COPPOLA: The Director as Visionary by Peter Cowie

COPPOLA: The Director as Visionary

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Coppola cuts a compelling figure for Cowie, who has had some input from his subject for this filmic study. As with Cowie's Ingmar Bergman (1982), this is a critical biography that looks at each film in great detail, especially the two completed Godfather films, which Cowie practically runs through a Movieola for close rendering of their themes and exposition. One's arguments with him will likely be few. But should a reader compare this limited critical biography with the straight biography On the Edge: The Life and Times of Francis Coppola (1989), by Michael Goodwin and Naomi Wise--which includes far more lively dirt, complete memos, fuller exploration of budgets and financial and artistic crises, Coppola's Kane-like labors with his own San Francisco newspaper, the menus for his parties, and his extramarital lovelife (when his mistress' name and working tie with him are veiled in Cowie but revealed in Goodwin-Wise)? Maybe not. But the fact is, Cowie's well-written ideas about the films are less rewarding beside Goodwin and Wise's big grand read and rich digging into the filmmaker's personal life. Cowie's reader would barely suspect Coppola of megalomania in reading this version of the Apocalypse Now disasters--a film for which Coppola now insists there were not five endings. Cowie's freshest material is about The Godfather, Part III--now being filmed in Rome--who's in it and why, who's not, and what the story is about. The script's last 12 pages have been revealed to nobody but the art director. Cowie's Coppola is spellbinding--but although you get all the movies, you get only half the man.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Scribners