Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) Movie Script

In a filmmaking career
that has spanned over 30 years,
my next guest is the man responsible
for such cinematic classics
as "the house of Usher,"
"wild angels,"
"the monster
from the ocean floor,"
"the attack
of the crab monsters."
Please welcome Roger corman.
Low-budget movies in those days--
it wasn't like today.
Nobody was really trying
to make them good.
There was the real emphasis
on the price.
Roger corman has made more
than 200 motion pictures in his career,
most of them
for extremely low budget.
He's produced
around 150-175 films.
He made so many movies.
In 1957, he directed 10 movies.
Most people
don't get to do that.
He made 250 movies
and never lost a dime.
Okay, this is not
a $20-million movie.
You know, this is
a $1.98 science fiction movie.
We knew these were made
fast and cheap,
and we also knew that taste
was out of the question.
There was no need for taste.
The way Disney movies, you know,
bring out the child in all of us,
you know,
so can exploitation.
Sometimes he'll give the notes
right on the script
and you get little
marginal references like
"breast nudity possible here?"
Question mark.
The goal was, Roger said,
"every motorcycle that runs,
have it smash into something.
And then when it stops running,
blow it up."
He said, "your job,
if the cops come,
is to pick up the camera
and run."
I said, "we're in the middle
of the desert.
What do you mean,
there is no water?"
It's a Roger corman movie, you know.
There's no water.
You know, they kind of went
around the sound stage,
one take on everything.
That's just the way he worked.
You know, you didn't
argue with him.
And we were delighted
to be working.
It doesn't matter
if people are happy.
It doesn't matter if you have a permit.
None of it matters.
You know, the only thing that counts
is what you get inside the frame.
He's still around,
making pictures
in his 80s and he's--
i just saw him the other day.
He hasn't changed at all.
Man: One, two, three.
And action!
Man: One, two, three.
I'm in the water
with a giant creature on my arms...
...pumping blood out, chomping on
a beautiful girl in a bikini.
I mean, it's the essence
of Roger corman cinema.
Roger corman:
We feel that the monster
should kill somebody
fairly early
and then at regular intervals
through the picture.
The first kill should be
quite shocking.
The other kills can be
a little bit less shocking
as we build up.
And then of course the climax--
everything goes,
blood all over the screen.
Frances doel: Roger had made
two previous movies
for the syfy channel
that did very well for them.
And he said, "okay, Frances,
it's 'dinoshark.'
you know what that is."
And of course I say,
"yes, I know what that is.
It's a giant shark."
"Yes, but not too much like 'jaws."'
"No, of course not."
- Woman: 122-Charlie, take three.
- Man: Marker.
Julie corman:
"Dinoshark" is about a shark
that is unloosed
because of global warming
from an avalanche
north of Alaska...
Eric balfour:
That's your killer.
It hasn't eaten
in 150 million years
and it's hungry.
...And somehow mysteriously
makes its way south
to puerto vallarta
and pretty much terrorizes
everybody and everything
in sight.
David carradine:
You know, that whole world
is just so different from
the "entertainment weekly" world
or the academy award world.
The golden globes
don't even hear about these things.
You know, these pictures--
they just go someplace else.
And there's an incredible
number of people
that want to see a picture
just like this.
Doel: The paradise village
also had some accommodation
for actors and crew and so on.
So that's always been one of those
little tricks up Roger's sleeve--
how he can do what he does
on a budget.
Roger always said, you know,
"you could make 'Lawrence of Arabia'
for a half a million dollars.
You just don't leave the tent."
If you could imagine
knows Berry farm set on a beach,
but the only people in the park
were senior citizens,
no rides, but it had
a theme-park-like atmosphere,
that is what we have
affectionately dubbed
paradise prison.
Who is two minutes
from being ready for what?
Balfour: At first I thought
it was maybe some kind of
electromagnetic field that doesn't
allow the walkie-talkie service.
Man: I need a radio
that works.
But it turns out
that we just bought,
you know,
children's walkie-talkies.
This is full-on
guerilla-style filmmaking.
I mean, you know, we're sort of
running and gunning
and stealing locations
and driving boats
- where they shouldn't be driven.
- Man: Go, go, go, get out!
Oh, my god.
At one point they wanted
somebody to get in this water...
- Man: Action!
- ...To get attacked by something.
Well, it turns out there was actually
things to get attacked by.
Not that this wasn't obvious.
There was a giant sign
that said "crocodiles."
Should she be there?
Well, that's where she was
in the wide shot.
- The way this will be cut, it'll work.
- Okay. All right.
You wouldn't think of the movies,
if you met him,
that he'd have done
all these movies--
very polite, very--
almost British.
He really came across, I felt,
as more like an English
film professor, you know.
I expected him to be teaching
at Oxford or Cambridge
rather than kind of making
all of these
kind of violent exploitation movies
that he had made.
I thought he'd be more like
Lee j. Cobb, let's say,
or somebody a little--
where they're smoking a cigar
and pounding
on the desk and--
"you kids get in there
and do that work," and, you know--
and actually
he's very eloquent,
elegant and precise,
from what I saw,
and very, very different
from the type of person
you'd think would be behind
these pictures like "teenage cave man."
The difference between
the image you present
to the world
and what is going on inside,
in your unconscious mind,
is significant.
I've been told
that my image is
I'm just sort of an ordinary
straight guy.
Clearly my unconscious mind
is some sort of
a boiling inferno there.
Like most kids,
i was interested in films
essentially all my life.
I graduated from Stanford university
in California in engineering.
I worked four days
as an engineer and quit.
The only job I could get in films
was a messenger
at 20th century fox.
And I worked my way up from that
to become a story analyst.
I read scripts,
commented on them,
and handed in a synopsis
of the script or the novel
or whatever had been proposed
with my opinion.
As the youngest reader,
i was given
frankly the most hopeless
scripts to cover.
And the story editor said,
"Roger, you have never
recommended one script."
And I said, "you've never given me
a script that's worth recommending."
So they sent me a script
which was the first thing
I'd ever read at fox
that I thought was really
any good at all.
And I made a number
of notes on it.
The picture became "the gunfighter"
starring Gregory peck.
And the story editor
got a bonus for my notes.
And I got no recognition
for the fact
that a number of my ideas
were used in the script.
This became a big hit for fox.
You would have thought he would have
had some acknowledgement.
This caused him to leave fox
and become what he is today.
After "the gunfighter,"
he corralled some money
from our parents
and some of his money
and a few friends',
got an enormous number
of deferments
and made his first film--
"monster from the ocean floor."
And that was basically
the beginnings of Roger corman.
I was the producer,
the assistant director and everything.
I would drive the truck
to the location
and unload everything I could
by myself.
And I would save about an hour
on the crew salary
every morning.
The second picture I made
was a picture called
"the fast and the furious."
It was about road racing and of course
had very, very little money.
Jonathan haze: Roger went to
some sports car dealerships
and borrowed sports cars.
And we took the windshields off them
and actually raced them.
And then we'd clean them up
and take them back.
Roger was just so inane
at the time
and was trying
to do it himself
and was starting
to run out of money.
If you don't understand money
in the movie business,
it's like an artist
who doesn't understand paint.
Roger told me,
"well, I understand paint.
If I got to thin her up with turpentine
or there's no picture,
why, she gets thinned up a little.
That's all there is to it."
I could see the problem
for the independent.
You raised the money.
You made the picture.
And then you had to wait
for the picture to earn its money back
before you could make
another picture.
But Sam arkoff
and Jim Nicholson
were starting a new company--
American international.
And they made me an offer
for "the fast and the furious"
to start their company with.
I said, "i want
a three-picture deal
in which I'm guaranteed
my money back.
As soon as I finish one film,
I go to the next one
using the guarantee."
