Director Roger Corman works out a scene of The Wild Angels with Peter Fonda, observed by assistant Peter Bogdanovich.
My heart broke when I saw this in the documentary. He’s talking about director Roger Corman, who - fortunately - is still alive. Corman was one of the first people to trust Nicholson’s talent for acting, welcomed him in his ‘factory’ and offered him his first role as a protagonist in The Cry Baby Killer.
Nicholson made his film debut in a low-budget teen drama The Cry Baby Killer, in 1958, playing the title role. For the following decade, Nicholson was a frequent collaborator with the film’s producer, Roger Corman. Corman directed Nicholson on several occasions, most notably in The Little Shop of Horrors, as masochistic dental patient Wilbur Force, and also in The Raven, The Terror, and The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
One of Jack Nicholson’s Earliest Headshots.
My heart broke when I saw this in the documentary. He’s talking about director Roger Corman, who - fortunately - is still alive. Corman was one of the first people to trust Nicholson’s talent for acting, welcomed him in his ‘factory’ and offered him his first role as a protagonist in The Cry Baby Killer. So maybe Jack was just touched because Corman has been so important to his life and career.
Long Live Jack Nicholson!
Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (Anchor Bay) profiles Roger Corman, the legendary director and producer who helped launch the careers of some of the greatest actors and filmmakers of the last five decades. Alex Stapleton’s documentary is an entertaining, zippy tour through his career, framed with behind-the-scenes footage from the production of Dinoshark, one of his SyFy Channel original films, and an affectionate portrait of the most unlikely filmmaking rebel of his time (“I was probably the straightest guy in a pretty wild movement,” he says of his relationship to the counterculture). And if it doesn’t offer anything new to our understanding of Corman, as filmmaker, producer, or person, it nicely encapsulates his legacy and his philosophy and reminds us just how savvy and thoughtful a filmmaker he was and is. Even while making films like Dinoshark.
This is the second theatrical documentary feature about Corman—the first, Hollywood’s Wild Angel, was made almost 35 years ago (which alone gives an idea of the scope of his career)—and it appears to borrow some archival interviews from that film to mix in with new interviews from the likes of Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Pam Grier, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich, and a lot of other folks. William Shatner talks about making The Intruder (the only Corman film to ever lose money?). Polly Platt tells us that Corman offered her a chance to direct if she wanted to. And Nicholson tears up recalling just how many opportunities that Corman gave him in his formative years.
Where Stapleton does himself credit is acknowledging that the great span of his accomplishments, from knocking out cheap monster movies to distributing films such as “Cries and Whispers” and “Amarcord” in the U.S. (including introducing them to drive-ins!), from giving directors Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich and many others their first shot at making commercial features to recycling standing sets with scripts cobbled together overnight, are not contradictions in a career. They are definitions of a career. On Blu-ray and DVD, with a smattering of supplements, including 12 minutes of extended interviews and a 15-minute compilation of “Messages to Roger” from the interview subjects.