The King of the B's

American movie producer and director, born in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied engineering when he was in college and went to work for 20th Century Fox as a messenger and later as a story analyst. The first movie that we worked on directly was "Highway Dragnet" in 1954--he was the screenwriter and a producer. He made his debut as a director in 1955's "Five Guns West."

Corman is best known as a very fast, very cheap filmmaker. He was capable of making a half-dozen movies a year, usually using leftover film sets, and usually put together for American-International Productions, or AIP. He also drove down costs by utilizing a reperatory company of actors who sometimes even pulled double-duty as production crew members. Even his most expensive movies, like his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with Vincent Price in the 1960s, were made for much less money than the stuff mainstream Hollywood was putting out. He often shot films in less than a week--his record was just two days and a night to put 1960's "Little Shop of Horrors" together.

Despite working so quickly and inexpensively, Corman's work was nearly universally okay. I'm not going to claim that all of his films are works of high art, but they are at least entertaining and very definitely not bad. That alone is quite an accomplishment, considering how awful your average low-budget fantasy movie is. If Corman's flicks had been merely cheaply and quickly produced, he would've made money and been otherwise utterly forgettable. But his movies are quite fun to watch, and that's why he's important.

Some of the movies that Corman has directed include: "The Day the World Ended", "The Beast with a Million Eyes", "It Conquered the World", "Not of This Earth", "Attack of the Crab Monsters", "Teenage Doll", "Sorority Girl", "Rock All Night", "War of the Satellites", "Teenage Cave Man", "Machine-Gun Kelly", "A Bucket of Blood", "House of Usher", "The Little Shop of Horrors", "The Wasp Woman", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "Creature from the Haunted Sea", "The Premature Burial", "Tower of London", "The Raven", "The Young Racers", "The Terror", "The Haunted Palace", "X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes", "The Masque of the Red Death", "The Tomb of Ligeia", "The Wild Angels", "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre", "The Trip", "Gas-s-s-s", "The Red Baron", and "Frankenstein Unbound." I'm not even going to try to list all the movies he's produced--there have been well over 300 of them.

Corman also has the uncanny ability to pick out promising talent and encourage them. He employed some of the biggest names in Hollywood before they became big names, including Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante, Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Kaplan, Paul Bartel, Ron Howard, and scads of others.

He retired from most directing duties in the early '70s to focus on production and on one of his companies, New World, which made low-budget exploitation films, then used the profits made from the low-budget flicks to distribute highbrow art films, including Ingmar Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" and Federico Fellini's "Amarcord."

Corman has also had a number of cameo appearances in films, usually directed by his former proteges. He's had bit parts in "The Godfather, Part II", "The Howling", "Swing Shift", "The Silence of the Lambs", "Philadelphia", "Apollo 13", "Scream 3", and others.

Corman's autobiography is called "How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime." It was published in 1990.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

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