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Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola Hardcover – April 16, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

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other books on the Academy Award-winning American director are mere biographies or filmographies or hopelessly out of date.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.
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From Booklist

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 Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (April 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813123046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813123042
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,384,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Don McNay on April 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You can read the full review at [...]

Coppola: godfather of filmmaking


By Reviewed By Don McNay

At first, I feared that Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola would be a stilted thesis. Instead, I found it to convey the research and knowledge of an esteemed academic in a book that is easy to read.
The research is certainly strong; author Gene Phillips, a professor of English at Loyola University of Chicago, knows his stuff. However, I am more impressed with the way the book flows. It covers Coppola's work with just the right amount of detail.
The book is biographical, but the focus is on Coppola's movies and how they were made. Phillips breaks the book into chronological chapters but also groups similar works together. He discusses all three chapters of the Godfather saga as a group, even though they stretch over a 20-year period, during which Coppola was making other movies.
Phillips is obviously a fan of Coppola, but the book comes across as dispassionate and even-handed. It takes us through Coppola's youth, his education at the UCLA film school, and his work for Roger Corman, the king of the B movies.
The book would be well worth the effort just to read Phillips' perspective on how Coppola turned Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather into a classic film trilogy. Coppola saw through some of the more graphic sex and violence in the novel and focused on the drama of the struggle of the family. Graphic scenes were certainly part of the movie, such as the famous horse-head-in-the-bed scene, but Coppola was able to weave the drama and story line of the book in the way that became a film classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's a little confusing because Phillips decides to go out of chronological order whenever he feels that grouping films by theme or subject matter would allow him to get his points across better. Thus the three Godfather films are discussed back to back (to back), and even though this allows him a freedom to show the cross-connections among the different parts of the Godfather saga, I wonder if it doesn't screw up our understanding of the amazing ups and downs of Coppola's career. Otherwise it is an amazing read and will be the standard book on the director for some time to come.

It is a measure of the book's evenhandedness that, even when I disagree on Phillips' rankings of the different movies, I still respect his opinion. He rates THE RAIN PEOPLE and FINIAN'S RAINBOW considerably lower than I do, while heaping plaudits on top of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and Winona Ryder's performance. I was glad to see that Phillips has seen and likes RIP VAN WINKLE, the episode of that Shelley Duvall fairy tale TV series that Coppola directed at a low point (it was on RIP that Coppola first worked with Eiko Ishioka, the costume designer who later on made the fantastic DRACULA costumes so creepily memorable).

Spelling the "best film of the 90s" as GoodFellows is a little odd, but Phillips is an old school journeyman film writer, with lots of research under his belt, and a level head to boot. He makes us curious about all the footage said to have been cut by Warner from THE OUTSIDERS (1983) and how handy is it that from what I hear this footage has been restored by Coppola for the upcoming theatrical re-release and DVD of the film this fall! I wonder if we will ever see another version of THE COTTON CLUB too--or if Coppola will ever work again with Diane Lane, on whose behalf he labored so long, like John Hughes did for Molly Ringwald or, if it comes to that, as Josef Von Sternberg did for Marlene Dietrich.
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