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Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola

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Also Known As: Frank Coppola, Thomas Colchart, Francis Coppola Died:
Born: April 7, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, composer, executive, magazine publisher, vintner, restaurateur

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

he began what would become a $55 million rumor-bound production in November 1989, reuniting screenwriters Coppola and Puzo, as well as stars Pacino, Keaton and Shire. Coppola's decision to cast daughter Sofia in a pivotal role after Winona Ryder withdrew due to illness backfired miserably, turning a pivotal role into an industry laughingstock. His daughter's failure to capture the part was widely cited as one of the film's worst flaws - leading to cries of nepotism. Studio pressure to meet a December release terminated the editing process prematurely, leaving essentially an unfinished product that seemed aimless and uncertain. A revised "Godfather III" was later made available in the DVD version. Though it remained nowhere near as good as the first two parts, it was far superior to the original theatrical release, thanks to Walter Murch's additional editing. Autumnal, sad, and full of confessions, "The Godfather III" was one of Coppola's most candid films and better than originally believed.Throughout Coppola's career, shaky business ventures magnified the problems of his box-office flops. In the 1960s, he had poured profits from screenwriting into an ill-fated venture called Scopitone, a precursor...

he began what would become a $55 million rumor-bound production in November 1989, reuniting screenwriters Coppola and Puzo, as well as stars Pacino, Keaton and Shire. Coppola's decision to cast daughter Sofia in a pivotal role after Winona Ryder withdrew due to illness backfired miserably, turning a pivotal role into an industry laughingstock. His daughter's failure to capture the part was widely cited as one of the film's worst flaws - leading to cries of nepotism. Studio pressure to meet a December release terminated the editing process prematurely, leaving essentially an unfinished product that seemed aimless and uncertain. A revised "Godfather III" was later made available in the DVD version. Though it remained nowhere near as good as the first two parts, it was far superior to the original theatrical release, thanks to Walter Murch's additional editing. Autumnal, sad, and full of confessions, "The Godfather III" was one of Coppola's most candid films and better than originally believed.

Throughout Coppola's career, shaky business ventures magnified the problems of his box-office flops. In the 1960s, he had poured profits from screenwriting into an ill-fated venture called Scopitone, a precursor of music videos, which showed short movies on a juke box, while the 1970s saw him quickly lose $1.5 million on the San Francisco-based City Magazine during his stewardship. Though the bankruptcy of American Zoetrope signaled his ultimate failure to establish himself independent of the Hollywood power structure, the success of a few mid-'90s films restored Coppola's fortune and subsequent investments later thrived. He bought Blancaneaux, a 50-acre property on the banks of the Privassion River in Belize and began operating it as a luxury hotel in 1993. The following year, he opened - along with partners Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and restaurateur Drew Nieporent - Rubicon, a San Francisco restaurant. Coppola paid $10 million in 1995 to purchase the balance of the old Inglenook wine-producing property, completing his dream estate and expanding his wine company, Niebaum-Coppola. He later offered a food line, "Francis Coppola Selects," reflecting his love of cooking that featured olive oils, vinegars and sun-dried tomatoes.

It would be his growing wine business, in fact, that would keep his name alive, as his nineties film offerings were mostly forgettable, with Coppola more or less a director for hire. He did, however, score a huge success at the helm of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) with the help of a stunning production design (Thomas Sanders), superb cinematography (Michael Ballhaus) and chilling music (Wojciech Kilar). A sumptuous visual extravaganza that more than compensated for lapses in the story, the film grossed $200 million worldwide and carried home Oscars for makeup, sound effects editing and costume design. His nine-year-old granddaughter's request that he make something for kids influenced his next directorial choice. "Jack" (1996) starred Robin Williams as a 10-year-old child with a disorder that caused him to grow four times faster than normal and to have the appearance of a 40-year-old man. The fable, a kind of "Peggy Sue Got Married" premise dealing with Jack's diminished life expectancy, appealed to Coppola for its parallel to his son Gian-Carlo's tragically short but full life. Regrettably, the movie failed to resonate with audiences and pulled up lame at the box office. He picked a proven winner as his next project, scripting and helming the film adaptation of "John Grisham's 'The Rainmaker'" (1997), one of the best of the Grisham adaptations, but one that still lacked the fire and inspiration of Coppola's finer works. After "The Rainmaker," Coppola took nearly a decade off, before returning with "Youth Without Youth" (2007), a low-budget thriller about a fugitive (Tim Roth) fleeing across Europe before the onset of World War II. He then helmed "Tetro" (2009), a drama centered on an artistic immigrant family in Buenos Aires.e impact. Both also lost money. Nevertheless, they captured the writer's world, as Coppola had intended, and provided screen introductions for an astonishing number of young actors who would, within a few years, dominate Hollywood, including Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Christopher Penn and Diane Lane.

