Why Francis Ford Coppola made B-movies and adult films before The Godfather

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Francis Ford Coppola started out with films like Dementia 13 and The Bellboy and the Playgirls before making The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

Five-time Oscar-winning legend Francis Ford Coppola had a long and varied film career, but before gaining acclaim, the iconic auteur made his debut in B-movies and adult films. Best known for helming The Godfather trilogy and its problematic magnum opus from Vietnam Revelation nowCoppola was notable for being one of the first waves of film students to enter the studio system in the late 1960s. Writing the Oscar-winning screenplay for Patton in 1970, Coppola inaugurated the era of New Hollywood with radical films like The conversation and strikes a chord with his collaborations with The foreigners author SE Hinton in the early 1980s.

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Coppola rose through the ranks working on virtually every production where he could gain experience, including what was then dubbed “nudie cuties”, which were films that showed nudity, but not sexuality. He first made an unfinished short film titled the voyeur in 1962, which was expanded and reissued in Tonight for sure. Coppola was then quickly hired to do the same for a German sexploitation film titled The Groom and the Playgirls. Before big projects came his way and his famous family flooded Hollywood, Coppola studied with low-budget producer extraordinaire Roger Corman, as an uncredited director on the cheaply made horror flick. . Terror then the shooting of his first feature film, Dementia 13for nine days for $40,000.


Related: Apocalypse Now: Why Francis Ford Coppola Fired Willard’s Original Actor

Coppola took on these seemingly peculiar projects to gain experience and build momentum for his film career. The filmmaker seized all the opportunities that presented themselves to him, in particular as a director of dialogues on the film Corman. Tower of Londontaking care of the sound recording on The young runners, re-editing films from the Soviet Union in order to “Americanize” them, and even serving as a second unit director or helping with script continuity. He even co-wrote This property is condemned and Is Paris burning? in 1966 and learns to self-finance its projects. Nothing was below him, an attitude that ultimately helped him become a well-rounded filmmaker. Due to the experience at such a young age, Coppola was able to wow with his student film, You are a big boy nowa comedy that earned him his master’s degree at UCLA and opened the door to Hollywood for him.



Marlon Brando in The Godfather

Given that Coppola worked on big-budget Hollywood projects long before his contemporaries like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg, his background gave him the confidence to direct stars like Marlon Brando, take on big-budget productions, and even stand up. tackle more personal projects like Tucker: A Man and His Dream. Given early exposure on set in such a variety of different production roles, Coppola’s cinematic understanding also apparently led him to play with different aspects like cinematography in growling fish or with genres like horror in Dracula.

These early films haven’t aged well and are even hard to find, but the adage “you have to start somewhere” rings true, proving that you can progress and use experience and knowledge to build greater experiences. case and point, The Godfather came exactly ten years after adult entertainment and became the greatest movie of all time. Francis Ford Coppola has come a long way from adult films and B-movies, but the filmmaker has never backed down from his past, instead bestowing respect and gratitude on those early projects.


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