Cover image for Godfather : the intimate Francis Ford Coppola
Godfather : the intimate Francis Ford Coppola
Phillips, Gene D.
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Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, [2004]

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xix, 380 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
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PN1998.3.C67 P48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Author Notes

Gene D. Phillips is a professor of English and film at Loyola University. He lives in Chicago, IL.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Of the many brilliant young American directors in the 1970s, Coppola was perhaps the brightest. He received the greatest acclaim for The Godfather0 and its first sequel, but critics were equally impressed by the less popular The Conversation.0 Since his 1982 debacle One from the Heart0 (whose failure cost him the independent studio he had set up), he has made mostly undistinguished films. Phillips 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. He valiantly attempts to make this case by giving equal time to Coppola's less-celebrated efforts, arguing effectively for the underappreciated Bram Stoker's Dracula0 , which he maintains reinvented the horror film much as The Godfather0 had the gangster film, but less successfully for "gun for hire" jobs such as the John Grisham adaptation, The Rainmaker0 . Phillips relies heavily on previously published resources but makes good use of a lengthy interview with Coppola. Not definitive, but worthwhile. --Gordon Flagg Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is not a biography, though the title implies that it is. A thorough biography of a living director would entail extensive interviews with the subject and his co-workers. Rather, it is a first-rate production history of Coppola's films, a history that makes effective use of many interview, biographical, and critical materials (e.g., Jeffrey Chown's Hollywood Auteur: Francis Coppola, CH, Nov'88), with specific attention to the scripts of Coppola's films. As Philipps observes, Coppola revived the gangster genre with the Godfather films, made a magnificent war movie in Apocalypse Now, and reinvented the horror film with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Phillips devotes the most space to the Godfather films, which is appropriate. The comments on Coppola's Gardens of Stone rightly show how Coppola's views on warfare (and the people who engage in it) cannot be pigeonholed. Libraries that can afford to purchase only one book on Coppola's work would not go wrong by choosing this one, with its extensive chapter notes, eight-page bibliography, 13-page filmography, and lengthy index. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections; all levels. R. Blackwood emeritus, City Colleges of Chicago

Table of Contents

Walter Murch
Foreword: Collaborating with Coppolap. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Chronology for Francis Ford Coppolap. xvii
Prologue: Artist in an Industryp. 1
Part 1 Hollywood Immigrant
1 Point of Departure: The Early Films and Screenplaysp. 7
2 Going Hollywood: You're a Big Boy Now and Finian's Rainbowp. 36
3 Nightmares at Noon: The Rain People and The Conversationp. 53
Part 2 The Mature Moviemaker
4 In a Savage Land: The Godfatherp. 87
5 Decline and Fall: The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part IIIp. 112
6 The Unknown Soldiers: Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Now Redux, and Gardens of Stonep. 143
Part 3 Artist in an Industry
7 Exiled in Eden: One from the Heartp. 183
8 Growing Pains: The Outsiders and Rumble Fishp. 202
9 Night Life: The Cotton Clubp. 226
Part 4 The Vintage Years
10 The Past as Present: Peggy Sue Got Married and "Rip Van Winkle"p. 247
11 The Disenchanted: Tucker: The Man and His Dream and New York Storiesp. 261
12 Fright Night: Bram Stoker's Draculap. 283
13 The Vanishing Hero: The Rainmaker and Jackp. 300
Epilogue: The State of the Artist in the Industry Todayp. 313
Notesp. 325
Selected Bibliographyp. 345
Filmographyp. 353
Indexp. 367