In this series we look at the past 100 years of cinema as seen through ten of the industry’s most fruitful actor/director partnerships. Today, we examine how Roger Corman and Vincent Price’s films shaped the 1960s.
A film set is a busy place and every movie relies on the efforts of many different people. On top of that, every time you begin work on a film you’re entering a new workplace. In those conditions, a familiar face can be a welcome sight.
There are plenty of reasons film-makers might reunite. There could be a mutual recognition they bring the best out of one another. It might make sense for the biggest action director to keep working with the biggest action star. It may be an order from the studio, believing the pairing is what the public wants to see.
Film history is littered with director-actor pairings that were more than the sum of their parts. It’s impossible to decide on the best but, in this series, we’ve decided to pick a pair for each of the past ten decades.
Each duo made at least three films together in that time, although some collaborations lasted longer. Put together, they tell a story of cinema during the past 100 years.
For the fifth article in the series, we look at how two B-movie icons shaped Hollywood’s next generation in the 1960s…
How Roger Corman and Vincent Price’s films shaped 1960s cinema
Films made: The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1960), Pit And The Pendulum (1961), Tales Of Terror (1962), Tower Of London (1962), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque Of The Red Death (1964), The Tomb Of Ligeia (1964)
Another pairing that frequently worked with a third wheel. In this case, it was a (very) posthumous collaboration with Edgar Allan Poe. Of the eight films Corman and Price made in the 1960s, all but one were based on Poe’s writing. The exception – Tower Of London – didn’t stray too far from familiar ground as Price played a Richard III haunted by the ghosts of those he had killed.
Both men were incredibly prolific but Corman in particular was shown little respect by Hollywood at the time. Although frequently commercially successful as a director and producer, Corman’s films were regarded as cheap B-movies, aimed at the lowest common denominator and unworthy of serious consideration.
Hollywood culture was about to undergo a sea change at the end of the 1960s, however, with the dawn of the so-called New Hollywood. Corman played a big role in the emergence of some of New Hollywood’s brightest stars.
Corman provided early opportunities for the likes of Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola and writer Robert Towne, who wrote Corman and Price’s final Poe film, The Tomb Of Ligeia.
This younger generation would move from the ‘prestige’ film-making model revered by Old Hollywood.
Instead, they embraced the B-movie material that was Corman’s wheelhouse. These new film-makers would prove gangster movies (Bonnie And Clyde, The Godfather), or thrillers (Jaws) could be as artistic as any other genre.
Corman’s legacy extended beyond New Hollywood. Directors such as Jonathan Demme and James Cameron, who would define the blockbusters that came after, got started thanks to Corman.
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