Monday, March 22, 2010

Roger Corman Week - Day 1 - Swamp Women (1955)

Hiya Kiddies! Yer Ol' Professor is back from his travels and ready to celebrate one of the all-time great B-movie directors of all time! That's right, it's Roger Corman week here at the Public Domain Treasure Chest.

Those of you who watched the Academy Awards a couple of weeks ago will have seen that Mr. Corman was given a special Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award, and there may be some, hard as it is for me to believe, who may not know why. So we're going to spend the week (including Saturday) taking a look at the man, his work, and his impact and influence on the film world, and hopefully by the time we're all done those of you out there who don't know the man and his legacy will have a greater appreciation for what he has accomplished.

Born in 1926, Roger Corman studied engineering in college, but he always found himself drawn to movie and to the technical aspects of movie-making. Deciding to finally pursue a career in the film industry, he got a job as a young man as a messenger at 20th Century Fox. Moving up through the ranks there, learning all he could alng the way he finally became a story analyst and then in 1953 got his first break as a producer and screenwriter on the movie Highway Dragnet. Two years later, he made his directorial debut on today's film, Swamp Women. From that point on, Corman became an unstoppable force, often producing a many as six or seven films a year. Some of them were extremely low budget and quickly made, others, such as the Edgar Allan Poe films he made starring Vincent Price, show the quality and showmanship that Corman could achieve on a very tight budget. In all, his IMDB page credits him as producer on 389 films (his latest, Dinoshark, just had it's debut on the SyFy channel earlier this month) and as director on 56.

More important perhaps than all of that, though is Corman's eye for talent. He is credited for discovering, giving breaks to, and helping develop stars such as Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Michael McDonald, Dennis Hopper, Talia Shire, and Robert De Niro, and David Carradine and directors Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, Gale Anne Hurd, Joe Dante, James Cameron, and John Sayles, among many others. Carradine was even once quoted as saying "It’s almost as though you can’t have a career in this business without having passed through Roger’s hands for at least a moment."

So today we'll begin our retrospective with Corman's directorial debut. Swamp Women is a fun little "women in prison" quicky that, while early in his career still shows Corman's deft eye and his talent for putting every cent of his budget on the screen. The plot involves a policewoman who goes undercover in prison to hook up with a gang of female jewel thieves. Soon they have broken out of jail and are on the run through the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. What follows is a mash-up of sexy women running through the swamp in cut-off jeans, mud wrestling, rubber crocodiles, lots of stock footage of the bayou, and Mike (Mannix) Conners (credited here as "Touch" Conners) who spends most of the flick with his hands tied behind his back.

But enough talking about it, let's take a look, shall we? Here's a short clip:

And now, the Skinny:
Title: Swamp Women
Release Date: 1955
Running Time: 84min
Starring: Beverly Garland, Marie Windsor, Mike Connors
Directed by: Roger Corman
Produced by: Roger Corman
Distributed by: Woolner Brothers Pictures Inc.

Swamp Women is available for free to watch or download here.
It's also available on DVD from Amazon: Swamp Women.
And Netflix has it available for rental: Swamp Women.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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