From Publishers Weekly
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other books on the Academy Award-winning American director are mere biographies or filmographies or hopelessly out of date.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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Of the many brilliant young American directors in the 1970s, Coppola was perhaps the brightest. He received the greatest acclaim for The Godfather
and its first sequel, but critics were equally impressed by the less popular The Conversation
. Since his 1982 debacle One from the Heart
(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 Dracula
, which he maintains reinvented the horror film much as The Godfather
had the gangster film, but less successfully for "gun for hire" jobs such as the John Grisham adaptation, The Rainmaker
. Phillips relies heavily on previously published resources but makes good use of a lengthy interview with Coppola. Not definitive, but worthwhile. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved