R.I.P. Roger Corman

Roger Corman in 2012
Roger Corman in 2012

The legendary director, producer, and actor Roger Corman passed away on May 9 (Photo ©Angela George).

Roger Corman was born on April 5, 1926, in Santa Monica, California. He studied at Stanford University but between 1944 and 1946 he served in the US Navy. In 1947 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering but only worked for a few days as an engineer because he realized that he didn’t want to do that kind of job and immediately devoted himself to cinema instead.

In the 1950s, Roger Corman started working in the world of cinema with minor roles, initially in the mail room and then moving on until he worked at revising screenplays. He took advantage of the possibility of receiving a scholarship as a World War II veteran to study English literature at the British University of Oxford and lived for some time in Paris.

When he returned to the USA, Roger Corman resumed working in the world of cinema and occasionally television. The first movie he produced was “Monster from the Ocean Floor” (1954). It was the beginning of a career that made him famous as a pioneer of low-budget independent productions. His directorial debut came with “Five Guns West” (1955).

After having produced and directed movies of diverse genres, Roger Corman became famous for adapting works by Edgar Allan Poe, starting in 1960 with “House of Usher”. Those were movies produced with Richard Matheson as screenwriter and Vincent Price as protagonist.

For decades, Roger Corman worked primarily as a producer credited on over 500 movies in a very long career that was also the subject of books focused on a man whose importance to the world of cinema can’t be overemphasized. Among other things, he helped launch the careers of directors who later became famous, from Martin Scorsese to Francis Ford Coppola, and actors who became some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, from Jack Nicholson to Robert De Niro.

In 2009, Roger Corman received an Honorary Academy Award for his rich engendering of films and filmmakers. It’s just a small tribute to a man who has been appreciated for decades for his productions. His influence on generations of filmmakers proves what a master of cinema he was, a craftsman capable of creating quality movies with limited means.

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