And that essentially
started me
on a regular basis
of making films
and started
American international.
Don't call me "squaw."
You're a dirty apache squaw.
I'm gonna kill you.
Your people did that--
raiding, thieving, killing.
Haze: I was very famous
for fighting with the girls.
This was "apache woman."
Joan Taylor and I did
a knife fight in the street.
And this is dick Miller
in the background
where he belonged.
A friend of mine,
Jonathan haze, said,
"well, maybe I'll introduce you
to Roger corman and he can help you."
We went down there.
He said, "what do you do?"
I said, "I'm a writer."
He said, "we don't need
any writers right now."
He says, "i need actors."
I said, "I'm an actor."
He says, "you want to play
an Indian for me?"
At the end I got killed.
Roger said, "how would you like
to play a cowboy for me?"
I said, "oh, are we going
to another picture?"
He says,
"no, no, this picture."
I said, "oh, god. Okay."
I wound up killing myself
in the last scene.
I don't know
what the budgets were,
but they were really low.
We shot them in seven days,
so that gives you an idea.
And that's everything,
including special effects
or anything else, you know.
Some weren't all that great, and Roger'd
be the first guy to tell you that.
I never had the opportunity
to go to film school.
My student work
was being shown on the screen.
And some of it wasn't quite as good
as it might have been,
but I was learning
all the time.
Beat it, I said.
You're on a battlefield.
I know that better than you do,
sergeant. How well are you doing?
Half my men are dead.
Nothing can stop that thing.
Call off your troops.
Scorsese: It's as if these films
were being made
on your street corner,
in a way.
They weren't encumbered
by having to deal with "art"
with a capital a-r-t.
They just weren't-- I mean,
they're art in another way.
I learned fairly quickly
how to handle the camera,
what to do with editing,
but I didn't know enough
about acting,
and I felt I should simply
take a class.
And that was where I met
Jack Nicholson.
Nicholson: He came into the class
with that little smile,
and everybody's as serious
as a heart attack, you know.
He had-- when I was
first working for him,
he told me he had
12 companies,
the contracts of which
were all in his back pocket.
I mean, he was
a one-man band.
Don't make me.
Don't be a fool, kid.
You think I would carry
a real gun?
As a matter of fact, the first picture
Jack Nicholson starred in
was for me-- a picture called
"the cry baby killer"
about a kid who takes
a drive-in hostage.
It's coming. Can't you get him
to be quiet until it comes?
Nicholson: I hadn't really
worked at all before.
Then I got a lead in the movie.
I thought, "oh, this is it.
I'm here.
I'm gonna be big," you know.
Then I didn't even get an interview
for the next year.
Look, Carole was a swell girl
until Manny got his hands on her.
You mean, till she wanted
Manny's hands on her.
Listen, Fred...
"Cry baby killer"
was just humiliating...
...but good for me.
Hey, Roger's the only guy
who hired me for about 10 years.
Teenagers-- never had 'em
when I was a kid.
The word "teenager" didn't
really exist until the '50s.
If you look at the '40s and '30s,
their idea of a teenage movie
was "Andy Hardy."
Hey, Betsy.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
What do you think's happened?
- What do you think's happened?
- What? Well, tell me what.
Cynthia won't go to the dance and
i don't know why and I don't want to.
Times were changing.
- Dave!
- Okay, Johnny.
Corman: The major studios
didn't really understand
the audience was looking for
a different type of film.
If we were going to make pictures
about young people,
I'd have picked a young guy
like Jack Nicholson.
But you're through
breaking the law.
Sarge, I don't break the law.
I make my own.
Roger really realized
that young people at that time
really liked movies
where teenagers
were in trouble
with the authorities.
He had found an audience
that you didn't have to go
through the studio system
to reach.
Not only was he a rebel
from Hollywood
in that he did it all himself and did it
outside of the studio system,
but there was an edge of rebellion,
you know, to the movies.
Dante: You make it
as disreputable as possible
so that the parents
wouldn't want them to see it
and that they feel
that when they go there,
they're doing
something transgressive,
and you've got an audience.
You're making
outlaw movies, basically.
And Roger has always
been an outlaw.
Let go of me, you big ape!
Now beat it, smart boy,
and don't come back
or I'll break your head.
Break whose head,
you phony frenchman?
You ain't so tough.
Took this moosehead to throw me out.
Corman: I've always been
I spent two years in the Navy.
Those were the worst
two years of my life.
I came very close to setting the record
for the most demerits,
because I felt
if they set up a rule,
I really must break that rule.
Ron Howard:
Roger understood
the need for audiences
to identify with rebellion.
Beating the system--
that's cathartic,
you know, defining yourself
on your own terms.
These things are elemental.
They're all what we go through
during those rites of passage.
I think that he understood
that when he was dealing
with those basic experiences
and feelings
that he was talking
to a young audience.
We know he always had
something up his sleeve.
He was more irreverent.
He was more hip--
very hip, very cool.
"A bucket of blood" is a really good
example of parody
of the hip scene,
the beat scene in la.
Walter, you've done
something to me,
something deep down
inside of my prana.
I have?
Oh, Walter,
i want to be with you.
You're creative.
Almost all of Roger's pictures
has a little edge to them.
They were--
they just bordered on
something sacrosanct,
that you shouldn't touch this,
and he did it anyway.
And that's usually
what pulled the picture through.
Feed me.
I'm sorry, pal.
I'm fresh out of blood.
Talk to somebody else.
I'm hungry.
I don't care what you are.
Can't you see I'm knocked out?
I just killed a man.
I'm a murderer.
He was always pushing.
Roger's idea at the time
was to cut down
the time of shooting.
So now his ambition
was to make a film in two days.
Now no novocain.
It dulls the senses.
Haze: It was work. I mean, we would
get there early in the morning
and we'd just start
grinding out these scenes.
One day was half the movie.
Oh, my god,
don't stop now.
Roger had borrowed
all the dental equipment
from his personal dentist
and they hadn't bolted it
down to the floor.
We banged into this big dental shit
and it started to fall over.
And Roger cut the camera
and ran out
and saved the dental equipment.
To hell with the scene.
I can truly say I've never
enjoyed myself so much.
Nicholson: I'd have terrible experiences
going into the theater
with movies that I had made
in that period with Roger,
'cause, you know, they were kind of--
a lot of them were grim.
- Bye.
- Bye now.
By mistake he actually made
a good picture every once in a while.
I was never in it,
but that was as much my fault
as the next guy's.
Corman: By the beginning
of the '60s
I began to have confidence
in my ability
to master the craft.
At least
she has found peace now.
Has she?
Jonathan demme:
We'd never miss a poe movie.
They were riveting and stylish
and hip and funny.
And we couldn't wait
for the next one.
And of course with Roger,
you didn't have to wait very long.
The next one was gonna come out,
like, a month later.
Do you know where you are,
The pit
and the pendulum.
Howard: The poe movies
were huge for me,
especially "the pit
and the pendulum."
They had this TV campaign
where the blade was coming down,
you know, and just kind of-- whew.
And, oh, my god, it was--
and I rushed.
In fact, that's probably the first time
that a TV campaign
made me go to the movie.
They were so successful,
I ended up making
six Edgar Allan poe films.
The artistry of the films
really developed
into the poe pictures:
"The house of Usher,"
"the pit and the pendulum,"
and "the tomb of ligeia,"
which is my favorite.
She desecrates the earth
in which she lies.
A nervous contraction,
nothing more.
Scorsese: He was a name
that we'd go like--
I must say
like a Hitchcock film.
We'd go see a Roger corman.
Corman: They wanted me
to make more,
but by that time I said, "enough.
I'm starting to repeat myself."
We played it for a little bit of humor
in some of the later pictures,
particularly "the raven."
