When I read the news the other day that Roger Corman was selected to receive an Honorary Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I was kind of surprised. Not because I couldn’t believe Roger Corman would be given an Honorary Academy Award but because I’d have sworn they’d already done so years ago. Apparently not. Talk about an honor long overdue.
Roger Corman began his directing career with 1955’s Swamp Women and last sat in the director’s chair for 1990’s Frankenstein Unbound, but he still remains active as a producer, such as his forthcoming Syfy production DinoShark. As one of his assistants once told me, “He’ll be making movies until the day he dies.”
If any of you are wondering why they would bestow an Oscar, Honorary or otherwise, upon a man whose cinematic canon includes the likes of It Conquered the World and The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (review here), you obviously don’t know much about Corman’s prolific career or the careers he helped launch.
Without Roger Corman’s eye for young talent, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, John Sayles, Paul Bartel, Gale Anne Hurd, Joe Dante, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Robert DeNiro (just to name a few) may have never gotten their big break. Roger Corman has had more of an influence on the direction of cinema than we’ll probably ever fully realize.
The only disappointment is that the 83-year-old Corman’s Honorary Oscar presentation will not occur during the main broadcast next year (scheduled for Sunday, March 7th, 2010) but instead at the Governor’s Ball in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 14th. Brief clips of his acceptance will then be broadcast during the Oscar telecast, sandwiched somewhere in-between shrill musical numbers and the montage saluting the great montages of film.
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