Coppola's run of bad luck continued with "The Cotton Club" (1984), an ambitious musical set in the famous Harlem jazz club of the 1920s. Despite putting the script through nearly 40 drafts before the trouble-plagued production began, Coppola was hamstrung by the predetermined character of white cornetist Dixie Dwyer (dictated by Richard Gere's contract), which led to an improbable and incoherent story. Coupled with that problem was Coppola's unmitigated fascination with huge state-of-the-art production methods that ballooned costs to $48 million and had him spending most of his time in his customized high-tech trailer - the 'Silverfish' - surrounded by cameras, monitors, consoles and computers. It was a pure recipe for disaster. Still, he continued his love affair with technology for his television directing debut, "Rip Van Winkle" (Showtime, 1985), crafting many of the fantastic scenes with computer imaging systems. Meanwhile, along with producer George Lucas, he was able to indulge himself by making "Captain EO" (1985), a 12-minute space fantasy for Disney theme parks starring pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Coppola next helmed the light time-travel comedy, "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986), and though it suffered for its inevitable comparisons to "Back to the Future" (1985), it managed a respectable box office. In spite of a weak script, Coppola constructed the tale around a series of poignant encounters; the most powerful - like when Peggy sees her grandparents as they were 25 years earlier - causing the audience to choke-up right along with the time-traveling heroine. A high school student himself in the 1950s, Coppola effectively conveyed an authentic look and feel for the period. The film solidified Kathleen Turner's reputation as an A-list actress and made a star of Coppola's nephew, Nicolas Cage, although some thought him grating in his turn as Peggy Sue's husband. An aura of tragedy surrounded "Gardens of Stone" (1987), a well-acted Vietnam War-era drama played out on the home front, which pleased some critics, but not audiences. During its filming, Coppola's eldest son Gian-Carlo was accidentally killed in a boating accident, due to the negligence of actor and star of "Gardens," Griffin O'Neal, who was later charged with manslaughter for driving the boat recklessly and under the influence of drugs. After replacing O'Neal, Coppola managed to finish the film, albeit with a heavy heart.

The far more impressive "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988) starred Jeff Bridges in the role of the real-life 1940s auto-industry visionary. Coppola had been planning to make this film since the early 1970s, when he had become fascinated with the story of Preston Tucker, the brash but intelligent entrepreneur who dared to challenge the Detroit establishment. The story was not without parallels to Coppola's own career in Hollywood, but more importantly, "Tucker" focused attention on entrepreneurship and innovation at a time in American history when those qualities were sorely lacking. Like "Peggy Sue," "Tucker" also revealed a striking sense of period. Because Coppola used the cinematic conventions of the 1940s to capture the look and feel of the time, "Tucker" was as much about his own memory of the period as it was about the period itself.

Coppola was working in Rome when the opportunity arose to direct "Godfather III" (1990). In desperate need of a hit, Coppola acceded to Paramount chairman Frank Mancuso's pleas for a third installment in the series. Bargaining for full artistic control over the project,t

