Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola

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WITH A FOREWORD BY WALTER MURCH Gene Phillips blends biography, studio history, and film criticism to complete the most comprehensive work on Coppola ever written. The force behind such popular and critically acclaimed films as Apocalypse Now and the Godfather trilogy, Coppola has imprinted his distinct style on each of his movies and on the landscape of American popular culture. In Godfather, Phillips argues that Coppola has repeatedly bucked the Hollywood "factory system" in an attempt to create distinct films that reflect his own artistic vision -- often to the detriment of his career and finances. Phillips conducted interviews with the director and his colleagues and examined Coppola's production journals and screenplays. Phillips also reviewed rare copies of Coppola's student films, his early excursions into soft-core pornography, and his less celebrated productions such as One from the Heart and Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The result is the definitive assessment of one of Hollywood's most enduring and misunderstood mavericks.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Phillips throws down the gauntlet in his prologue: other books on the Academy Award-winning American director are mere biographies or filmographies or hopelessly out of date. Phillips asserts he has proven Coppola is a "genuine cinematic artist who is also a popular entertainer." But was this ever in dispute? Phillips has undeniably researched his subject with daunting thoroughness (he even contradicts the director's memory of his own films), categorizing and analyzing every film Coppola ever made, including his brief early forays into soft porn and his stint doing slasher flicks with Roger Corman. The author, who has written on film for three decades, interviews numerous colleagues of Coppola's as well as the director and his wife, Eleanor. He is expansive on the Godfather trilogy and its importance to modern American cinema, explicates the genius of Apocalypse Now and The Conversation, delineates the genealogy of Coppola's work with George Lucas (Star Wars) and Marlon Brando, and even explains how Coppola's bout with polio when he was 10 led to his interest in filmmaking. The book has such depth of information on the director's metier and auteurship, yet Phillips writes with smugness and doesn't quote Coppola enough. The insider tone Phillips sets in his prologue continues throughout, marring (and even undermining) an otherwise superb work of scholarship. This is certainly the definitive work on the director to date and scholars (and lovers) of film will revel in the details about Coppola's best work and hoard the trivia about his worst. 39 photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the 1970s, director Francis Ford Coppola became an almost Orson Welles-like figure, the new reigning genius of the cinema, with his two classic Godfather films, The Conversation, and the decade-ending Apocalypse Now. And, like Welles, he is now considered somewhat of a genius manqu . Phillips (English, Loyola Univ. of Chicago) joins a bevy of writers who have previously analyzed Coppola's oeuvre. With the apparent close cooperation of the director, his family, and many other collaborators, he discusses each of Coppola's films in scrupulous detail. Understandably, Phillips devotes the lion's share of space to Coppola's most significant work (though his forays into soft porn and the poorly received Finian's Rainbow are also covered, for example). Phillips is sympathetic toward the director, perhaps too much at times, but his faults-including the massive ego that persuaded him he could do no wrong-are in evidence. This trait certainly contributed to Coppola's slow decline, even though he has made a few worthy films since his initial success. The author's access to knowledgeable people and his obviously painstaking research make this one of the most useful books to date about Coppola. Recommended for all cinema collections.-Roy Liebman, California State Univ., Los Angeles Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Phillip depicts Coppola's career as a struggle to exist as an 'artist in an industry,' showing that the auteur theory has validity even within today's Hollywood system." -- Booklist

"A first-rate production history of Coppola's films, a history that makes effective use of many interview, biographical, and critical materials, with specific attention to the scripts of Coppola's films.... Highly recommended." -- Choice

"Traces his subject's life and career from the University of California at Los Angeles through his brush with softcore porn 'B' flicks for Roger Corman, his work as a screenwriter, and the founding of his own production company." -- Dallas Morning News

"Phillip's book is marked by an honest appraisal that rises above the hyper-context of Coppola's media history and eccentric behavior.... Gives this much-maligned figure his rightful seat in the pantheon of late twentieth-century film directors, not for one work alone, but for his contribution to the future of the medium." -- Film Quarterly

"Phillips' work is stellar. The text will clearly become the definitive assessment of Francis Ford Coppola." -- Lester Keyser

"Coppola's movies will be seen for generations to come, and the book Godfather is a good insight into those films and the man who made them." -- Lexington Herald-Leader

"The author's access to knowledgeable people and his obviously painstaking research make this one of the most useful books to date about Coppola." -- Library Journal

"Working with Francis Ford Coppola on the screenplays of the Godfather films showed me how a really good direct works." -- Mario Puzo

"Coppola gave Phillips full access to his private journals and intimate opinions, resulting in a book of greater depth and focus." -- New York Resident

"Certainly the definitive work on the director to date and scholars (and lovers) of film will revel in the details about Coppola's best work and hoard the trivia about his worst." -- Publishers Weekly

"The definitive assessment of one of Hollywood's most enduring and misunderstood mavericks." -- SirReadaLot.com

"I have never made a movie as good as The Godfather and I don't have the amitition to try." -- Steven Spielberg

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813123042
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 4/2/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword: Collaborating with Coppola
Chronology for Francis Ford Coppola
Prologue: Artist in an Industry 1
Pt. 1 Hollywood Immigrant
1 Point of Departure: The Early Films and Screenplays 7
2 Going Hollywood: You're a Big Boy Now and Finian's Rainbow 36
3 Nightmares at Noon: The Rain People and The Conversation 53
Pt. 2 The Mature Moviemaker
4 In a Savage Land: The Godfather 87
5 Decline and Fall: The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III 112
6 The Unknown Soldiers: Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Now Redux, and Gardens of Stone 143
Pt. 3 Artist in an Industry
7 Exiled in Eden: One from the Heart 183
8 Growing Pains: The Outsiders and Rumble Fish 202
9 Night Life: The Cotton Club 226
Pt. 4 The Vintage Years
10 The Past as Present: Peggy Sue Got Married and "Rip Van Winkle" 247
11 The Disenchanted: Tucker: The Man and His Dream and New York Stories 261
12 Fright Night: Bram Stoker's Dracula 283
13 The Vanishing Hero: The Rainmaker and Jack 300
Epilogue: The State of the Artist in the Industry Today 313
Notes 325
Selected Bibliography 345
Filmography 353
Index 367
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