Corman's World (NC)

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The Independent Culture

An éminence grise of the Hollywood counterculture, the film producer/director Roger Corman embodies contradiction, as this affectionate tribute makes clear.

Known as a "B-movie schlockmeister" for his cheapo horror flicks and biker pics, Corman was also instrumental in bringing the art-house to America – Bergman and Fellini both prospered under his aegis. Y

ou'd imagine from his CV he's a cigar-chomping, loud-talking maniac, whereas the reality is a stately, smiling gent of whom no one has a bad word to say – disciples interviewed include Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme and Martin Scorsese. Best and funniest is Jack Nicholson, who's under no illusion that most of the Corman oeuvre in which he starred is "grim", yet he's so grateful to his early employer that, mid-recall, he starts to weep – yes, an actor of course, but I don't think he's pretending.

Corman's story is a brilliant exception in an industry where so many crash and burn: he made his first feature in 1955, and is still hard at it today in his eighties (his latest: Dinoshark). But see this for Nicholson too: "Every once in a while Roger'd make a good film by mistake – I was never in it."