Most of Roger Corman’s movies are not good, but the stories behind them are fascinating. So Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel tells the Roger Corman story, in his words and, even better, in the words of his famous employees.
Jack Nicholson dominates the interviews and his tales of Corman are self-deprecating and emotional. Director Alex Stapleton also got Joe Dante obviously, Scorsese, Sayles, Shatner, Bogdanovich, Fonda, De Niro, Grier. She even got several who are no longer with us: David Carradine, Irvin Kershner and George Hickenlooper.
Really what Corman says himself is the most interesting. You could have a whole documentary from only his perspective, but how can you argue with getting Nicholson, Scorsese and De Niro reminiscing? Nicholson makes a metaphor about money being to directors as paint is to artists, and Corman thins the paint.
Corman’s theories make perfect sense. He says in a monster movie, the monster should kill early, and then often. He has the same actors play cowboys and Indians in Apache Woman. One ends up killing himself. The business talk is face pace, plus the details are cool. Corman has no illusions and admits not all of his movies are good. Nobody can explain The Terror but it’s an example of Corman using his resources to make something, rather than let sets and actors go to waste.
He actually made one socially relevant movie. The Intruder was about white supremacy and segregation. In the ‘60s the world wasn’t ready for it. On the set of Dinoshark, you see Corman in action making decisions that will affect the artistic integrity of the Syfy channel movie.
I will say I wrote down the titles Hollywood Boulevard, The Woman Hunt, Too Hot to Handle, The Hot Box as potentials to check out, but really only because they promised the craziest exploitation. Avalanche I’d be curious to see how Corman does a disaster movie on a Corman budget.
The film goes through the ‘70s where blockbusters like Jaws and Star Wars stole Corman’s business with bigger budgets. It jumps to Corman’s lifetime achievement Oscar and recognition by the Tarantino generation. Corman shares his philosophy and Nicholson actually cries talking about him. Have we ever seen Jack cry in a movie? There’s your special effect right there.