I was doing "the raven."
And he said,
"Jack, look, these sets
are gonna be up
over the weekend,
so I can use
the same sets for free.
I'm gonna have somebody
write something."
And he went
and he got a guy who wrote
68 pages of just dialogue.
To this day, no one knows
the plot of "the terror."
It was very strange. I mean,
we played the weirdest characters.
I played a guy
that was an assistant to a witch.
In the beginning of the film,
I'm a deaf-mute.
And then halfway through
the film, they decided
that they didn't have
an ending for the film.
They'd better make me talk.
I can say no more.
There is great danger.
Find Eric.
Eric knows.
Dick played a livery Butler
with a New York accent.
Nicholson: And you'll see
in the picture now--
god forbid, I don't want
to encourage anyone to see it--
I throw dick Miller
up against this door.
Where's the baron?
We must get to him.
He's locked himself in the crypt.
And dick Miller
now tries to explain
the entire picture in one speech.
The baron did return that night
to find Eric with the baroness
and he did kill her.
But there was a struggle,
and in the fight
it was not Eric who died,
but the baron.
I killed the baron.
It's the only film
that I'd defy anybody to--
'cause there is-- there's no story
actually arrived at.
Various directors shot the film.
Francis coppola started
and shot some sequences at big sur,
but then got an opportunity
at a major studio.
So I had monte hellman
shoot for a while.
Monte then got another job
and I think--
I've forgotten all the directors.
There were four or five directors,
including finally Jack Nicholson
shot some scenes himself.
And eventually
i went in for an hour
and shot the final tie-in shots
and finished the picture.
It is a somewhat
confusing picture.
Oh, man, god.
Hopeless, all of it.
I think he wanted to be taken
seriously as a filmmaker
because up until then
he'd been making
monster movies
and Sci-Fi movies.
Perhaps it's not so much
that he wanted critical acclaim,
but he wanted some depth,
some feeling,
some reason
for making a movie.
I wanted to do something
a little bit different.
And I'd read the book
"the lntruder,"
which was about the integration
of the schools in the south.
And I wanted to make
that picture.
I was very much in favor
of integration.
I showed the screenplay
to American international
and said, "this will be
my next picture."
To my real surprise, they said
they didn't want to make it.
And they'd never said no.
I took it to allied artists.
They said no.
Everybody said no, so I said,
"all right, I'll make it myself."
So my brother and i
produced it in the south.
"He was a leader of men,
but he was evil.
He was a stranger,
but he brought lust and love,
rape and hate
to this quiet Southern town.
He was the intruder."
This is not the reason
we made this film.
It is the exact opposite
of what we intended
this film to be.
It was not and is not
an exploitation film.
This picture was the first film
that Roger could actually make
a statement
about his personal feelings
as opposed to doing
the poe films
or the films that were just
exploitation, drive-in films.
Corman: Playing the lead
was the new young actor
making his first film--
bill shatner.
All I knew was that it was
a wonderful part
and it was a wonderful
opportunity for me
at an early point in my career.
The character I played
was based on a real person.
He was a white supremacist
from New York City
and went down into the south
to rabble-rouse
and tries to stop
the integration of a school.
I mean, they've got 10 niggers
enrolled already in the school.
And they're starting Monday.
Yes, I know.
Do you think it's right?
No, I sure don't.
Neither does nobody.
But it's the law.
Whose law?
Shatner: What is difficult
for people to understand now--
"separate but equal"
was the law of the land.
That meant water fountains,
that meant restaurants,
it meant schools
that were totally segregated.
It was the height
of the integration wars.
It became very apparent
once we were down there
that people held
polar opposite views
of what was right
and what was wrong.
Man: Take it easy, nigger.
You're not going anywhere.
- Driver: What's the trouble?
- Are you looking for trouble?
No, sir. We're on our way
to the house.
"Just on our way to the house."
I didn't tell people
what the subject matter is,
but the title-- "lntruder," you know.
And with the track record
of Roger, all the films,
I mean, they naturally thought
it was a horror film
or something in that genre.
It was only as everything
started to unfold
and they saw exactly
what was happening--
I mean, people were
driving us out of locations.
We had to change motels.
I mean, it got to be
very heavy down there.
Hey, are you really gonna make him
go to the white school tomorrow?
Why, I'm not making him go.
Am I, Joey?
- No, ma.
- Well, it's too bad I ain't old enough.
I wouldn't be scared,
that's all.
Who's scared?
We were having
our lives threatened
to make a film about integration.
Roger displayed
such courage under fire.
And gene corman,
his brother--
such courage to make the film.
There was such animosity
and the experience of hatred
that I think we realized
we had a bigger problem.
I think we were more naive
than we should have been
at that point in time.
You were alone with a white girl
in the basement of the school,
but you didn't try to do anything?
Is that what you expect us
to believe, nigger?
Well, speak up!
Gene: We felt we should
definitely expose our audience
to this kind of material,
because this is what
was going on in America
and somebody
had to say, "stop.
This is not the American way."
It was a lie-- everything,
everything I said
about Joey, all of it.
You were gonna kill this boy.
You know it and I know it.
Shatner: Making films
is a dedication.
You have to be possessed.
At some point there,
i realized
that they had mortgaged
their home for that film.
That, perhaps, was the most
admirable thing of all,
because it's one thing
to be cavalier
about spending money
that isn't yours,
but to be so adamant
as to put your house
on the line,
that's-- that's extraordinary.
We aren't gonna give up now,
not now.
No, sir, not ever.
Gene: I'd set up the sneak preview
with pacific theaters.
It was almost a riot
in the theater.
People were screaming,
And one of the ushers
or one of the people
who worked at the theater
came up to me,
pinned me against the wall,
said, "you're a communist.
You don't belong in this country."
The picture was
a wonderful commercial
I started to say
"a wonderful critical success,"
but I got confused.
But I'll leave the confusion there
because it's all wound up in my mind.
It sort of gets me in the stomach
when I talk about it.
This is the only film
that I don't think
we ever made money on.
And yet it was our best film.
We were ahead of the time.
It made me rethink
my method of making pictures.
And I felt the public
really is the ultimate arbiter
of your film.
If there's something
you really want to do--
in Roger's case
it's making movies--
then you keep on doing it.
Every time you fail,
you just keep on.
Corman: I thought,
"i should go back
to a more commercial
type of film."
I was starting to learn
method acting technique.
There was what was known
as the text and the subtext.
The text is the written script,
what you were saying.
The subtext
is what you mean,
what you really feel,
that causes you
to say these words.
And I felt
I should make
my subject matter the text,
which will be
a commercial text,
but my theme,
my message,
what is important to me,
should be the subtext,
so the audience will get
what they paid their money to see.
I think he consciously
was looking
to contemporary events, news,
for inspiration for material
to make a movie.
Corman: Aip said, "all right,
what do you want to make?"
I said, "there's a phenomenon
in the country right now--
the hells angels,
the outlaw motorcycle gangs.
I want to make a picture
about the hells angels."
And they agreed instantly.
Peter bogdanovich:
Roger offered me $125 a week
to work as his assistant
on the picture.
And he said I could take
Polly with me.
His reputation was,
you know, complicated,
because I kept hearing
that he was a millionaire.
And I thought he was
pretty eccentric, you know,
'cause he didn't live
like a millionaire.
But I had little interest
in his movies, to be honest,
because I was a big snob
and I only liked Fritz lang
and Howard hawks
and John Ford.
The star of the picture
was George chakiris
who'd won an Oscar
for "westside story."
The phone rang
in my house here
in Los Angeles, in Beverly hills,
and it was Roger.
He said,
"we have a problem."
I said, "George can't ride."
He said, "how do you know?"
I said, "because I know George.
He can dance, but he can't ride.
