Thursday, March 29, 2012


There hasn't been a proper documentary about Roger Corman since Christian Blackwood's 1978 ROGER CORMAN: HOLLYWOOD'S WILD ANGEL, made at the height of New World Pictures' production schedule. Alex Stapleton's new "Corman In Winter" documentary shows the California summer of his outstanding 50+ year career still in full swing, though it reveals some pending insecurities about his dwindling recognizability factor among today's young people. It's unlikely that this film is going to attract anyone who doesn't already know Corman's name, but they would be well educated and entertained by it. Those who already venerate Corman -- obviously, anyone reading this -- will feel enormously grateful to Stapleton for giving due to a filmmaker whose smiling example has done more than any other to decide the course of the contemporary motion picture.

Now in his early 80s, Corman is shown to be as sharp and active as ever, supervising the set of DINOSHARK, driving the edit of another picture in production, and accepting his honorary Academy Award for his lifetime's achievement in 2009. As the present tense of his career unreels, he, his wife and production partner Julie, his brother Gene (who co-produced his 1962 film THE INTRUDER), and an all-star cast of commentators discuss his life and filmography, which is illustrated with a barrage of film clips whose collective energy that can only be called rollicking.

Dick Miller, Jonathan Haze and Paul Blaisdell associate Bob Burns discuss the 1950s era, which is given the highly unusual boost of generous input from Jack Nicholson, who surprisingly gives the film its emotional backbone, actually breaking down in tears of gratitude in one of the great moments of American documentary filmmaking. The 1960s are reported by longtime Corman associate Frances Doel, William Shatner, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern (speaking from a barber's chair) and Peter Bogdanovich (curiously credited as director of "GILL WOMEN OF VENUS"); the 1970s by Martin Scorsese, Allan Arkush and Joe Dante, Ron Howard, Pam Grier, Jonathan Demme, a non-essential one-liner from Robert De Niro (included for marquee value - Corman would approve) and others from clips taken from handsomely remastered clips from the Blackwood film; and the subsequent periods feature commentary from Gale Anne Hurd, David Carradine, Penelope Spheeris, Eli Roth and others.

One could remark that the film nods to the fact of how many Corman associates have passed on (as have several of the interviewees), and how many still living (James Cameron and Sylvester Stallone, for example) seem ungracious in their absence, but the end credits thank a lengthy scroll of interviewees who did not make the final cut, and one must admit the 91-minute film doesn't overstay its welcome by a second. The disc further supplements the running time with extended interview segments, some "Messages to Roger" and a trailer.

Viewed on Anchor Bay Entertainment Blu-ray. Also available on DVD and as an Amazon Instant Video item.


  1. ...I so agree with your reaction to seeing Jack moved to tears and I was also moved by Polly Platt and what she said about Roger's out reach to her...


  2. Great documentary. Very well produced with a nice range of old and new material. Nice to see Jonathan Haze after all these years.