photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
INDEPENDENT FILM PRODUCER / DIRECTOR ROGER CORMAN is a SINGULAR HOLLYWOOD legend whose INDUSTRY influence and cultural impact is difficult to sum up neatly, but that is exactly what the recent hour-long documentary ROGER CORMAN: THE POPE OF POP CINEMA (CALIFORNIA PROD, 2021) does.
in a sense, its SUCCINCT overview of his career mirrors that of the FRUGAL no-nonsense aesthetics of his moving pictures, which are often HIGH ON CONCEPT and LOW ON PRODUCTION VALUE. given that he funded his own pictures, CORMAN was incentivized to cut cost where he could, allowing for more films to be created and thus opportunities for profit. his talent pool was often YOUNG and CHEAP and subjects covered exploited the YOUTH CULTURE of the day with MONSTER, SCI-FI, HORROR and SKIN PICTURES. such efforts have rendered CORMAN very much one of the core ORIGINATORS of EXPLOITATION FILMS writ large. his BUSINESS MODEL also allowed for the initial directing opportunities (again, because they were CHEAP) for the likes of such later CELEBRATED talents as PETER BOGDANOVICH (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW), MARTIN SCORSESE (MEAN STREETS, RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS), RON HOWARD (A BEAUTIFUL MIND, APOLLO 13), FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA (THE GODFATHER, APOCALYPSE NOW), JAMES CAMERON (AVATAR, TITANIC), JONATHAN DEMME (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), JOE DANTE (GREMLINS) and JOHN SAYLES (PASSION FISH, LONE STAR). behind the camera, much of his staff were WOMEN, an ANOMALY in HOLLYWOOD where employment skewed WHITE, MALE and OLD. this is INTERESTING given the SEXPLOITATION FILMS CORMAN produced in contrast to the more MUTED, MAINSTREAM fair out of the studio system during the late 1960s and especially throughout the 1970s.
the EXTREME THRIFTINESS of CORMAN is stuff of HOLLYWOOD LEGEND, but seemingly his lasting contribution to AMERICAN CULTURE is the entrepreneurial mythology surrounding the individual with an INNOVATIVE idea in AMERICA has the potential to disrupt an INDUSTRY. his example paved a new lane in the movie business for others to mimic and exploit in later generations, but in today's late stage CAPITALIST ENVIRONMENT it all feels a bit like an ANACHRONISM from a bygone era. today's DIGITIZED and soon to be artificial intelligence-enabled MARKETPLACE has seemingly cornered the market opportunities for new entries who would be swallowed whole or drowned in their infancy before making a bid for economic relevance. my thought is not so much about CORMAN and his innovations, but on what that sort of ICONOCLASTIC FIGURE would be like in today's digital media and highly interactive MARKET LANDSCAPE.
truth is i dont know. but at least this film got me thinking about it.