You need a biker."
"Do you ride?"
I said, "oh, yeah, Roger, I ride.
I'll do it."
I said, "who's gonna
play my part?"
He said, "Bruce dern."
I said, "great. I know dernsy."
Bruce dern:
We just had, like, eight actors,
and the rest were all extras.
But the extras made the movie,
because they had the machines
and they were
what the movie was about.
And they were real
hells angels guys.
They were terrible.
They were frightening.
We all rode our bikes
down the 2, in the desert.
And he filmed it along the way.
But he didn't get a police escort
or anything like that.
He got no permits.
We just did it.
It was the beginning
of what you know now
as real guerilla filmmaking.
You know, Roger's a guy
who's not gonna miss an opportunity
to take advantage
of every single thing he can shoot.
At one point, there was supposed
to be a kind of a fight
between the hells angels
and the townies.
We didn't have enough townies,
so Roger turns to me
and he says,
"you run in there, be a townie."
So I run in,
and within seconds,
the angels were beating
the shit out of me.
All I did was go right down
to the ground
and just prayed for "cut!"
Dem: When work was over,
you never saw Roger.
He didn't go to dinner.
He didn't-- you didn't know what he did.
As close as we were to him
on that picture,
and we were literally
his only friends--
I mean, not that nobody
liked him,
but he was just-- didn't reach out
toward friendship.
And he remained mysterious.
But tell me,
just what is it
that you want to do?
Well, we want to be free.
We want to be free
to do what we want to do.
We want to be free to ride.
We want to be free
to ride our machines
without being hassled
by the man.
And we want to get loaded.
- Crowd: Yeah!
- Man: I second the motion.
I remember asking him,
oh, about the third or fourth day
of the "wild angels"--
I said, "how many of these things
have you done?"
He said, "this is my 100th."
This is 42 years ago,
and this was his 100th movie
he directed.
Oh, my god.
The film was really
an incredible success.
It was the biggest-grossing
independent film
ever made at that time.
Bogdanovich: "The wild angels"
was a tremendous success.
It was a huge hit.
It galvanized the whole
underground culture.
Dern: And that changed
his persona
and changed the perception
of Peter Fonda.
I thought,
"this is wonderful.
This is saving me from becoming
the next Dean Jones for Disney,"
which is what my agents thought--
that I should be that.
Roger felt that
i had helped him
and contributed
something to it.
And he called me
and he said,
"would you like to direct
your own picture?"
And I said, "yes."
He said, "all right.
We have a Russian
science fiction picture.
And aip will buy it,
but they won't buy it
unless I put some women in it.
There's no women in it.
It's all men walking around Venus."
"But what am I supposed
to do, Roger?"
He said, "look at the picture and
just decide where to put the women."
"Okay, sure."
"We've got mamie Van doren
and she'll be one of the women.
Get a couple of other women
and just put them in the picture.
And no sound.
Don't write any dialogue.
I don't want to pay
for sound."
And I had to explain to mamie
that there would be no dialogue.
She said,
"then what do we do?"
I said, "you look meaningfully
at one of the other girls.
And then the other girl
will immediately react.
So you look at her
and the other girl goes...
And goes."
"Telepathy, mamie--
it's telepathy."
We cut this thing together,
screened it for Jim Nicholson
and he said,
"what the fuck is this about?
What are they doing?
They keep looking and then the other--"
"lt's telepathy, Jim."
"Lt's bullshit."
He says, "i don't know what--"
Roger says,
"you have to put voices in."
Meriama, wearie...
"Go get the shells." "Yes."
Ptera is a false god.
Roger is the kind of person
who says--
"do you know how to swim?"
and throws you in the water.
And if you learn to swim
because you don't want
to drown, you're fine.
And if you drown,
that's the end of that.
I think he was alert
that this was a time when things
were beginning to change.
Certainly there weren't
movies being made
reflecting the changes
in the thinking of young people.
And I think that Roger
was alert to that.
What was going on
really was revolutionary.
I smoked pot at work.
- Doel: Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll.
- It was blowing up.
Doel: Vietnam.
Platt: I thought it was
the end of America.
Dern: I looked at this guy
in a cardigan sweater
talking about mayhem
in the streets.
I was probably
the straightest guy
in a fairly wild movement.
Doel: His political views
were becoming increasingly left,
as he said at the time,
"almost communist,"
which always
makes me laugh,
because of course
i don't buy that for a minute,
but I understand what he means.
For someone who seems
so square on the outside,
he was actually a very interesting,
cool, hip director.
I may have felt
at the beginning of the '60s
that I was an underdog,
but as we got into the '60s,
I thought, "hey,
I'm with the new movement."
Nicholson: By now
Roger and I are in sync.
Hey, the man's supporting
my whole life.
How could I not be
in sync with him?
He asked me to write
"the wild angels,"
'cause I was writing by then.
I said, "Roger, you know,
we're pals in this.
Can't you just pay me
a little more than scale?"
If he'd just said,
"all right, scale plus $5,"
I would have relaxed.
No. And I didn't write it.
To write "the trip," though,
he finally said, "all right."
Cut. It's good here.
How was it for second camera?
- Man: Fine here.
- Okay, print it.
Corman: When I decided
to make "the trip" about LSD,
I felt as a director
i cannot make a film about LSD
without trying LSD.
Initially the idea was that
I would take notes
on Roger's trip.
I think he believed
that he would be able
to coherently dictate
notes to me.
How high are you, man?
Can you tell that?
Listen, I think--
I'm afraid.
There's nothing
to be afraid of, man.
I had had a wonderful trip,
a spectacular trip.
I felt, to be fair, I had to have
some experiences
of people who'd had bad trips.
Luckily, Jack Nicholson
was a very good writer
and he knew LSD.
'Cause I was special talent.
Only he and I had actually
taken LSD at the point.
I never did it for fun--
too strong.
I mean, a lot of my friends did,
but, baby, I mean,
what, you want to confront
the face of god literally for fun?
Come on.
I'm Peter Fonda.
We've just finished
making a movie
dealing with the most talked-about
subject of the day-- LSD.
I honestly believe
that it will be
today's most talked-about
motion picture.
Nicholson: Roger's
a serious moviemaker.
He wanted to make
a serious film about LSD,
which had just changed
the culture forever, really.
That's what the movie
is about.
Scorsese: The artistry of the films
really developed.
By the time he did "the trip,"
he really had a sense
of pushing the power
of the image.
What he hit upon in that picture
was interesting,
particularly if you see it
in the full aspect ratio
because it just cuts through
time and space.
It becomes really a beautiful
kind of cinematic montage
and achieves a kind of poetry.
Aip were really concerned
that this was a pro-drug movie
and they would lose money
because of that.
It's easy now.
Wait till tomorrow.
Yeah, well,
I'll think about that tomorrow.
Arkoff and Nicholson
changed the ending
on the picture
without telling Roger.
They froze frame
and did an optical
of broken glass on that.
What is power?
You understand?
He created these guys.
This set me up,
because in "easy rider,"
the first thing we do
is we buy junk in Mexico,
smuggle it across the border,
get a lot of money,
put it in the tank, off we go.
Corman: "Easy rider"
came out of my films
"the wild angels"
and "the trip."
Peter Fonda starred
in both pictures
and Dennis hopper
costarred in "the trip."
That whole thing
came from Roger to me--
take the establishment on.
And since they had never
made a picture,
they wanted me to be
the executive producer.
And I said, "fine."
And I took the idea to aip
because "the wild angels"
and "the trip"
had been very successful.
And in one
unfortunate meeting,
one of the executives at aip
said to Dennis,
"lf you fall more than one day
behind schedule,
we want the right
to replace you."
I could see that Dennis and Peter
were really mad.
