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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Director Roger Corman attends the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Inaugural Governors Awards held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 14, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

In Appreciation: Roger Corman

Since starting in the movie business in the early 1950s, Roger Corman has directed more than 50 features and produced hundreds more; as impressive as the numbers are, they can’t quite capture the speed and intensity with which he put stories on screen. One of the greatest independent filmmakers ever, Corman grew from such low-budget quickies as the original Little Shop of Horrors to more ambitious fare like Masque of the Red Death (a highlight of his acclaimed Poe cycle) while remaining consistently successful at the box office.

Though he worked briefly at Columbia, major studios were too restrictive for Corman (“Every idea they had seemed too ordinary to me. Ordinary pictures don’t make money,” he later explained) and he founded his own studio in 1970, New World Pictures. There and at successor companies New Horizons and Concorde, Corman’s focus shifted to producing – a role that made him a mentor to much of what would eventually be known as “New Hollywood.” The list of filmmakers (including Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Joe Dante and Monte Hellman), writers (Robert Towne, John Sayles) and performers (Jack Nicholson, William Shatner) who got their big break working for Roger Corman is a long one.