WHOM GOD WISHES TO DESTROY...: Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood by Jon Lewis

WHOM GOD WISHES TO DESTROY...: Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood

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The inflated title of this readable narrative nicely captures the bloated egos everywhere on a display in the Hollywood of the 1980s. It's a saga of art and commerce that Lewis illustrates with the rise and fall of Francis Coppola's moviemaking career. Lewis (English/Oregon State Univ.), of course, sides with Coppola as a brilliant auteur constantly in battle with capitalist vulgarians and dim-witted critics. After the successes of the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now -- which is where this book begins -- Coppola held most of the marbles. And his ambition led him to create Zoetrope Studios, a means for controlling the production and distribution of his future movies. But Lewis fails to see that Coppola's grandiose remarks, his creative hubris, his contempt for mass audiences, all backed him into the overpriced exercises that he directed in the '80s, most notoriously One From the Heart. Relying on industry publications (and no new primary research), Lewis documents the elaborate efforts to finance Coppola's films. But the heart of the drama is the failure of Zoetrope, which Lewis blames on the collusion of the big six studios who felt threatened by the feisty newcomer. The arrogant Coppola hocked the house on One From the Heart, a self-indulgent bit of whimsy that Lewis considers ""terrific...because of all its confusion."" He faults Hollywood for its understandable later efforts to reign in the once-bankable genius. Coppola's spotty record from the late '80s (Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, etc.) resulted, in Lewis's view, from his humiliating need to compromise with the moneymen. Lewis only hints at the more intriguing story here -- that the prerelease hype on movies is increasingly more important than the films themselves. Not a hard-hitting investigation, Lewis's academic study isn't too strong on critical insight, either. But it's a compelling tale, nonetheless, told jargon-free.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
ISBN: 082231889X
Page count: 185pp
Publisher: Duke Univ.