Francis Ford Coppola

(b. 1939) American film director, writer, and producer

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(1939– )

US film director, writer, and producer.

Born of Italian parents in Detroit, Coppola showed an early interest in the performing arts, creating his own puppet shows while recovering from childhood polio. After studying film at the University of California he worked on low-budget sex and horror movies until the 1960s, when he began to write and direct his own features. His first success as a director was the musical Finian's Rainbow (1968); notable screenplays include Patton (1971), a biopic of the World War II general, and The Great Gatsby (1974).

Coppola's reputation as a significant force in the cinema rests chiefly on the trilogy The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), and The Godfather Part III (1991). The films, conceived on an epic scale and featuring powerful performances from Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino, chart the fortunes of a New York Mafia family over several generations. Between them they collected eight Academy Awards, including three for Coppola as writer and director. A still more ambitious film was Apocalypse Now (1979), a retelling of Conrad's Heart of Darkness in a Vietnam War setting; hailed by some critics as a masterpiece, it was dismissed by others as overblown and pretentious. His other films include The Cotton Club (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1991), and (as producer only) Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994). He has also directed in the theatre.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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