It takes a while, but sometimes Oscar gets it right.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will finally give a special Oscar to filmmaker and producer Roger Corman.
For those not familiar with Corman, he’s the man who made tons of “B” movies over the years —— ranging from those Edgar Allan Poe classics made into scary low-budget flicks from the early 1960s starring Boris Karloff, to hippie biker and druggie movies from the 1960s like “The Wild Angels” and “The Trip,” to such tasty treats from the sexy 1970s like “Caged Heat,” “Candy Stripe Nurses,” and “Big Bad Mama” — with the forever sexy Angie Dickinson.
Corman was even there in the 1950s with low-budget creature features like “The Wasp Woman,” “Beast with a Million Eyes” and, who could forget, “Attack of the Crab Monster.”
But Corman’s real claim to fame is that he was the mentor of some pretty interesting actors and filmmakers over the years.
Jack Nicholson got his first big break in the Corman low-budget produced “Little Shop of Horrors” as the twisted patient who couldn’t get enough pain inflicted by an equally-demented dentist.
Besides Nicholson, other famous actors got big breaks in Corman flicks, like Robert DeNiro (“Bloody Mama”) and Charles Bronson (“Machine-Gun Kelly”).
Ron Howard’s first film directing job —- one “Grand Theft Auto” — was produced by Corman.
Howard wasn’t the only Oscar-winning director to break out of the Corman stable: Corman also gave future directors Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme their starts.
In all, Corman has 350 movie credits to his name.
And none of them would ever be nominated for an Oscar in any category.
But for anyone who enjoys a bad movie that entertains, Corman’s your guy.
Corman has been called “The Orson Welles of the Z-movie,” but even Welles couldn’t top “Citizen Kane.”
Corman never had to worry about living up to such a high standard he set for himself.
The body of work alone (although not a “Casablanca” in one of them) would justify the Oscar. Recognizing him for nurturing such talent has long been overdue.
The record might not seem impressive, maybe 12 or so great actors and fimmakers out of hundreds who worked with Corman. But those dozen are the pantheon of the profession.
If there wasn’t a “Little Shop of Horrors” there may never have been a “Five Easy Pieces” or a “Chinatown.”
If not for “Boxcar Bertha” there might not have been a “Taxi Driver” or “Raging Bull.”
Corman didn’t make the best movies —- in fact some of them are downright horrible —- but his knowledge of talent has been shown to be unequalled.
Also getting a special Oscar is the great actress Lauren Bacall.
Bacall, she of the raspy voice and those feline eyes, has lived a life that’s full and has some scars to show for it.
A slender beauty, she burst upon the movie scene in the mid-1940s as Humphrey Bogart’s love interest in Howard Hawks’ “To Have and Have Not.” That’s the one where she delivers the unforgettable line to Bogie’s character: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
Bacall made a handful of memorable movies over the years, mostly in the 1950s. She starred with Marilyn Monroe in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” But there’s a dandy of a comedy from the 1950s called “Designing Women” in which she stars opposite Gregory Peck. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s a hoot.
In the 1970s, Bacall starred opposite John Wayne in “The Shootist” —- which turned out to be The Duke’s last movie.
Bacall was nominated for an Oscar only one time in her long career, in 1996 as best supporting actress as Barbra Streisand’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”
“Slim,” as she was nicknamed in her movies with the Silver Screen icon, will always be best remembered as the young model turned actress who landed Bogie.
She’s forever a cover girl of the 1940s. The War Years. There’s also an iconic photo of her sitting on top of a piano while Harry Truman was tickling the 88s.
Another important part of her life with Bogie was when they, along with others in the movie business, went to Washington, D.C., to support people in their profession who were accused of being communist sympathizers.
A liberal lioness, Bacall has always stood her ground as a champion of progressive causes.
She’s fiesty and independent —- a lot like Kate Hepburn.
I used to want to be Bogart when I was younger —because he had his “baby” by his side was a major reason.
She’s the stuff that dreams are made of.