Gary Collinson selects his Five Essential Roger Corman Protégés…
Often described as the “King of the B-Movies” and with over 350 credits to his name, low-budget filmmaker and producing powerhouse Roger Corman has enjoyed one of the most prolific careers in Hollywood. Corman has earned a reputation for providing breaks to up-and-coming talent, many of whom have since went on to enjoy extraordinary levels of critical and commercial success. Graduates of this ‘Corman Film School’ include a number of Academy Award winners (with Corman having recently joining the prestigious club after receiving an honorary Oscar last month), such as the following Five Essential Roger Corman Protégés…
5. Jonathan Demme
The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme began working for Corman in 1971 as a writer / producer before helming three exploitation flicks – Caged Heat (1974), Crazy Mama (1975) and Fighting Mad (1976) for New World Pictures. After leaving Corman’s tutelage, Demme went on to direct a further eight films – including comedies Something Wild (1986) and Married to the Mob (1988) – before hitting gold in bringing Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter to the screen with his 1991 Thomas Harris adaptation. Two years later he directed Tom Hanks to his first Academy Award in Philadelphia, while more recent releases include remakes The Truth About Charlie (2002) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).
4. Ron Howard
After gaining recognition as an actor in American Graffiti (1973) and the classic TV series Happy Days, Ron Howard moved into Corman territory in 1976 as the lead in Eat My Dust before making his directorial debut with chase comedy Grand Theft Auto. Grossing $15m on a $600k budget the film set him on his path towards the Hollywood elite, directing a number of popular 80s movies including Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988) and Parenthood (1989) before shifting towards more dramatic material in the early 90s. Receiving a Best Director Oscar for 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, Howard has also formed a solid partnership with Tom Hanks, teaming up for critically acclaimed hits Splash (1984), Apollo 13 (1995), The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels & Demons (2009).
3. James Cameron
Self-proclaimed “King of the World” James Cameron started out working on models and effects for Corman’s studio before back-to-back success with sci-fi classics The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986) saw him established as a major filmmaking force. Cameron followed this up with two Arnie-headlined mega-hits T2: Judgement Day (1991) and True Lies (1994) before shattering global box-office records (and matching Ben Hur’s record eleven Academy Award wins) in 1997 with Titanic. Returning this month with the 3D spectacular Avatar, Cameron is also the subject of Trevor Hogg’s in-depth profile which you can read right here.
2. Francis Ford Coppola
Legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola made his feature debut as writer-director of the Corman-produced shocker Dementia 13 (available to watch in our Movies For Free! section), before embarking on an incredible run of success in the 1970s. After winning a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Patton (1971), Coppola went on to gain fame, fortune and a host of awards with The Godfather (1972), The Conversation, The Godfather Part II (both 1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979). Later ventures include a pair of S.E. Hinton adaptations in 1983 (The Outsiders and Rumble Fish), along with The Godfather Part III in 1990 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992. His American Zoetrope studio also helped launch the career of George Lucas, with Coppola serving as producer on early efforts THX-1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973).
1. Martin Scorsese
Arguably the greatest living American director (although a certain Mr. Spielberg could have something to say about that), Martin Scorsese had directed one feature (1968’s Who’s That Knocking at My Door) before helming the Corman exploitation film Boxcar Bertha in 1972. Scorsese then went on to churn out a string of cinematic classics with actor Robert De Niro including Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995). In later years Scorsese has favoured Leonardo DiCaprio as a leading man with DiCaprio starring in his last three films – Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006), along with the upcoming Shutter Island (2010). After years of being overlooked by the Academy, Scorsese finally received a long overdue Best Director Oscar for The Departed at the 79th Academy Awards in 2007.
Watch Roger Corman movies for free:
The Fast and the Furious (1955)
Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
The Last Woman on Earth (1960)
The Intruder (1962)
Dementia 13 (1963)
Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your comments on the list…