Fonda: And I said, "i can't
put that pressure on hoppy.
That's not fair."
And Roger agreed.
Corman: And I said
to this executive,
"he worked perfectly with me
on 'the trip'
and I am positive
he can do this."
And that was not
a good thing to say.
A number of things happened
and the picture moved over
to Columbia.
And aip and I
lost our percentage
of the profits
on one of the most successful
independent pictures ever made.
Oh, what am I gonna do now?
Nicholson: When I went to cannes
with "easy rider"...
Oh, my head. character
came on the screen
and the movie exploded
in that audience.
It just went ka-pow
like it does in rock 'n' roll.
I'm the only person
who ever in real life felt,
"holy shit,
I'm a movie star"--
do you know what I mean?
--And knew.
So that's what the change
felt like.
I experienced it right here.
Roger, if you paid me
over minimum,
you would have had
"easy rider."
Bogdanovich: "Easy rider" was
the beginning of the new Hollywood.
It's hard to imagine
the new Hollywood
without Roger corman.
So many people started
with Roger--
Francis coppola
and Bobby de niro
and Jack Nicholson.
And the list goes on and on.
At the end of the '60s
Hollywood was so desperate.
They didn't know
what to do.
And the young
Roger corman alumni
were there to step
into the breach.
Jack's career took off.
And Peter and Dennis
got deals
at universal
to make their movies.
Well, those are all offshoots
of the university of corman.
Roger was in a perfect position,
having discovered and cultivated
Francis coppola, bogdanovich,
so many other people like that.
I always wondered
why Roger couldn't take
that next step
with those guys.
You had to take that leap. You had to
go from high school to college
or you had to go from college
to grad school.
It was a jump
that Roger never really took.
And that's the one place
that Roger left out of his mix.
And that's why
he's constantly being insulted
by people calling him
the king of the bs, right?
Dante: Roger was never
taken seriously.
He was a schlockmeister
and a guy who did drive-in movies.
He never really got his due,
i don't think.
I mean, even "the lntruder,"
which is one of his best pictures,
it was a movie that was hardly ever
seen anywhere when it came out.
Dern: Every year
at the academy awards,
they give out
a lifetime achievement award.
How they can not have gotten
to Roger corman by now
is disgusting.
And I don't know that they ever will,
because they'd say,
"well, what are the great movies
he made?"
I guess this proves there are
as many nuts in the academy
as anywhere else.
Nicholson: Ls Roger worried about
being underappreciated?
If he is, I'm going over there
tomorrow night.
Shark! Shark!
Cut, cut, cut.
Eli roth: Roger corman isn't
doing it for the awards.
The fans recognize him.
The filmmakers recognize him.
We know who he is
and we appreciate him.
And I don't think he needs
some statue
from some organization that never
liked his movies in the first place
to come out and say,
"we love you."
Julie: From my viewpoint,
everything is going extremely well.
Observing Roger, however, now
as actor/producer...
Kevin, you're aware they're putting
a mic on the girl who's not in the shot?
Maybe the kit should be
just a couple of inches there
so you don't step over it.
No, wait until
she comes here. Stop.
It'll be after they say "action!"
Because the camera's on her
and it's going to come around
and see...
Okay, and we're out of the shot.
He is always noticing
what needs to be fixed,
what is the problem,
but that's the nature of producing.
Okay, so I'm looking here.
And on action, you say,
"there's someone here to see you."
Rolling sound.
Paul w.S. Anderson: You would think
that a man who makes so many films
kind of doesn't really care
about each individual film,
but I think Roger
for each of his movies--
they're like his children,
you know.
And he loves
every single one of them.
And he's so engaged
in every single one of them.
And, you know, the last time
i had lunch with him,
you know, he had to hurry away
'cause he was going back
to the cutting room
of "minotaur."
And it's like,
"you know, Roger..."
They're really--
it's just way too much time
spent on iva.
They're working on her makeup
all the time.
Explain who she
should put it on.
They can't do this stuff
for every shot.
Mary woronov: I'll never forget Julie.
She was, like, amazing.
She was talking about
redecorating her house.
And then she had a child in a crib.
She was raising children,
you know.
And here she was--
she was known
to do movies even cheaper
than Roger corman.
I mean, this woman
was amazing.
The first film that I produced,
i didn't think of it as producing.
I didn't put a name to it.
I just thought,
"oh, this needs to be organized."
Roger did sit with me
for about 45 minutes
and go through what's needed--
the cast,
the crew,
and what the positions were
and a way in which
to Shepherd production through.
But then I thought, "well, he'll be
there every day and I could--"
no, he wasn't
really available.
And there was
this sense I had of,
"he just thinks
i can do this?"
And then I just did it.
But he will recognize
in someone
that he thinks they can do
whatever it is.
And then he just walks away
and they do it.
Corman: I first met Julie
when she answered an ad
for a job as my assistant.
I offered her the job.
She turned down the job,
but she agreed
to have dinner with me.
We began dating and we also
began working together.
Roger had by then
asked me to marry him
and I had said yes. And then he
went off to the Philippines
and I didn't hear
from him for a week.
So I was like,
"i wonder what that means."
So I called him and said,
"are we still getting married?"
He said, "oh, yes.
Did you pick a date?"
And I said,
"well, I was thinking of December
or maybe later
in the spring."
"Oh, definitely December.
Sooner-- better, right?"
I said, "okay.
L just wonder
why you didn't call me."
Well, he didn't call me because
it was a long-distance call,
so it wouldn't have
occurred to him.
But anyway, you know,
getting to know each other.
All right now, everybody, reach
for the nightgown of the lord.
Anybody moves-- you're dead.
Julie: Roger had done
"bloody mama"
with shelley winters
and Bobby de niro.
And, you know, it was
a great success for aip.
And aip wanted another
woman gangster movie.
And so I found this book.
It was the story of a woman
who'd been something
of a tramp, a hobo,
had ridden the boxcars
of the railroads
of the United States
during the depression.
It was her story as a rebel,
as a pre-feminist, as it were,
and as an outlaw.
"Boxcar Bertha"
the first picture
that Julie worked on with me
as co-producer.
It was also the first picture
that Marty scorsese directed.
I met him and he said, "look, I have
a sequel to 'bloody mama.'
it's called 'boxcar Bertha.'
Would you be interested in doing it?"
I said, "absolutely,"
you know.
And "bloody mama"
actually had de niro in it, see?
By the time we got
to Camden, Arkansas,
Marty had sketched
every shot of the picture,
which was all over the walls
of his motel room.
I took out all these drawings,
about 500.
And he looked at the first
20 or 30 or something.
And then he looked, he said, "did you
do this for the entire picture?"
I said, "yeah."
He said, "all right."
He put it away
and he left.
Run, Bertha!
God damn that bitch.
The thing that Roger hated was
when Sam arkoff came in--
'cause he needed Sam because
the budget was too big for him.
And then Sam
kind of took over
and masterminded the release
in a way that Roger
didn't like.
And Roger said,
"I'm never gonna do this again."
And that's when he formed
new world
and he went back to making
$25,000 movies
and worked his way
back up again
just simply so that nobody
could tell him, you know,
how he should cut his movie
or how he should release it.
Roger somehow
is fueled by
outwitting, I would say,
even more than
rebelling against, authority.
He was that way with aip.
I think, actually, it brings out
his creativity and his drive.
It just seems
to fire him up
to just show them
that he will do it himself.
He doesn't need them to tell him
how to do it or what to do.
I decided to start a small
production/distribution company,
a little bit the way aip
had started in the late 1950s.
Roger is a brilliant producer
in terms of knowing
what the market is,
anticipating the trends
and then capitalizing on them.
He was a trendsetter for years.
I mean, he--
in the '60s
he set every trend.
