Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Roger Corman (1999)
"He certainly defined independent filmmaking in the '60s and '70s. He's always worked completely under the radar of conventional Hollywood and made five or six hundred films in the process, making him the quintessential independent filmmaker."- James Cameron
Stars: Roger Corman
Other Stars: Jonathan Demme, Carl Franklin, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern, Nancy Sinatra, James Cameron
Director: Robert J. Emery
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity, violence)
Run Time: 00h:58m:27s
Release Date: 2002-02-19
DVD ReviewOne can hardly hope to have much of any chance of presenting Roger Corman's lengthy career of hundreds of films over five decades in less than an hour, but The Directors series gives it a shot here. As usual, conversations with the director in focus are complemented by interview footage with some of their colleagues and some film clips. The hard part with Corman is what to omit and who to leave off the interview list. Although best known for his exploitation films (especially cheap and sleazy horror and scifi fare for drive-in consumption), Corman also was responsible for bringing many classic European films, including much of Fellini's later work, to the United States. At the same time, he gave jump starts to the careers of an amazing array of talent: Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Bruce Dern, Peter Fonda, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, William Shatner and Joe Dante are just some of the now A-list names that owe their careers to Corman, and a gratifyingly large number of them take the time to acknowledge Corman's contributions in this program.What's more astonishing is how well accepted many of Corman's films, shot in two weeks or less, are generally regarded today. Although they were treated as schlock when released, they had the virtue of making plenty of money, which no doubt paved the way for more of the same. Indeed, as Corman acknowledges here, the major studios have pretty much taken over the exploitation genre themselves. But they always have a certain quality, no matter how cheaply they were made. It's as if the budgetary constraints helped bring out his creativity and focused Corman's imagination. In his interview segments, Corman is both thoughtful and insightful about his work; even working quickly it's clear that he was always thinking about how he was going to accomplish his work: he was definitely no hack.The film clips tend to be mostly excerpts from trailers, rather than clips as such. This is unfortunate, because the quality of trailers is usually rather poor, in comparison to the pictures themselves. Clips are included from Death Race 2000, Deathsport, Bucket of Blood, Fall of the House of Usher, Big Bad Mama, Little Shoppe of Horrors, The Intruder, The Raven, The Wild Angels, Humanoids from the Deep, Caged Heat, Full Fathom Five, Fire on the Amazon and Frankenstein Unbound.Corman's influence today is undeniable; even his earliest work churned out on a dime is still a source for mainstream Hollywood, witness the recent blockbuster status of the remake of Corman's 1955 The Fast and the Furious. Between the films he made and the talent he discovered, Corman had a huge impact on American film. This documentary can barely scratch the surface, but it's a good introduction to the man's career.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B
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Image Transfer Review: The interview segments look fine, with good color and decent black levels. The film clips are all transferred full-frame or pan & scan, which in particular diminishes Corman's Poe films. The trailers look rather poor, though, especially in comparison to films that have been released on DVD in pristine condition. There is some minor video artifacting, as to be expected, but nothing terrible.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The interviews and film clips are intelligible throughout, though there is substantial hiss and noise during the film clips and trailers. These are also present but to a much lesser extent in the interview segments. The voiceover occasionally has a weird echo to it, but in general the sound is passable.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Extras Review: Other than a weblink to the studio's newsletter, the only extra is a two-screen filmography that is almost laughable when one thinks of the quantity of films that Corman has made. They might as well not have bothered. Chaptering is the usual 8 stops, which is ok. though a shade on the thin side.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsAn all-too-brief look at the incredibly prolific Roger Corman. While the video and audio transfers aren't the best, the content is good and this makes a decent introduction.
Mark Zimmer 2002-02-21