With nearly 200 movies to his credit, Dick Miller is one of those guys you’ve seen on screen many times, somebody you sorta kinda recognize from other films, even though you can’t quite come up with his name. Miller was a versatile actor from the earliest days of his career because, as a member of Roger Corman’s repertory company, he had to be: he played a flower-munching kook in Little Shop of Horrors, Boris Karloff’s shadowy aide-de-camp in The Terror, a busboy with dreams of being an artist in A Bucket of Blood, an astronaut in War of the Satellites, and a fast-talking hipster selling vacuum cleaners door to door in Not of This Earth. And while he played the lead in a couple of Corman cheapies, he was usually in for just a scene or two, filling in the background or providing a bit of comic relief. Yet he always made an impression.
Later the directors who worked on Corman’s exploitation pictures in the 1970s turned to Miller to help salvage what they knew were junky projects; he appears again and again in movies directed by Joe Dante, Jonathan Kaplan and Alan Arkush. And many other directors who admired him sought him out, his very presence an homage to his earlier work.
It wasn’t inevitable that all this admiration would lead to a documentary; in retrospect it just seems that way. Elijah Drenner’s That Guy Dick Miller is a rollicking tour through one man’s remarkable life onscreen. It’s a lively and affectionate documentary, peppered with stories from his brother, his many admirers in the film industry and an engaging back-and-forth between Miller and his wife Lainie. –Michael Popham
That Guy Dick Miller screens Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 and 7:00, at the Trylon. Tickets are $8.00 and you can purchase them here.