He has the idea--
the original idea
for almost all the films
that are produced
by new world pictures.
He had a somewhat
finite audience.
They weren't expecting things
to be held over.
You know, things played for
two weeks in the grindhouses
and a couple weeks
at the drive-in
and then a new thing came in.
But within that,
you were gonna have
a very loyal audience
of young people.
Announcer: Hollywood boulevard--
the street where starlets are made.
On Monday
candy came to Hollywood.
On Tuesday she lost
her blouse.
On Thursday she massacred
300 rebel soldiers.
On Friday she found out
the bullets were real.
On Saturday
she married Godzilla.
By Sunday she was a star.
Things happen fast
on Hollywood boulevard.
Rated r.
Hello, Hollywood.
The fact that the rating system came
in was a tremendous change.
Now you were allowed to do
things in movies
that you hadn't been
allowed to do before.
You were allowed to show things.
Announcer: What they did to her
in Jackson county was a crime.
Yvette mimieux.
"Jackson county jail,"
where the cops
make their own laws
and the only way out
is murder.
We're cop killers.
There are '70s exploitation pictures
that are really out there.
I mean, they have plot twists
that are like, "whoa,
i didn't see that coming.
I didn't think people did that
in the movies."
Woman was made for man
to hunt.
Dante: Roger certainly took
amazing advantage of that.
Hunters competing for the game.
Set your sights
on the tastiest game,
from new world pictures.
Roger's operation
is an exploitation operation
on almost every level.
He exploits directors.
He exploits writers.
He exploits people in the crafts
who are trying to get established.
But we are also
exploiting Roger.
I think he had a lot of fun
working with these
young people.
And so it was often known
as, you know,
the corman school
of filmmaking.
The first time I met Roger,
this crazy
Roger German-y thing happened
where he said, "okay,
you can write press releases.
Do you think you could write
a screenplay?"
And this had never
really occurred to me,
but I said, "yes."
And he said,
"let me explain.
I'm starting a new company.
It's called
new world pictures.
I need a bunch of pictures
to go into the works very soon."
He wanted a nurse movie,
but he also wanted to crossbreed it
with a prison movie.
Four American nurses, snatched
from their work
in a foreign hospital,
jumped in the jungle,
caught between
a kill-crazed revolutionary
and a sex-crazed major.
Roger says, "exploitation pictures
don't need plots.
But they need sensational things
like girls shooting
filipinos out of trees.
That works."
In new world--
they very often go back
and add action to a picture.
'Cause you'll see
how a rough cut plays,
and Roger almost always
wants you to add
another chase
or at least another explosion.
Rock, rock, rock, rock,
rock 'n' roll high school
rock, rock, rock, rock, rock 'n' roll
high school.
"Rock 'n' roll high school"--
the school where the students rule.
Could your school be next?
We knew the genre notes
that we had to hit.
And if we hit those notes,
what we put in between those notes
was entirely up to us.
"Grand Theft Auto"
is a love story
with cars.
Also it's a comedy...
...with car crashes.
"Grand Theft Auto,"
directed by and starring
Ron Howard.
Well, hell.
We had a very limited number
of extras that we were allowed to have
at the big demolition derby
climactic action scenes.
And I called Roger
asking for more extras
to fill out the stands,
'cause, I said, "this is supposed
to be this huge event.
There's a big riot at the end.
You know, 75 extras
is gonna fill exactly, you know,
1/10 of the stands.
It's gonna look cheesy."
And he said no.
And he could see I was dejected.
And he smiled
and he put his hand on my shoulder
in a kind of fatherly way.
And he said, "Ron, here's what
you need to understand.
You do a good job for me
on my terms
on this movie,
and you never have
to work for me again."
And, well, I didn't.
I certainly wish
that Roger would move out
of the formula film--
the exploitation film.
I guess that he just feels that as long
as he's investing his own money
that he wants it to be surefire.
Carradine: In "death race"
at the very beginning behind us,
there's a city of the future.
And it is so obviously
a painting.
It's almost a cartoon.
And I said that to him
and he said,
"people come to my pictures
looking for camp.
And I'm going to give it to them."
Lf he just violated
this rule of his
of never making a movie
that cost more than $1 million,
you know,
and make one for $1.5 million
or $2 million--
I said, "look, all your pictures
make money.
None of them
go through the top."
And he said,
"yeah, that's true."
And then he went over
and turned off the air conditioner.
Sometimes the movies
were really dreadful
and you had to just sort of camp
them up and make fun of them.
- "Cover girl models."
- And we did-- by the time
we got to "cover girl models,"
we were doing outrageous ad lines--
you know, "they don't need
clothes to strike a pose";
"they're always overexposed
but they're never underdeveloped"--
to the point where the pictures
looked like jokes.
They didn't look like
they were real movies.
They're like movies
in the front of "tropic thunder."
They just didn't look real.
But the audiences never minded.
They were happy.
The limitations of a low-budget film
can work positively
in terms of getting
something spontaneous.
There's no time for rehearsal.
There's no time for
extended discussions
of motivation and character
and so forth.
And indeed there aren't many characters
or motivations in any of the films.
You'll never be a star now,
you little cunt.
Dante: The great thing about
working for Roger was
that every possible obstacle
to making a movie
was thrown in front of you.
Beverly hills police.
And if you could figure out
a way to get around them,
you could make your movie.
At the end credits
of "Hollywood boulevard,"
that background shot
was shot
while the camera crew
was hiding in the bushes
and I was talking
to the Beverly hills police
and explaining that I was just
out here admiring the scenery.
And they said, "well, get back
in your car and drive down the hill."
It's not as bad as John Davis
and having to spend the night in jail
while making "fly me," though.
I think when he called Roger
and he said, "I'm in jail,"
I think Roger said, "well, you know,
that's a good experience.
You should learn from this."
Blossom, honey.
You philandering,
fornicating bastard,
you went off with that skinny honky
for two days
and gonna come back here
and call me honey?
Now wait a minute,
blossom, honey.
I told you I was gonna cut it off
if you tried to pull that shit on me.
We called it "make do."
You know, whatever you can do
to make do, that's what we did.
And from it,
i lived through my stunts.
I look back at it--
would I do them again?
Yes, but more
padding on the head.
Not a lot of women
wanted to do stunts.
All right, everybody,
back 'em up.
Grier: And they couldn't handle guns.
They were afraid of guns.
Sit down on the floor.
Where do you want
to be buried, nigger?
And it's miss nigger
to you.
Grier: And there weren't a lot
of women who wanted to be
tossed around the room
or thrown over a cliff.
And he said,
"let's keep her doing movies.
She loves to do crazy stuff.
Let's set her on fire."
You know, "how many cars
can she crash today?"
They loved that.
He could talk you into, you know,
buying some sand in a desert.
Hey, and it'll taste good, too.
I'm like, "excuse me,
did I just buy
this glass of sand from Roger?"
"The final comedown"--
this year's heaviest
motion picture.
Baby, I'm not bitter.
I was bitter 350 years ago.
I'm violent, you hear me,
god damn it? Violent!
Get hip to this year's winner--
the fight you've been dying for.
Rated r, it's a mother.
Dig it.
I did bring "mean streets"
first to Roger.
And it was the beginning
of the blaxploitation pictures.
And he said, "so the story
is interesting and everything.
It's really interesting.
I can give you
a couple hundred thousand
dollars to do it,
but if you could swing
a little bit
and make it black,
it might be--
we might have something here."
So I thought about it.
I said, "okay, let me think about it."
I wouldn't say no.
I always say yes to these things.
And I walked out and realized
my heart sank
because I realized,
no, they're Italian-Americans.
That's the part of the cultural thing.
It's sicilians and neapolitans
and ancient code that goes back
to the medieval times.
You're a fucking jerk-off.
