KATZMAN, NICHOLSON, CORMAN: SHAPING HOLLYWOOD'S FUTURE (hardback)
Katzman, Nicholson, Corman Shaping Hollywood's Future by Mark Thomas McGee.
Sam Katzman, James H. Nicholson, and Roger Corman were the pioneers of drive-in movies, sometimes called “Teenpix” because the movies were made for the teenagers.
During the 1930s, Katzman worked for every two-bit outfit on Hollywood's Poverty Row, becoming a producer when the woman he loved told him she's come to Hollywood to marry a producer. In the late 1940s, he went to work for Columbia, cranking out serials and low-budget action pictures. Rock Around the Clock (1956) was Columbia's biggest money-maker that year, after which Sam turned his attention to making movies for teenagers. He created the East Side Kids and the Jungle Jim series, and co-produced It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956). After making Twist Around the Clock (1961) and Don’t Knock the Twist (1962) for Columbia, he moved to MGM to make a series of musicals that included two with Elvis Presley, Kissin’ Cousins (1964) and Harum Scarum (1965).
James H. Nicholson borrowed $3,000 from a fellow exhibitor and founded the American Releasing Corporation, which later became American International Pictures (AIP), often called “The Jolly Green Giant” by movie insiders. As the company grew, he took on a lawyer as a partner, Samuel Z. Arkoff. Jim handled the creative end; Arkoff took care of the business end. The two men joked that Jim was the good cop and Arkoff was the bad cop. AIP movie milestones included I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), several horror films with Vincent Price that were based on Edgar Allen Poe stories, and Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), and Fireball 500 (1966) with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. AIP was also in the forefront of the 1960s protest pictures, such as Wild in the Streets (1968).
Roger Corman made dozens of juvenile delinquency dramas and sci-fi thrillers for American International and Allied Artists. Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) and its companion picture, Not of This Earth (1957) were big money-makers. Corman is probably best-known for the cult classic, The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). Every now and then, Corman worked on movies with bigger budgets, such as The St. Valentines Day Massacre (1967), but his modestly budgeted The Wild Angels (1966) earned more than $10 million in box office returns. He started his own successful company, New World Pictures which he sold for $16 million in the 1980s, after which he opened Concorde-New Horizons and began producing movies for the home video market. He was bestowed a special Academy Award Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
Includes an Index, a selected Filmography, complete with behind-the-scenes information, and quotes from the critics and the exhibitors, and more than 150 photographs.
About the author: Mark Thomas McGee is the author of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Talk’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive; The Films of Robert L. Lippert, and You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. He also wrote screenplays for Bad Girls From Mars (1990), Inner Sanctum (1991), and he co-directed Equinox (1970).
"I’m a big fan of Mark Thomas McGee, starting
with the two editions of his American-
International history (the most recent –
Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and
Fattened Fable of American International
Pictures), Talks’s Cheap, Action’s Expensive:
The Films of Robert L. Lippert and You
Won’t Believe Your Eyes! A Front Row Look
at the Sci-Fi/Horror Films of the 1950s. I
also love this new book. But a caveat – like
with Hammer books by Wayne Kinsey and
others, as they continue to explore with new
books, new related subjects, many of the
facts, interviews, etc. that were featured in
older books find their way into these new books. Same here. If you read the
previous Sam Katzman book, you are going to run into some of the same stories
and anecdotes. Same with James H. Nicholson and Roger Corman. Now, having
said that, this is NOT simply a rehash of what went before. Written from
scratch with different viewpoints and lots of NEW facts and stories.
Very good selection of photos (although the reproduction is somewhat spotty).
You can finally see what Herman Cohen’s main screenwriter, Aben Kandel
"Devoted to three of the major exploitation film figures of the drive-in era - prolific B-movie producer Sam Katzman, American International Pictures co-founder James H. Nicholson and low-budget legend Roger Corman - this informative, 342-page softcover recounts their successful lives and (often cut-rate) careers, as well as how they helped save an industry struggling with the 1950s television boom. Filled with recollections from past cast/crew members and peppered with photos, a sizeable section is devoted to each schlock kingpin. We're taken through Katzman's varied genre-outings - the Jungle Jim and East Side Kids franchises, assembly-line serials, spectacularly-awful features like The Giant Claw and The Magic Carpet - along with amusing anecdotes about his notorious cost-cutting notions. Then there's Nicholson, the creative brains behind AIP, who exploited trendy new fads, concocted savvy marketing schemes and shrewdly tapped into the profitable youth demographic. This section also sets the record straight about Nicholson's essential contribution to AIP's success, following ex-partner Sam Z. Arkoff's credit-hogging autobiography. Last but not least, McGee charts Corman's rise from directing films for Allied Artists and AIP, to creating The Filmgroup, New World and Concorde in order to tap into the distribution game, as well as the numerous opportunities he gave novice actors and filmmakers along the way. Each section concludes with a selected filmography that contains production details and critics/exhibitors' feedback.
"Exceptionally well-researched and written, this is an entertaining tribute to three screen pioneers whose ideas continue to influence modern-day cinema."
- Shock Cinema