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Francis Ford Coppola: A Film-maker's Life Paperback – 6 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (6 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747551367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747551362
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 857,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Maverick director Francis Ford Coppola is a biographer's dream: in an industry dominated by those who play it safe, the director of the Godfather trilogy has always seemed larger than life. As Michael Schumacher shows, Coppola's reputation for "equal parts talent and bombast" is overshadowed only by his willingness to stake everything on projects in which he believes, sometimes with dire financial consequences. Yet throughout the catalogue of disasters and setbacks detailed in this comprehensive biography, Coppola has carried on making films, even if they have frequently confounded audience expectation.

Coppola's interest in film making began at an early age when, incapacitated by polio, he experimented with a 16mm projector and a tape recorder. He would later attend film school and work for legendary producer Roger Corman, gaining invaluable training from the master of low-budget genre pictures. In many ways Coppola was a trailblazer, graduating to feature films earlier than the fellow film students--George Lucas and Steven Spielberg among them--alongside whom he would later form the New Hollywood. In its most entertaining chapters, Schumacher's impeccably researched book follows Coppola as he enjoys the incredible success of The Godfather, survives the madness of the notorious Apocalypse Now shoot in the Philippines, then spirals rapidly into debt after the disaster that was One From The Heart. Since this spectacular failure in the early 1980s, Coppola has never quite delivered a masterpiece, offering only fleeting glimpses of his idiosyncratic talent. But even in his failures, Schumacher depicts Coppola as a fiercely creative and independent figure struggling against the might of corporate Hollywood. It is a testament to the writer's devotion to his subject that on finishing the biography we are left with an unshakeable feeling that a return to form must surely be imminent. --John Oates

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The tagline on the front cover seems like damning-with-faint-praise and maybe that's true, it feels as though the Man Himself or any of his family were the only ones Schumacher didn't get to interview for it. Perhaps Coppola has an autobiography in mind for the future?

But anyway, for an insight into the arc of Coppola's career and personality this seems to be a fine read. The best stuff comes with the best films, or at least the biggest ones: The Godfathers and Apocalypse Now are covered in fine and page-turning detail and you come out feeling for the man and the struggles he went through to get the films made. The subsequent decline in fortunes is also well-covered, but the author is faced with the problems of keeping it interesting when Coppola descends into being just a jobbing director towards the end of the book.

My biggest problem is the inclusion of detailed plot synopsis of each film, instead of any kind of analysis - these artist biographies usually make me want to go and re-watch their films, and indeed I did catch up on his early films I'd missed as a result, BUT I had to learn to WATCH OUT FOR THOSE PARAGRAPHS WHERE THE WHOLE FILM PLOT IS REPRODUCED.
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By Rashyd Ullah on 26 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
Having known little about Francis Coppola before reading the book. I feel the book has provided a good insight to Francis and his films. The book reads easily and provides a good background to his career and his work. Where the book falls short is engaging Francis on a personal level. You get the impression that Francis is a rebel and a maverick in the Hollywood director's circle, but you don't get to see why and don't feel you know what motivates him. The book reads a little like a C.V. It tells you what films he has made, some background and the experiences he had with making each film. The book also replays the plots of his films, which I found quite interesting as, I have not seen all of his films, but I can image could be annoying to any one who has. Overall I would say its a very good book, you learn a lot about his career, his films but slightly let down as you feel there is more to the man than is revealed by the book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
The main problem with this book is that there's nothing really wrong with it.It trundles chronologically through Coppola's life, explaining what he did when in a reasonably accurate and thorough manner.But,as that summary suggests, it fails to engage with Coppola on an artistic or a personal level.Near the end of the book, Schumaker records that Coppola responded to the poor reviews for "Jack" "With a shrug"... and Schumaker, like his subject, doesn't seem to really care. There's nothing in this book to explain away or to challenge Coppola's unfortunate epithet as "The man who worked his way down from the top".Schumaker has an exasperating tendency to offer plot summaries in the place of analysis (as if anyone interested enough in Coppola to consider buying a book about him would be unfamiliar with the plot of "The Godfather").More significantly, it's as if he wants to trace the events of Coppola's life and make them into a learning curve.He presents Coppola's recent life as wine-producer and efficient adaptor of John Grisham's novels as if it was something Coppola had been aspiring to all his life, as if "Apocalypse Now" was simply a youthful excess on the road to the palace of wisdom. Schumaker's desire to present a sympathetic portrait means that he's constantly apologising for his subject's egotistical excess, claiming that events which *may* appear to present Coppola in a bad light actually have a legitimate explanation.Thus, when Coppola reacts to the news of Sheen's heart attack on Apocalypse Now with the words "He's dead when I say he's dead", Schumaker is at pains to point out that he didn't really mean this the way it sounded.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Schumacher got it right 15 Dec. 1999
By Jay Shoemaker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I work for Francis Coppola today and know him pretty well. Michael Schumacher's book really captures the spirit and energy of this facinating and complex man. I have read most of the other Coppola books and none combines an understanding for both the human and artistic side of Francis.
This book, like no other I have read, reflects the passion, energy and chaos of the Coppola world. I can tell you from the inside there is no more exciting experience than being part of the Coppola energy. Francis loves to tackle the "impossible" and never gives up. I particularly like this book because it is clear that the author, like myself, has great respect for this whirlwind of a man.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Francis Ford Coppola: Hollywood Godfather of Creative Genius 30 May 2006
By C. M Mills - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Francis Ford Coppola was born in a great year for the movies!

