Sunday, February 16, 2014

Corman's World

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The weather lately has let up some in Texas, which I'm very grateful for.  I don't know how they manage the cold up north.  I can take it for a while, but the overcast gloom and clouds was starting to get to me.  So I stayed inside unless I just had to get out.  I've also been experiencing a weird sore throat on the left side of my head and also some accompanying ear pain on the same side.  I asked an oral surgeon about this, but he was sort of baffled by it as well.  I thought maybe it's just a cold, so who knows?  If it doesn't clear up in a bit, I'll have to get it checked out.  Life is weird.

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The other night I caught the documentary on Roger Corman, Corman's World.  It's pretty good if you've ever seen any of his films.  Most are pretty low budget, and most also have a certain, cheesiness to them, but there's also some entertainment value there as well.  He gave a lot of famous actors their first break in the business, like Jack Nicholson, and also did the same for a lot of budding directors, that went on to become quite famous in the industry.  A lot of those same folks appear on the documentary to either talk about their experiences working with Corman, or about other facets of the industry.  It was a pretty breezy watch, and a lot of fun.  Trivia:  I had no idea that Roger Corman had made around three hundred films.   I also had no idea that William Shatner starred in his first serious film, made about race relationships. 

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I also ran across a short documentary on William Friedkin on Youtube, where he name drops a few of his favorite films.  I've enjoyed some of his films to various degrees.  I say my favorite ones are:  The Exoricst, The French Connection, and Sorcerer, and to a lessor degree, Bug.  Bug was taken from a stage play, if I remember correctly, so it was sort of a small scale film, but I did enjoy it.  It is about the decent into madness and also deals with conspiracy theory.  It's sort of an acquired taste, but still worth a watch.  The first three films, however, The Exorcist (horror), The French Connection (crime), and Sorcerer (suspense) are all well worth checking out, if you've not seen them. 

Sorcerer  is a remake of the film, The Wages of Fear.  I didn't know that when I first saw it in the theater long ago, I was just taken in by the film's poster artwork, and wondered what the film could have been about.  Plus it starred Roy Scheider, who I've always enjoyed as an actor and the soundtrack was by the German electronic band, Tangerine Dream, and that was enough to pull me into the cinema.   Turns out the title of the film is pretty misleading--I was expecting something like science fiction or dark fantasy, but I think the film about some fugitives driving a truck full of nitroglycerine to help put out an oil fire, was very suspenseful and one of my favorite films still today. 


At 11:52 AM, Blogger SFF said...

Very cool. I have always enjoyed William Friedkin myself El Vox.

I am absolutely over the moon they are releasing Sorcerer on Blu-Ray in just a few short months.

I have never seen this film, but like you - love Roy Scheider too. So the combination of director/actor and suspense film bodes well for me and on Blu-Ray no less.

Your vote of confidence for that film has me as excited as ever.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

You know Corman helped a lot of folks break into the business and helped a lot of careers get off the ground. I respect him for that. He also was a producer on some very good genre films. But as a director, he was terribly hit or miss - and mostly miss.

Usually when he had to stretch his budget out, his movies would end up meandering around with long dialogue scenes that didn't add anything to story or characters. Or worse, long scenes of people walking, and walking and walking some more. I know he filmed this stuff on the fly, and there wan't time to really flesh some of this stuff out, but man - his movies can be deadly dull.

So I'm willing give the man credit where it is due. But when I see people praise his directorial skills I have to disagree. I mean, have these people ever watched "Gunslinger"?

Friedkin is someone I need to watch more movies from. I made the mistake of seeing an interview with him talking about the "Exorcist", and he was very very full of himself. Basically saying (without actually saying it) that he was brilliant in his execution of the film. Left a bad taste in my mouth. But I can't deny that "French Connection" is excellent and "The Exorcist" is very effective (even though devil possession movies don't do much for me). "Sorcerer" sounds intriguing. I'd heard or "Wages of Fear", but I'm sure Friedkin could bring some very interesting things to the movie. I'll need to check it out.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

I think you'll both enjoy Sorcerer. It's a pretty great adventure film. The climax with the Tangerine Dream score and the double images showing Scheider's character's delirium, is great. Scheider was in so many great films, one of my fave actors. Since I saw Sorcerer first, I haven't yet brought myself to watch The Wages of Fear, though it's touted to be a five out of five stars films--ie. a classic.

Critics panned Sorcerer for that reason, but since I saw it first, and also since Scheider stars in the film and the TD score, I know I'll be a bit letdown by the original. I guess we like what we like.

There's a funny anecdote in the Corman doc where Jack Nickolson relates a story about one of the films he starred in and help finish for Corman. I forget the title, but Corman started writing and making the film,then went on to do something else, and asked Jack to finish it, which he agreed, and he said, I still have no idea what that movie was about. :)

I think I'd agree, Corman's films missed the mark more than had hits, but he always made money, and that's what kept him in Hollywood. Either way, the doc was a lot of fun.


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