Roger Corman: Interviews

Article excerpt

Roger Cormcm: Interviews Constantine Nasr, Editor. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

Since he directed his first feature, Five Guns West, in 1955, Roger Corman has continued to be one of the most active and successful directors and producers of low-budget movies in America. During his sixtyseven-year career, Corman has worked - either as writer, director, or producer (and frequently all three) - in just about every possible genre, including westerns, horror, science fiction, teenage exploitation films, biker films, and erotica. Corman is best known today for a series of horror films released in the 1960s loosely based on stories by Edgar Allen Poe and starring (with one exception) Vincent Price. Cheaply made but surprisingly polished, Corman's Poe films garnered favorable notice that brought him to the attention of film scholars and other academics, who have since written a steady stream of articles and books assessing his work and influence on other filmmakers. Corman, who largely abandoned directing in favor of producing after 1970, continues to excite critical interest, as witnessed by the appearance of Constantine Nasr's Roger Corman: Interviews. Nasr has brought together a series of interviews with the legendary showman at various stages of his career, most published previously, the first from 1964, the last with Nasr from 2008. Interspersed are four pieces by Corman himself, ranging from an opinion piece on the declining intelligence of sci-fi movies (from 1957!), to papers delivered at various filmmaking symposia, to Corman's acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement Oscar at the 2009 Academy Awards. In addition, the book contains a chronology of the director's life, a fairly detailed filmography, a selected list of some of the over 400 films produced by Corman, a brief list of his acting roles, and a brief bibliography containing a mix of popular works and film scholarship.

As might be expected in a work of this kind, there is a fair amount of repetition across the pieces, and reading them in one sitting can induce a strong feeling of déjà vu. Moreover, there is much more here of the anecdotal than the analytical. However, what is here will surely hold the interest of scholars of American film and American studies, not to mention film buffs and horror mavens. Especially interesting are the insights that can be gleaned about Corman's extraordinarily efficient film production technique. …