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Did Roger Corman deserve his honorary Oscar?

November 27, 2009 |  9:06 am

93068273 Rock scribe and genre movie writer extraordinaire David Konow directed me toward this lively debate on Cinematical in regard to whether producer-director Roger Corman's long and colorful career merited his honorary Oscar at the 2009 Governors Awards ceremony on Nov. 14. Both sides of the argument have their points -- yes, Corman's cinematic output has frequently lacked a certain degree of polish (or taste), but for many viewers, they're also pure, unfettered entertainment, and he's served as the launching pad for countless top directors, writers and producers (the list is endless, but a basic rundown includes Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme and James Cameron). 

My two cents, for what they're worth: I fall on the side of Corman deserving the Oscar. In addition to the reasons mentioned, his New World Pictures distributed numerous arthouse features in addition to its drive-in fare during the 1970s, including films by Akira Kurosawa ("Dersu Uzala"), Francois Truffaut ("The Story of Adele H.") and Ingmar Bergman ("Autumn Sonata") in a period where these established legends were struggling to find a foothold in the American market. I'd also argue against the notion that Corman's directorial output lacks an aesthetic; his Poe adaptations, especially "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Tomb of Ligeia," are fairly drenched in atmosphere for such budget efforts. And I'd offer this final thought: Corman's films, both good and bad, have inspired and influenced countless writers, directors, producers, makeup artists, actors and other creative and technical talent to look at the process of making a movie as less of an insurmountable hurdle that can be overcome only by the insider elite but as a series of challenges that anyone with ingenuity, determination, and desire can surpass. And for that alone, the man deserves his Oscar. 

Having produced "Death Race 2000" is a pretty good reason too.

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Roger Corman. Credit: Getty Images.

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