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Twixt (2012)
2.
  Tetro (2009)
4.
5.
  Jack (1996) Director
6.
  Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) Director
7.
8.
  New York Stories (1989) Director ("Life Without Zoe")
9.
10.
  Gardens Of Stone (1987) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Milius (2013)
3.
4.
9.
 Hollywood Mavericks (1990) Himself
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1962:
Worked on various non-mainstream movies "The Playgirls and the Bellboy" (1962) and "Tonight For Sure" (1962)
1962:
Credited as Thomas Colchart for adapting <i>Nebo zovyot/The Heaven's Call</i> (1960) into "Battle Beyond the Sun"; served as assistant to director Roger Corman on "The Premature Burial" and as dialogue director on "Tower of London"
1962:
Won the Samuel Goldwyn Award for his UCLA screenplay "Pilma, Pilma" (never produced)
1962:
Joined Seven Arts (later Warner Brothers-Seven Arts) as scriptwriter
1963:
Directed and co-wrote first legitimate feature "Dementia 13"
1966:
Directed and wrote UCLA thesis feature "You're a Big Boy Now"; received theatrical release
1969:
Established American Zoetrope (later Zoetrope Studios) for which he executive produced John Korty's TV thriller "The People" (1972)
1970:
Co-wrote Academy Award-winning screenplay "Patton," directed by Franklin Schaffner
1971:
First American Zoetrope film, George Lucas' futuristic "THX-1138"
1972:
Scored huge success with "The Godfather"; won Oscar for co-writing screenplay with Mario Puzo
1973:
Directed revival of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" at the American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco) and Gottfried von Einem's opera "The Visit of the Old Lady" for the San Francisco Opera Company
1973:
Formed The Directors Company (with Peter Bogdanovich and William Friedkin), which produced only two films ¿ Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon" (1973) and Coppola's "The Conversation" (1974)
1974:
Co-wrote (with Puzo) and directed sequel "The Godfather, Part II"; won Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director
1974:
Scripted the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby"
1975:
Founded Niebaum-Coppola winery
1976:
Published <i>City</i> magazine
1979:
Released "Apocalypse Now" to mixed reviews but a strong box office; mortgaged everything to personally cover some $16 million of the $30 million cost
1982:
American Zoetrope dealt a crippling blow by the failure of the extravagant musical film "One From the Heart"
1983:
Directed two film adaptations of S.E. Hinton novels, "The Outsiders" and "Rumble Fish"
1985:
Made TV directing debut with "Rip Van Winkle" (Showtime)
1988:
Directed "Tucker: The Man and His Dream"
1989:
Co-wrote (with daughter Sofia) and directed the "Life Without Zoe" segment of "New York Stories"; received the weakest reviews of the three participating directors (also Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen)
1990:
Returned to the Corleone saga for "The Godfather, Part III"; considered the weakest of the trilogy
1992:
Produced and directed "Bram Stoker's Dracula"
1993:
Appointed to the board of directors at MGM
1996:
Served as president of jury at Cannes Film Festival
1996:
With Wayne Wang and Tom Luddy, formed production company Chrome Dragon
1996:
Dedicated "Jack" (which he produced and directed) to granddaughter Gia Carla, daughter of his son, the late Gian-Carlo
1997:
Launched literary magazine <i>Zoetrope</i>
1997:
Directed and scripted screen adaptation of "John Grisham's 'The Rainmaker,'" starring Danny Glover and Danny De Vito
1998:
Produced first feature through Chrome Dragon, Sherwood Hu's "Lanai-Loa: The Passage"
1998:
Won lawsuit against Warner Bros. claiming the studio had stolen his idea for a live-action version of "Pinocchio"; awarded $20 million in compensatory damages by a jury; further awarded $60 million in punative damages; on appeal, however, $60 million damages were dismissed; appelate judge let stand the $20 million award
1998:
Served as one of the executive producers of the Sci-Fi Channel series "First Wave"
1999:
Produced "The Virgin Suicides," the writing and directing debut of his daughter Sofia Coppola
2003:
Executive produced "Lost in Translation," the award-winning film written and directed by Sofia
2007:
Returned to directing after a ten year hiatus with "Youth Without Youth," a low-budget, self-financed project adapted from the novella by Romanian author Mircea Eliade
2009:
Wrote and directed "Tetro," starring Vincent Gallo
2011:
Wrote, directed, and produced thriller "Twixt"
2012:
Executive produced feature adaptation of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road," directed by Walter Salles
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Great Neck High School: Great Neck , New York -
Hofstra College: Hempstead , New York - 1960
University of California, Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California - 1967

Notes

He was given his middle name because his father was playing flute on the "Ford Sunday Evening Hour" at the time of his birth.

