Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939) is an Italian-American film director, producer and screenwriter. Away from showbusiness, Coppola is also a vintner, magazine publisher and hotelier. He is a graduate of Hofstra University where he studied theatre. He earned an M.F.A. in film directing from the UCLA Film School. He is most renowned for directing the Godfather films, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now.


[edit] Napoléon restoration and One from the Heart

Main article: Napoléon restorations

Despite the setbacks during the making of Apocalypse Now, Coppola kept up with film projects, presenting in 1981 a restoration by the British film historian Kevin Brownlow of the celebrated 1927 Abel Gance film Napoléon that was released in the United States by American Zoetrope. Coppola’s father scored a soundtrack for this cut of the film. However, more of the film has since been found and incorporated by Brownlow, and Carmine Coppola’s soundtrack is written to match the film at a different frame speed from that at which Gance shot it. Coppola’s insistence on his father’s score (others do exist), and his claim to have worldwide rights on showings of the film (he purchased some rights from Claude Lelouch who in turn had purchased them from a penniless Gance), mean that this film is not presently screened, and its fullest form is unavailable on DVD.

Coppola returned to directing with the experimental musical One from the Heart (1982). The film was a financial failure.

[edit] Hammett

Main article: Hammett (film)

Hammett is a 1982 homage to noir films and pulp fiction directed by Wim Wenders and completed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is a fictionalized story about writer Dashiell Hammett, based on the novel of the same name by Joe Gores. German director Wenders was hired by Coppola to direct this film, which was to be his American debut feature. But by the time the final version was released in 1982, only 30 percent of Wenders’ footage remained, and the rest had been completely reshot by Coppola.[7] Wenders made a short film called Reverse Angle documenting his disputes with Coppola surrounding the making of Hammett.

[edit] The Outsiders

Main article: The Outsiders

In 1982, he directed The Outsiders, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. Coppola credited his inspiration for making the film to a suggestion from middle school students who had read the novel. The Outsiders is notable for being the breakout film for a number of young actors who would go on to become major stars. These included major roles for Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, and C. Thomas Howell. Others rising stars in the cast include Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, and Tom Cruise. Matt Dillon and several others also starred in Coppola’s related film, Rumble Fish, which was also based on a S.E. Hinton novel and filmed at the same time as The Outsiders on-location in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Carmine Coppola wrote and edited the musical score, including the title song “Stay Gold”, which was based upon a famous Robert Frost poem and performed for the movie by Stevie Wonder.

[edit] The Cotton Club

In 1984 Coppola directed The Cotton Club. The film was produced by Robert Evans. It was a box-office failure, with a budget of $45 million and a gross revenue of only $25 million. Despite performing poorly at the box office, the film was nominated for several awards, including Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Picture (Drama) and the Oscar for best Film Editing.

[edit] Gardens of Stone and Tucker: The Man and His Dream

In 1987 Coppola reteamed with James Caan for Gardens of Stone but the film was overshadowed by the death of Coppola’s eldest son Gian-Carlo Coppola during the film’s production. Also in 1987 he directed an episode of Rip Van Winkle.

He followed this with Tucker: The Man and His Dream, a biopic based on the life of Preston Tucker and his attempt to produce and market the Tucker ’48. Coppola had originally conceived the project as a musical with Marlon Brando in the lead role as his next project after the release of The Godfather Part II. Now, with Jeff Bridges in the role of Preston Tucker, the film received positive reviews, earning three nominations at the 62nd Academy Awards.

[edit] New York Stories

In 1989 Coppola teamed up with fellow Oscar-winning directors Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen for an anthology film called New York Stories. Coppola directed the Life without Zoe segment starring his sister Talia Shire, and also co-wrote the film with his daughter Sofia Coppola. Life Without Zoe was mostly panned by critics and was generally considered the segment that brought the film’s overall quality down.

[edit] 1990s

[edit] The Godfather Part III

In 1990, he released the third and final chapter of The Godfather series with The Godfather Part III. Coppola successfully managed to get Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire to return to the franchise, but Robert Duvall refused to reprise his role as Tom Hagen over salary disagreements. While not as critically acclaimed as the first two films, it was still a box office success. Some reviewers criticized the casting of Coppola’s daughter Sofia, who stepped into a role abandoned by Winona Ryder just as filming began. Despite this, The Godfather Part III went off to gather 7 Academy Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture for Coppola himself. The film failed to win any of these awards, the only film in the trilogy to do so.

[edit] Dracula, Frankenstein and recent films

In 1992, Coppola released Bram Stoker’s Dracula, an adaptation of Stoker’s novel which tried to follow Stoker’s novel more closely than previous film adaptations, although its closeness to the book is often debated. Coppola cast Gary Oldman in the film’s title role, along with Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins. The movie’s box office success enabled Coppola to keep his vineyard. The film won Academy Awards for Costume Design, Makeup, and Sound Editing. Two years later Coppola produced, but did not direct an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which featured Kenneth Branagh (who also directed the film) in the title role and Robert De Niro as the monster.

Coppola would only make two more films in the 1990s: Jack, starring Robin Williams in 1996, and The Rainmaker, an ensemble courtroom drama in 1997. His next project would not be for another 10 years.

Youth Without Youth was released on December 14, 2007. It was made for about $19 million, and was given a limited release. As a result, Coppola announced his plans to produce his own films in order to avoid the marketing input that goes into most films (making them appeal to too-wide an audience).

His most recent film, Tetro, was shot in Buenos Aires and was released in select cinemas in June 2009.

Meanwhile, for years, he has tried to make a movie called Megalopolis, a film about an architect in a futuristic New York who tries to create utopia through architecture.

[edit] Zoetrope: All Story

In 1997, Coppola founded Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine devoted to short stories and design. The magazine publishes fiction by emerging writers alongside more recognizable names, such as Woody Allen, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Alice Munro, Don DeLillo, Mary Gaitskill, and Edward Albee; as well as essays, including ones from Mario Vargas Llosa, David Mamet, Steven Spielberg, and Salman Rushdie. Each issue is designed, in its entirety, by a prominent artist, one usually working outside his / her expected field. Previous guest designers include Gus Van Sant, Tom Waits, Laurie Anderson, Marjane Satrapi, Guillermo del Toro, David Bowie, David Byrne, and Dennis Hopper. Coppola serves as founding editor and publisher of All-Story.