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7 Reasons Why Roger Corman Is a Legend

The Intruder (1962)

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The Intruder (1962) trailer

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

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The prolific producer, director and actor, still active at the age of 90 with at least one producing credit per year, is this year’s guest of honor at the Filmmakers Academy. Fiercely and proudly independent, Corman has tackled a wide variety of genres and formats, from film to television to Netflix. In honor of his presence in Locarno, to which the Festival also pays tribute with screenings of his films The Intruder (1962) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), we list a few reasons why he deserves to be remembered fondly as a major name in world cinema.

  1. He launched the careers of several prominent directors, producers and/or writers, including Robert Towne, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron and Joe Dante. To this day, he occasionally makes cameo appearances in their films.
     
  2. He also discovered actors such as Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern, Sandra Bullock and Robert De Niro. Nicholson in particular was a frequent collaborator of Corman in the 1960s, appearing in five of his films before becoming a major Hollywood star.
     
  3. Despite his fame as a low-budget filmmaker, Corman is also considered the benchmark when it comes to adapting Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, thanks to his Poe cycle of films released between 1959 and 1964 and mostly made in collaboration with writer Richard Matheson and actor Vincent Price.
     
  4. Corman directed the first ever biker movie, The Wild Angels, in 1965, and the first psychedelic counterculture film, The Trip, in 1967. They were screened in Venice and Cannes, respectively, with The Wild Angels having the additional honor of serving as the festival’s opening film.
     
  5. Speaking of Cannes, Corman was the first person to ever receive the festival’s Producer Award, in 1998. He subsequently received the David O. Selznick Award from the Producers Guild of America in 2006 and an Honorary Oscar in 2010.
     
  6. In 1964, he was the subject of a retrospective at the Cinémathèque Française. Aged 38 at the time, he was the youngest filmmaker to receive such an honor.
     
  7. Never one to walk away from advances in technology, Corman has expanded his output to television (the SyFy channel) and the Internet. In particular, he collaborated with Joe Dante and Corey Feldman on the web series Splatter, made in partnership with Netflix at a time when the latter was not yet a major player in terms of original content.
     
Max Borg
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