Corman, Roger William

Corman, Roger William, 1926-, American film director, screenwriter, and producer, b. Detroit, Mi., Stanford Univ. (B.S., 1947). Corman studied industrial engineering in college, but then pursued work in the movie industry, working his way up to being a script reader at 20th Century Fox. His first screenplay was for the film Highway Dragnet (1953), which he sold to an independent producer, and he made his debut as a director with 1955’s Five Guns West, working for an independent company later known as American International Pictures (AIP). It became a leading producer of so-called “B movies” in the ’50s-‘60s, with Corman serving as its leading director primarily of horror films. He founded the production company Filmgroup in 1959. In 1960, he directed the horror-comedy hybrid Little Shop of Horrors for AIP, which later inspired a off-Broadway musical and film. In the 1960s, he became known for his low-budget horror films, often featuring actor Vincent Price. Also during this period, he began mentoring young directors just beginning their careers, producing early films by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, among many others. His film The Wild Angels (1966), starring Peter Fonda, is said to be the first biker movie, and may have inspired Fonda’s own Easy Rider (1969). He also made 1967’s The Trip, which was written by Jack Nicholson and starred Fonda and Dennis Hopper. In 1970, Corman founded New World Pictures to specialize in low-budget films and to distribute foreign films. Corman continued to produce comedies and horror films in the ’70s-’80s, directing his last feature, Frankenstein Unbound, in 1990. In 1995, he produced a 15-part horror/action film series for cable network Showtime and founded a short-lived comic book imprint (1995-96). In recent decades, he has primarily produced films for the Sci-Fi channel. His early films are particularly celebrated in Europe, where he has won several awards for his work, and he was honored with the David O. Selznick Award from the Producers Guild of America (2006) and an Honorary Academy Award (2010), among other awards, at home.

See his autobiography (1998); biographies by B. Gray (2012) and C. Nashawaty (2013); interviews with, C. Nasr, ed. (2011); studies by E. Naha (1982) and A. Silver and J. Ursini (2006).

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