In 1974, Coppola was the first director to receive two nominations from the Directors Guild of America for their annual award. He was cited for "The Conversation" and "The Godfather, Part II". He won for the latter.

"Really, the way the movie business has evolved, there are six companies that own the basketballs, and if you want to play, you have to either talk one of them into doing [your project] or accept one of their jobs. When you talk a studio into doing one of your films, immediately it's, 'But of course, you're going to do this for half your fee, or no fee.' Or, 'Of course, well, let's see, you've got to work on the script a little bit.' They totally control it, so they can have you take a year in rewriting and reworking and casting, and ultimately, you're sort of trying to hang on to doing it the way you want to do it, but they're running everything." --Francis Ford Coppola in an August 1996 interview with the website Mr. Showbiz (www.mrshowbiz.com)

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Eleanor Coppola. Set decorator, artist. Born in 1936; married in February 1963; directed documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse".
companion:
Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter. Had been hired as baby-sitter for the Coppola children; became Coppola's assistant; had relationship around the time of the filming of "Apocalypse Now"; later married to actor Harrison Ford.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
August Coppola. Pianist. Emigrated to USA from Naples as Enrico Caruso's piano accompanist.
father:
Carmine Coppola. Flutist, composer, musical arranger. Born on July 11, 1910; died on April 26, 1991; Italian-American; played in Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra; scored some of son's films, including "The Godfather, Part II" for which he shared an Oscar.
mother:
Italia Coppola. Actor.
uncle:
Archimedes Coppola. Engineer, musician. Born in 1909; died in 1927.
uncle:
Michael Coppola. Inventor. Born in 1914.
uncle:
Antonio Coppola. Conductor, music teacher. Conductor of symphony orchestras and opera with the San Francisco Opera and New York City Opera; also conducted Broadway musicals like "My Fair Lady"; was opera advisor on "The Godfather, Part III" (1990).
father-in-law:
Clifford Neil. Artist, inventor. Born in 1891; died in 1945.
brother:
August Floyd Coppola. Writer, professor. Born in 1934; dean of the School of Creative Arts at San Francisco State University; involved with "Audio Vision" which provides a taped soundtrack of a narrator describing visual information for blind filmgoers; father of Marc and Christopher Coppola and Nicolas Cage.
sister:
Talia Rose Coppola. Actor, producer, director. Born on April 25, 1945; has acted in films directred by brother; formerly married to composer David Shire who scored "The Conversation" (1974); subsequently wed to the late producer Jack Schwartzman with whom she had two sons, actors Jason and Robert Schwartzman.
brother-in-law:
William Neil. Special effects technician. Born in 1939.
nephew:
Marc Coppola. Actor. Born in 1957; son of August Coppola; acted in "Cotton Club", "Jack" and "Deadfall".
nephew:
Christopher Coppola. Director, screenwriter. Son of August Coppola; born on January 25, 1962.
nephew:
Nicolas Cage. Actor. Son of August Coppola; has acted in films directed by uncle; born on January 7, 1964; won Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas".
son:
Gian-Carlo Coppola. Born on September 17, 1963; killed in boating accident in May 1986.
son:
Roman Coppola. Production head, visual effects technician, 2nd unit director, sound mixer, music video director. Born in 1965; heads Black Diamond Productions; first feature as executive producer, "The Spirit of '76" (1990).
nephew:
Jason Schwartzman. Actor, musician. Son of Talia Shire and late producer Jack Schwartzman; born on June 26, 1980; star of comedy hit "Rushmore" (1998).
granddaughter:
Gian Carla Coppola. Daughter of the late Gian-Carlo Coppola and Jackie De La Fontaine, born six months after Gian-Carlo's death in 1986.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Francis Ford Coppola" St. Martin's Press
"Notes" Simon & Schuster
"The Godfather Legacy" Fireside
"A Sense of Place: An Intimate Portrait of the Niebaum-Coppola Winery and the Napa Valley" Routledge
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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