And I'll tell you
something else, Mikey--
I fuck you right
where you breathe,
'cause I don't give two shits
about you or nobody else.
I said, "that's-- totally not.
I'm not gonna be able to do it."
But because of "boxcar Bertha"
and because of the group
that worked on the film,
I learned how to make the picture
within a certain amount of time.
And we were able
to take the same principles
that we applied to "boxcar Bertha"
and use them for "mean streets."
We wound up shooting
most of it in Los Angeles
because we had that crew and the
corman crew knew how to work.
Dante: Roger's own
personal taste in pictures
is very different from the type
of pictures that he makes.
And also his taste
in directors
tends towards
antonioni and bergman.
Most of our films are domestic.
However, we do distribute
a number of foreign films--
bergman, fellini, truffaut,
now kurosawa
and a number of others.
Roger had a lot of connections
and he had his own
distribution company.
And when the majors
started to give up on foreign films,
Roger talked people like
ingmar bergman and fellini into--
"i can get your picture
on screens
that have never run
a movie of yours,
because I have
a different audience
and a different way
of selling the movie."
And they all
signed off on it.
Ingmar bergman was a seminal
influence on Roger as a director.
"Cries and whispers"
did extremely well
and ingmar bergman
was very pleased.
And then Roger being Roger,
he had the idea
to distribute it
in drive-ins.
And that's what he did.
No one else had ever been able to do
that before, and probably not since.
That was something new
for Roger,
to have such prestige people
associated with him.
And it just went from there.
Roger, when he formed
new world pictures,
was the first company
that was completely bifurcated.
In other words, in one direction
they were doing exploitation films,
but in the other direction
they were doing
the best foreign-language films
that were out there at that time.
The money is secondary
in that particular area.
It's because I feel these films
should get
to a larger audience
than they do.
The new fellini--
Corman: The company
is building very rapidly,
which takes a lot of time.
My wife and I have had
three children
in three consecutive
which takes
a certain amount of time.
We would go home
in the evening
and talk about
the problems of the day.
Then there got to be a time
when we, like, just didn't talk about
what had happened during the day.
But it got to be
a little embarrassing
because Roger didn't really know
what all I was doing
and I didn't really know
what all he was doing.
And I said, "look, Roger,
it's very embarrassing
when people say,
'what movies is Roger making?'
and I don't know.
You know, it is our company,
but there's what you're making
and what I'm making."
And so he said,
"well, I'll tell you what I'm making."
He said,
"I'm making 12 films."
And he couldn't remember
the last two.
So he said, "well, whatever they are,
I'm gonna cancel them."
Reporter: You had made
a statement to the press
that you were getting out
of exploitation films
and into higher-budget films.
What brought you back into it?
In my last years
as a director,
I was climbing out of
the low-budget field
and was doing
more expensive films,
but when I started
my own company,
which was financed
essentially out of my own savings,
I was forced back
to low-budget films
because those were
all I could afford.
New world has had several
profitable years
and we're now starting
to make more expensive films
and we're climbing
once more.
Roger's had such success
with new world pictures
in the past couple of years
that now
people are dying to invest
in his movies.
And if a script is going around town
which has his endorsement on it
and a promise that he will distribute
it, you're in fabulous shape.
There's an old story about
the producer with a successful
Broadway play.
And his friend comes to him
and says,
"here's the way we can fix
the second act."
And the producer says,
"never -- around with a winner."
Roger came bounding
up the stairs.
And he said,
"Ron, you're here.
Have you heard the news?"
I said, "no."
"Great news:
'Grand Theft Auto'--"
which was a very successful
movie for him--
"'Grand Theft Auto'
just sold to CBS.
It's the first time we've ever
sold a movie to the networks--
for $1.1 million."
And I said,
"well, that's great, Roger."
He said, "lt's fantastic.
That makes your 7.5%
look awfully good."
'Cause I had a little profit
participation in "Grand Theft Auto."
I said, "yeah, it does."
He said,
"it makes my 92.5%
look goddamn wonderful."
Open up the sky,
open up the sky
'cause I'm coming up to you,
I'm coming up to you
so send down your wings,
so send down your wings
and let them bring me to you
and bring me to you
get on up, big bird,
to my baby's love
get on up, big bird
to my baby's love
get on up, big bird,
'cause I've got to make it
just get on up, big bird
'cause I've got to make it
get on up, big bird
get on up,
big bird
get on up, big bird
get on up,
big bird
get on up, big bird
just get on up, big bird
get on up, big bird...
Announcer: There is
a creature alive today.
It lives to kill--
a mindless eating machine.
It is as if god
created the devil
and gave him jaws.
The blockbuster movie
of the summer is "jaws,"
the tale of a murderous
white shark...
The record-breaking box office
receipts created by "jaws"...
- ...the movie "jaws."
- Some people who have seen it
are now seeing phantom sharks
every time...
- Steven Spielberg...
- "Time magazine" seldom...
When that movie was released...
Announcer: See it
before you go swimming.
When Steven Spielberg
made "jaws,"
he took a very cormanesque idea--
you know, the killer shark.
I mean, it doesn't get
any more corman than that--
killer shark eating naked girls
as they go skinny-dipping.
Roth: Once people got a taste
of movies like "jaws,"
they really didn't want
the drive-in movies anymore.
They stopped going.
They wanted
to go to the theaters
and be part of some
cultural phenomenon
that everyone was talking about
and everyone was going to see.
And it wasn't about
taking your girl to the drive-in.
And then everything
kind of changed
- on the day "star wars" came out.
- Yeah.
We went to an 11 :00 show
right over at the Chinese
and it was extraordinary.
- When these lines appeared...
- Yeah.
...everybody was astounded.
I mean, they couldn't understand.
"Jaws"-- it was like, okay,
it's a best-seller and we sort of know
that's gonna make a lot of money.
But "star wars" came from nowhere.
And all of a sudden
this gigantic change happened.
It was just like
the "easy rider" change.
It was like going to a revival meeting.
That first screening just was amazing.
When I saw "star wars"
I said, "this is a threat to me
because it means
that the major studios
are beginning to understand
what we've been doing
for $100,000 or so
and they're now doing it
for multi-millions of dollars.
And it's going to be
very difficult for us to compete."
I felt the major studios
are hitting straight into
what has been
my bread and butter
for 20 years
and also the staple
of many of my compatriots.
"Jaws" and then "star wars"
set a whole new standard.
I mean, just the bar
got set higher.
You couldn't really get away
with doing cheap
science fiction films anymore.
I hated "star wars."
Lf "star wars" doesn't make
a ton of cabbage,
you know,
we'd still be having
these weird green flashing lines
going across the screen.
All these guys are coming
from film school.
We're all coming from,
"let us get a job."
He did it first
with horror pictures,
with science fiction pictures
which he did for no money
and, you know, quickly
and unpretentiously.
That's who we are today.
And I miss
the Roger corman versions.
What we see now is the tent poles
of the studios.
The summer
and Christmas tent poles
are very often films
that could have been done
by Roger corman
at a much smaller budget.
But those are the films now
that are attracting
the top filmmakers
and the biggest budgets.
And what has the wonderful
revolution done
for independence
of filmmaking?
Well, we make 12 circuses a year
and very few movies.
When you read that a picture cost
$35 million to make,
what do you think
of that cost?
Actually I think it's wrong.
I think the artist should be able
to express himself
for less money than that.
And the businessman should be able
to invest his money better.
I think from both an artistic
and a commercial standpoint,
it is wrong to spend that much money.
And in addition,
I think there are better things to do
with the money in our society.
- For example?
- You could--
for $30 million or $40 million,
which is what some of these films
are costing,
you could rebuild a portion
of the slums of a city,
- just as one example.
- Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
So you think it's obscene
to spend that much money.
Yes, I would use
that word.
Once the "star wars"
juggernaut thing happened
and the idea that everything
had to be an event movie,
it just became difficult.
The business changed.
He ended up having to go
direct to video with a lot of the stuff.
There's just 100 billion shelves
with 100 billion DVDs
and it's very hard to stick out.
He switched over to making
slasher movies.
And that was a very limited genre,
so it was harder
to make something that was
interesting in that genre.
I met him at a dinner party
in New York in the early '80s.
And I said, "aren't you
gonna do any more?
Are you gonna
direct a few more?"
He said, "i don't think so.
The whole scene is changing--
screwdrivers going
into people's heads.
It just doesn't-- it doesn't--
i don't belong there anymore."
George hickenlooper:
I think he's become more obscure.
And I think that's too bad,
because I think
he really has a very important
legacy in Hollywood.
When a lot of his stuff
went straight to DVD,
I think he lost a little bit
of his mystique and cachet.
Penelope spheeris:
If you walked up to any
20, 25-year-old film buff
and asked if they knew
who Roger was,
I think unfortunately
they probably don't.
Gosh, I mean,
how many other people
have made 400--
385 movies, you know?
If he hadn't done
seven million other pictures,
he'd have
the same reputation
as any of the other artistes.
Snyder: Are the people with whom
you've worked over the years
still friendly with you?
Do they like you?
Do they call you on the phone
now and again and say,
"hi, Roger.
How is it going?"
I think so. I still talk with them.
Careers move in different directions,
but most of them
are still friends of mine.
They use words with you like,
forgive me, "the schlockmeister."
Does that bother you
when they say those things?
- Yes.
- Does it?
- Yeah, it bothers me, right.
- It should. You're just trying...
Roth: Roger corman
made it okay for all of us
to make exploitation movies.
He showed that you
shouldn't be embarrassed.
There's nothing wrong with you
for loving a movie like "piranha."
That it doesn't mean
that you're stupid
for loving a movie that seems like
a stupid exploitation movie.
And that a lot of these films
are very smart,
made with lots
of intelligence
and that it's okay
to have fun at the movies.
I think it's very important
to let the generation of today
know who he is.
We all-- we knew it
almost 40 years ago.
So it's time to reintroduce him
as a director,
but also what he represents
of American entertainment.
He represents
a side of Hollywood
sort of unto his own,
you know.
You know, there are a lot of
Samuel goldwyns,
a lot of Irving thalbergs.
There's really only one Roger corman.
That style of filmmaking,
that attitude,
that approach to filmmaking
really is unparalleled.
You know, I know it's right
to have the tie hand-tied,
but frankly the pre-tied ties
look better
because they're perfect.
I guess the whole idea is
if it's slightly imperfect,
it's considered to be
Julie: Yes.
There's delight in disorder.
- There you go.
- Okay.
We're gonna give the lifetime
achievement award
to Roger corman.
And they've asked me
to be part of it.
I got to call him.
And I said to him,
"the board of governors
of the motion picture academy
has voted to give you
an honorary Oscar
for your life achievement."
And there was silence.
He wasn't--
he goes, "excuse me?
That's unbelievable."
The funny part is, of course,
that Roger is,
you know, the ultimate
fierce independent.
So I told him, "yes," I said,
"i know when you get up there, you're
really gonna stick it to the man."
Roger, if you could stand,
I'd like to offer you a toast.
For all your
progressive influence
in our medium
and for our industry,
it's our honor
to salute you tonight, Roger.
Hear, hear.
The academy thanks you.
Hollywood thanks you.
Independent filmmaking
thanks you.
But most importantly,
for all the wild, weird,
cool, crazy moments you've put
on the drive-in screens,
the movie lovers of the planet
earth thank you.
He is one of the finest
personages in our field.
Roger, please come up
to accept your Oscar.
Needless to say,
I'm delighted
to accept this Oscar
but I'd also like to accept it
on behalf of my wife Julie,
who's been my--
--my producing partner
for many years.
I think that to succeed
in this world
you have to take chances.
I believe the finest films
being done today
are done by the original,
innovative filmmakers
who have the courage
to take a chance
and to gamble.
So I say to you,
keep gambling.
Keep taking chances.
Thank you.
When I think of sort of
sublime moments
in my professional life,
I think of winning
an academy award,
and right next to it
is the wrap party
for "Grand Theft Auto."
Actually everybody
grab for it.
Howard: I'd always dreamed
of making a movie
and Roger let me
make a movie.
And not only did I make it,
I loved it more
than I ever dreamed I might.
Is this sort of like the way you get
an honorary degree at Harvard?
Am I an honorary member
of the Roger corman
school of filmmaking?
You know, I don't know.
I'm actually a little tongue-tied
when I'm with Roger.
I just have--
you know, we're completely
different kind of people.
And I have such
respect for him.
You know,
every once in a while
Roger would come
to my rescue pretty much,
you know, when things were--
nothing was happening.
Polly platt: My husband left me
and the phone stopped ringing,
but the only person
who called me was Roger.
And he said, "you can direct
a picture any time you want.
I'll produce it for you."
So he's the only person
who called me.
Demme: We'll put them
on our Facebook pages.
I mean, there's nobody in there
that he didn't
in the most important way support.
He was, you know,
my main connec--
my lifeblood
to whatever I thought
i was gonna be
3s a person.
And, you know,
i hope he knows
that this is not
all hot air.
I'm gonna cry now.
Not just me,
who's very sentimental,
but these other people
also love him.
corman: Mike, i'vejust
gotten off the phone with syfy.
They're very worried
about the climax of the script.
They believe
the Mayan dance sequence
in the jungle is not big enough.
I'm going to make the stage bigger
and bring in almost a Mayan village
rather than a temple.
He wants
to stay in the game.
To some extent, he does see
making movies as a game,
a game that you can
win or lose.
And staying in
means that you're winning.
These are for "splatter."
- Oh, for "splatter," okay.
- Yes.
He really epitomized what's wonderful
about the American dream--
that you can succeed
no matter what.
Even if you fail,
you can reinvent yourself.
Anderson: If you love it
and you're allowed to keep working,
or you have the energy
to keep working, as Roger does,
there is no retirement age.
No one kind of gives you
your gold watch
and tells you to go home
because your career's over.
Let's go back,
cut on the frame
after she exits the shot--
barn! Right there.
There's an arab Maxim,
which is,
"the dogs bark,
but the caravan moves on."
And this is Roger to me,
as the caravan, you know.
He's making the decision
and moving forward.
And you're saying,
"but wait a minute,
you haven't thought about
what the actors will think.
And what about if the truck
isn't available?"
"We're gonna shoot this
here now."
Consider yourselves officially enrolled
in rock 'n' roll high school.
The facilities are yours.
Do whatever you want.
Do you want to dance
and hold my hand?
Tell me, baby, I'm your lover man
oh, baby
do you want to dance?
Do you want to dance
under the moonlight?
Squeeze me, baby,
all through the night
oh, baby
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you, do you
want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
What the hell?
Do you want to dance
under the moonlight?
Squeeze me, baby,
all though the night
oh, baby
do you want to dance?
Do you want to dance
under the moonlight?
Squeeze me, baby,
all though the night
oh, baby
do you want to dance?
Do you want to dance
under the moonlight?
Squeeze me, baby,
all though the night
oh, baby
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you, do you
want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you
do you want to dance?
- Sir.
- Excuse me, I'm on the phone.
- The piranhas.
- What about the goddamn piranhas?
They're eating
the guests, sir.
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you, do you
want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you, do you
want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you,
do you want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you, do you
want to dance?
Do you, do you, do you
do you want to dance?
Hey, quiet. Quiet, everybody.
Listen. Quiet.