Books #1: Corman at ya!

There’s a meme circulating, and rather a good one, in which bloggers name the ten film books that exerted the greatest influence on them. It’s a voluntary meme, but it’s so seductive — one wants to pay tribute to those things that transformed one, like a sort of cinematic Charles Atlas pamphlet, into a bulging MAN.

I’m cheating in all kinds of ways with my list, because I think enough has been said about Hitchcock-Truffaut, and I want to be interesting, and I’ve probably paid more than sufficient homage to A Pictorial History of Horror Movies (though i still have plenty more to watch from that one). But anyhow ~

5106_562076754361_284001094_3678669_1729374_nFiona and I with newly signed book.

1) How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime — Roger Corman (with Jim Jerome) delivers most of Corman’s best anecdotes, and much of the lecture he would give his young proteges, which is full of practical and artistic wisdom. (“The eye is the organ most used in movie-watching. If you can’t interest the eye, you’ll never engage the mind.”)  And he secures quotes from these guys which make up about a third of the book:

MARTIN SCORSESE: He once said, “Martin, what you have to get is a very good first reel because people want to know what’s going on. Then you need a very good last reel because people want to hear how it all turns out. Everything else doesn’t really matter.” Probably the best sense I have ever heard in the movies.”


Roger Corman’s autograph; “Pen Emm.”

The book is also very funny, as in the stuff about shooting TEENAGE CAVEMAN (with Robert Vaughn, later “remade” by Larry Clark), which Corman is very insistent was called PREHISTORIC WORLD when he made it.

BEACH DICKERSON: I must be the only person who played three death scenes and attended his own funeral in the same movie. I had to be the guy who drowns in the Sucking Sands, as the tribe called them. It was actually a rather scummy jungle part of an arboretum in Pasadena. Then we got to Bronson and we’re filming the funeral and Roger says, “What are you doing here?” and I say, “Roger, this is my funeral. The tribe is grieving over me.” He says, “No one will recognise you. Play a tom-tom at the funeral.” Then he asks me to be the Man from the Burning Plains who rides into the tribe’s land, drops off the horse, and dies. “What about the stuntman?” I ask. “Put Beach in the stranger’s outfit,” he yells, and they drape me up looking like General Grant with a bearskin rug and a big black wig.

Then we go to the big bear hunt scene. “Who do you have for the bear?” I ask Roger. “You,” he says, and they bring me this huge bear-skin suit. “How the hell am I going to play a bear?” I ask him.

“How do I know?” he says.

“But Roger, this is insane.  I’m no stuntman. I’m just a fucking half-assed little actor.”

“Don’t make problems. Just do it.” The true Roger Corman speaks up. So after a couple of these takes where I come down this hill with my head hanging between my legs it’s 150 degrees inside this fucking bearsuit and I’m dying. I get down the hill, he yells, “BEAR, STAND UP!” I stand up. “BEAR, GROWL!” So I growl. He goes, “MEAN, BEAR, MEAN!” I growl louder, scratch the air with my deadly paws. “MEANER, BEAR, I WANT YOU MEANER!” he yells.

I’m going nuts inside this suit, growling and flailing, and then he yells to the rest of the extras, “Okay, tribesmen, KILL  THAT FUCKING BEAR!” and thirty guys jump on me, take me down, and beat the shit out of me.

More soon!

15 Responses to “Books #1: Corman at ya!”

  1. Beach Dickerson was quite a character. Tried to get in touch with him when I was writing Open Secret but to no avail. He was at one time famous in certain circles for “introducing” young gentlemen to older ones interested in “furthering their careers.”

  2. Wow. Seems to have gone into real estate, one assumes he’s done OK for himself. Maybe one day he’ll tell his story…

  3. Tell his story from beyond the grave? Very Corman.

    Meanwhile. . .

    It’s Gloria’s Birthday

  4. Happy Birthday Gloria! 99 already? Careful with those candles!

    How I crave that Titanic handbag she had at the Oscars.

    Didn’t realise Beach was deceased. A seance does seem like a smashing idea though…

  5. Arthur S. Says:

    One more year and she’ll be with Manoel de Oliveira’s merry centurions club.

  6. That should probably be “centenarians”, but centurions sounds much more impressive. Bad-ass, even.

  7. Gloria working with Manoel sounds like a teriffic idea.

  8. Arthur S. Says:

    In cricket, a batsman who scores 100 runs is called a centurion.

    Centenarian is more appropriate but centurion is definitely bad-ass and there is a precedent for it, sort of.

    Gloria Stuart should definitely work with Manoel. He’s worked with Deneuve, Mastroianni, Piccoli, Irene Papas, Stefania Sandrelli and Gloria Stuart would be perfect after that.

    It’s 4th of July, happy independent’s day, for whatever it’s worth.

  9. Looking at Corman’s scrawl inside your book, I think it appears he stacked the C on top of the o, thus making it look like an e. In his first name he just dispensed with the “og” entirely, and we’re left with a half-baked R with an “er” at the end.
    Guy Budziak, handwriting expert
    (in his off-hours)

  10. Thanks, Mr Graphologist. So it really says “Rer Corm”. Now what does it tell us about his personality?

    I like the idea of a centurion movie. I also like the idea of randomly gathering together a bunch of people with the same birthday (IMDb is good for this) and commanding them to collaborate on a movie. Today we could have Katherine Helmond, Eva Green, Huey Lewis and Robbie Robertson. I’d definitely watch that!

  11. I’ve just checked my signed copy of 100 Movies and it’s got pretty much the same signature except for a few more peaks and troughs. I think it defines Mr Corman as a man in a hurry, every day, all the time.

  12. Yeah, he signs fast, and he uses a bookies’ pen to save on ink.

  13. That’s a great anecdote. Some quietly perverse part of me feels that this is how all movies should be made.

    I also concur on the IMDb birthday movie idea. Today we’d have Bill Cosby, Topher Grace, and Michelle Rodriguez, among others. With Brian Grazer as producer.

  14. I think I’d much rather see dcairns’ movie…

  15. Today’s movie would be a Cameron Crowe film with Harrison Ford, Patrick Stewart, and Cheech Marin. Thus enabling me to avoid all of them at once.

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