, you can't take the killing of the pedestrians seriously. Well, if you're a pedestrian you can, but if you're watching the film, it has to be a comedy. So it developed from a short story about cars hitting other cars into a social and political commentary, an action comedy. The commentary is secondary; it is not a serious essay on violence in society. It is primarily an action comedy.
The $100 and $200 million films are dominating the box office so much that there is no space, or very little space, for the independent films. Every now and then an independent film will come through and can do some business at the box office. So the genre is not completely dead, but it's been heavily damaged.
The film industry will always exist, but it will no longer be the film industry. It will be digital or possibly virtual reality, or holograms. I think of it as an industry, a business, and an art form. Today, the business end of it has become more powerful than the art form. I think what we need to save it - although it's making real money and it's not in real trouble - to reinvigorate it is to remember this is an art form as well as a business. You can't continually spend $100 or $200 million on a superhero picture. You've got to at least let some films come through that are closer to art.
I started as a writer and then I became a writer-producer. I produced two films and I watched what the directors were doing and I simply said: "I can do that". So, I just took over on the third film that I produced and started directing. I watched the two directors and saw what they were doing. I looked to other films and studied them, the way the shots were laid out and so forth, and taught myself to direct.

Salary (2)

Highway Dragnet (1954) $3,500
Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990) $1,000,000

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