Abrams Press, out now
A beautifully illustrated look over the extensive career of Roger Corman.
Whether you love or loath his movies, there’s no denying the influence of Roger Corman on cinema in the latter half of the twentieth century. Often dismissed because of the “B” nature of many – most – of his body of work, he was finally awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2009, and used his speech to encourage film makers everywhere to “keep gambling, keep taking chances.”
Nashawaty’s book doesn’t try to give the films a gloss that they don’t have, but what his text, and the many new interviews which he has amassed for the book (which on their own would justify buying the volume) provide is an extraordinary insight into the working practices and requirements of the industry over a long period. Corman’s incredible work ethic as director and producer, and his gift for spotting talent (Martin Scorsese was just one of his protégés, cutting his teeth on Boxcar Bertha, one of Corman’s movies from 1972) are highlighted, as is his pragmatism – he didn’t like The Big Doll House, one of the sexploitation films shot in the Philippines, but when it grossed $4million against a cost of $100k, he admits his “scruples faded away”.
If this book was purely text-driven, it would warrant a place in the library of film fans, but the illustrations are what make it an essential buy. Virtually every spread features gorgeous colour reproductions of contemporary pictures – most include one or more of the garish posters that were created, but there are screen grabs and monochrome shots where appropriate. Page 27’s posters for She Gods of Shark Reef, Beast from Haunted-Cave and Not of This Earth could as easily be from a set of Syfy movies of the week (and of course there’s a link to the first of these in Dinocroc vs Supergator, one of the movies he produced for the channel).
Verdict: An essential purchase for anyone interested in looking beneath the gloss of the film industry. 9/10