Film Independent At LACMA Review - 'Corman's World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel' Inspiring But Incomplete
Anyone doing a documentary on infamous B-movie master Roger Corman has got a plethora of product to draw from. As the driving force behind over three hundred plus titles equal parts good, bad and ugly, Corman’s career as both director and producer spans decades and the sheer magnitude of his body of work is both a blessing and a curse for newbie doc filmmaker Alex Stapleton and her flick "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel" – inspiring but incomplete.
Corman’s story is one of an outsider deciding to embrace going against the grain. After working on an early Fox picture titled "The Gunfighter" and receiving no credit, Corman decided one day to make films his way. Thus began what would be an up and down rollercoaster ride of a career for the unconventional Corman, a man who never met a cheap budget he didn’t like.
As chronicled partly by various huge talents gone on to bigger things (Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich to name a few!) and partly by friends (Jack Nicholson seems to have affinity and distain for Corman!) and family (wife Julie Corman’s story about the way they got hitched is both priceless and Corman-esk!), Corman appears to strangely be a man who's satisfied with just earning a living making movies – quickly. It’s what is so engaging about Corman as a subject, namely his pleasure in making cheese ridden forgettable flicks ("Swamp Women" and "Attack of the Crab Monsters" anyone?!), but also his even more amazing and effortless dismissal of the ones that got away. (Flicks passed on – "Mean Streets" and "Easy Rider!")
Though there is a big rock in the lush looking swimming pool that is Corman’s World and it’s that there is a ton of notable stuff glossed over. Meaning for all the long dissections of films like "The Intruder" (an important film that gets too much time here!) and The Wild Angels, there is little said about others like "The Little Shop of Horrors" (it spawned a damn musical!) or taking producing duties for flicks like "Piranha."
Doc maven Alex Stapleton does her best to add flavor (she does include a good amount of stuff from the recent gamey cheese fest "Dinoshark" - great!) and flash (the sequence of various Corman movies earns the official 80’s montage award!), but there is just not enough of the entire spectrum of the Corman universe throughout his years to make this one a fully fledged cinematic love letter to the man and his work.
In all fairness this one should have been longer and broken into multiple parts like a supplemental on a special edition. Early work has always been key with me, but to make it a focus and bypass a ton of later material feels like the classic mistake of doc that’s trying to bite off more then it can chew. It's gluttony that may be worthy of "Supergator," but not a dissection of the cool career of Corman.
Stars: 3 1/2
Cast: Roger Corman, Jack Nicholson, William Shatner
Director: Alex Stapleton
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Company: Anchor Bay Films