Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is an American film director, screenwriter, vintner, and hotelier.
Career: 1960 to 1978
Coppola studied film at UCLA and while there, he made numerous short films, including some pornography. In the late 1960s, he started his professional career making low-budget films with Roger Corman and writing screenplays.
On the set of Finian's Rainbow with Petula Clark
Following his directorial debut with You're a Big Boy Now, Coppola was offered the reins of the movie version of the Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow, starring Petula Clark, in her first American film, and veteran Fred Astaire. Producer Jack Warner was nonplussed by Coppola's shaggy-haired, bearded, "hippie" appearance and generally left him to his own devices. He took his cast to the Napa Valley for much of the outdoor shooting, but these scenes were in sharp contrast to those obviously filmed on a Hollywood soundstage, resulting in a disjointed look to the film. Dealing with outdated material at a time when the popularity of film musicals was already on the downslide, Coppola's end result was only semi-successful, but his work with Clark no doubt contributed to her Golden Globe Best Actress nomination.
In 1971, Coppola won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Patton. However, his name as a filmmaker was made as the co-writer and director of The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), which both won the Academy Award for Best Picture — the latter being the first sequel to do so.
During this period he also wrote the screenplay for the 1974 remake of the critical and commercial failure, The Great Gatsby (with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford), and produced George Lucas's breakthrough film, American Graffiti.
Career: 1979 to present
Following the success of The Godfather and its sequel, Coppola set about filming an ambitious version of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, set during the Vietnam War. The film, entitled Apocalypse Now (1979), was beset by numerous problems, including typhoons, drug abuse, nervous breakdowns, Martin Sheen's heart attack, and Marlon Brando's bloated appearance (which Coppola attempted to hide by shooting him in the shadows). It was delayed so often it was nicknamed Apocalypse Whenever. The film was equally lauded and hated by critics when it finally appeared, and the cost nearly bankrupted Coppola's nascent studio American Zoetrope. The 1991 documentary film Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, directed by Eleanor Coppola (Francis's wife), Fax Bahr, and George Hickenlooper, chronicles the difficulties the crew went through making Apocalypse Now, and features behind the scenes footage filmed by Eleanor.
George Lucas, Michael Jackson and Francis Ford Coppola filming Captain EO
Despite the setbacks and ill health Coppola suffered during the making of Apocalypse Now, he kept up with film projects, presenting in 1981 a restoration of the 1927 film Napoléon that was edited and released in the United States by American Zoetrope. However it wasn't until the experimental musical One from the Heart (1982) that he returned to directing. Unfortunately, the film was a huge failure, although it developed a cult following in later years.
In 1986 Coppola, with George Lucas, directed the Michael Jackson film for Disney theme parks, Captain Eo, which at the time was the most expensive film per minute ever made.
In 1990 he completed the Godfather series with The Godfather Part III, which while not as critically acclaimed as the first two movies, was still a box office success.
Coppola's daughter Sofia is also a filmmaker (see The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation). His nephew Nicolas Cage is an acclaimed actor in his own right.
In recent years, Coppola with his family has extended his talents to winemaking in California's Napa Valley and opening resorts in Guatemala and Belize, inspired by his accommodation in the Philippines during the making of Apocalypse Now, with decor supervised by Eleanor Coppola.
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