In 1939 the director was born to Carmen Coppola and his wife

Italia. His parents were creative-Carmen was a musician in the

Detroit Symphony and later in the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Carmen would later win a musical

Oscar for the Godfather films.

Francis was a younger son to his older brother who was everything Francis wasn't: handsome and well liked at school.

His sister Talia Shire would later be a movie star in his own

films most notably the Godfather classics.

Coppola graduated from Hofstra and received a master's degree

in film from the UCLA film school. His early apprenticship in

film was under the tutelage of famed B director Roger Corman.

Coppolla emerged from nudie films and small pictures to direct

"Finigan's Rainbow" and began to emerge as a talented maverick

whose creative/artistic wings were flying in the early 1970s.

Despite arduous business and creative troubles he won fame and fortune and several Oscars for the Godfather films. His most

controversial film was "Apocalypse Now" his take on the Vietnam

conflict based on Joseph Conrad's novella "The Heart of Darkness."

Coppola's career has more ups and downs than a roller coaster

as he founded Zoetrope Films in San Francisco and went to the

mat in countless donybrook battles with studio executives.

Coppola reminds me of Orson Welles in that he achieved fame early and then had a difficult career in tinsel town. He is a

man of massive ego; intelligence; daring and creative attention

to the details/minutia of film. He was unfaithful to his wife

Ellie; grieved over a son yet emerges from this biography as a

flawed but good man. He is gregarious and honest and a good

friend. His friendship assisted George Lucas in launching his

storied career! I like Coppola's rich textured films. His screenwriting from Patton to his latest project is outstanding.

This meticulous account of Coppola's career in the Hollywood jungle will not appeal to everyone. Countless pages are devoted to business deals, legal disputes and the difficulties encountered by Coppola in making his films.

For me who loves the Godfather and FFC this is a fine book.

Anyone who seeks to explore this brilliant man's career would do

well to begin with Schumacher's fine biograpy.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Story about a living legend 17 Nov. 2009
By Joel J. Rossetti - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an aspiring screenwriter with no credits. If your like me, your shot at the big time is with Francis Coppola. Get this book and and send your screenplay to the Zoetrope Screenplay Contest. Final deadline is 2 August 2010. Francis Coppola is the final judge.
See you at the Oscars.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A TOTAL mystery... 5 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...and I hope he stays that way. Francis Ford Coppola is one of the inspirations of my life. His energy and enthusiasm for what he does outshines even the projects many might deride. One thing you have to say is at LEAST he puts his all into what he does, and I'd imagine no one would doubt this. PS: WHEN is the UNCUT version of "One From the Heart" going to be issued on DVD?
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Apocalypse When 7 April 2000
By lorenzo scarfalloto - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I thought this biography was detailed mostly around this film. On page 262, first paragraph, I think Mr. Coppola would agree to mention the fact that "The Chief Phillips" made a life last attempt to end Willard after getting speared on the boat by Kurtz's mongrules. Overall, the book was a manificant biography of a Itailian-American film maker of our time.
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