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Just one of those ends

Michael Wood: Apocalypse Regained

13 December 2001
Apocalypse Now Redux 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
August 2001
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Marlon Brando 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 297 84284 6
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... the narrator of Double Indemnity had been bewildered by the jungle. Of course the film gets bewildered too, and takes off on an extraordinary literary ramble from which it never returns and in which FrancisCoppola and his team seem to have decided to do The Golden Bough as their Christmas pantomime. The confused ending weighs on the film but doesn’t wreck it, so we don’t need to hush up the ...

Loving Dracula

Michael Wood

25 February 1993
Bram Stoker’s Dracula 
directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
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Suckers: Bleeding London Dry 
by Anne Billson.
Pan, 315 pp., £4.99, January 1993, 0 330 32806 9
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... he also comes West, buying up London, bringing boxes of earth from his native land; associated with bats and wolves and the night, he carries the imagery of rabies and syphilis into the age of Aids. FrancisFordCoppola’s lavish, stylish, sometimes silly, always engaging movie also includes the lines quoted above, but we hardly notice them because we’ve just been treated to a much more spectacular ...

Who’s Got the Moxie?

A. Craig Copetas

23 March 1995
The Mexican Tree Duck 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 247 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 330 32451 9
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One to Count Cadence 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 338 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 330 32450 0
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... saga about men of strength and personal honour in 1967 ... well, here we have a man writing about war and lies and apocalypse long before Sony cassette-players brought Jimi Hendrix to the jungle and FrancisFordCoppola discovered it was cheaper to rent Asians in the Philippines. As the Christian Serbians evaporate the Bosnian Muslims, and the African butchers sharpen their machetes in the rain-forest ...


David Thomson: Alcatraz

26 March 2009
... of censorship, the subtitle of Howard Hawks’s great rowdy movie Scarface (1932) declared organised crime to be the ‘Shame of a Nation’. But many people unashamedly rooted for the gangsters. As FrancisFordCoppola would observe when he made the first two Godfather films, the set was crowded whenever they were doing shoot-’em-up scenes. And ‘Scarface’ was plainly an allusion to Al Capone, one ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford

12 May 1994
The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... significant ‘wound, the looming mistake and defeat of this half-century’. And the stories the war generated, particularly when told by such as Tim O’Brien or Michael Herr or Philip Caputo or FrancisFordCoppola, still seem a more effective way of dealing with its lingering legacy than the denials of black humour, or the ferocious fireworks display of Desert Storm ...

Eat grass

Jenny Turner: The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

15 July 1999
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing 
by Melissa Bank.
Viking, 274 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 9780670883004
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... is what of course makes it magical, if you are a fan of recent Hollywood hem-hem romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and The Truth about Cats and Dogs. You may not be surprised to hear that FrancisFordCoppola has bought the film rights to this story, and has hired Bank to write the screenplay. My Hollywood source says that Coppola these days is more interested in his vineyard, and that he has ...

Tsk, Ukh, Hmmm

Michael Newton: Forgetting to remember to forget

23 February 2006
Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language 
by Daniel Heller-Roazen.
Zone, 287 pp., £18.95, May 2005, 1 890951 49 8
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... is an emblem of all the book’s instances of language’s forgetting. The transmuted creature bears a trace of the old, a remnant that memorialises its loss. There is a telling moment in Eleanor Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness, a documentary on the making of her husband’s film Apocalypse Now. An exasperated FrancisFordCoppola attempts to persuade a strung-out Dennis Hopper that he must learn his ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo

17 August 2006
The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... of his whining petulance is one of the best things in the book. Among those who count as friends, rather than passing acquaintances, are Marguerite Yourcenar, Christopher Isherwood, Susan Sontag and FrancisFordCoppola (among several interesting photographs is one of Richie beside a gawky, 19-year-old Sofia Coppola, who looks thoroughly lost). He knew Ozu and Kurosawa, and wrote books about their work ...

Star Warrior

John Sutherland

6 October 1983
Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... strikes back have sold getting on for $900m worth of tickets. C-3PO and R2-D2 are as well known as Pope John Paul or Mickey Mouse. Lucas’s second movie and first hit, American Graffiti (produced by FrancisCoppola, conceived and directed by Lucas), was the most profitable investment in Hollywood history: it brought in $117m against a production cost of $750,000. Raiders of the Lost Ark (conceived and ...

Bandini to Hackmuth

Christopher Tayler: John Fante

21 September 2000
Ask the Dust 
by John Fante.
Rebel Inc, 198 pp., £6.99, September 1999, 0 86241 987 5
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Full of Life: A Biography of John Fante 
by Stephen Cooper.
Rebel Inc, 406 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 9781841950228
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... novels began to be rediscovered in the 1970s. While researching his screenplay for Chinatown, Robert Towne came across Ask the Dust and took up Fante’s cause. He optioned the novel and persuaded FrancisFordCoppola to do the same for the book Fante was then working on, The Brotherhood of the Grape (1977). In 1978, the poet Charles Bukowski mentioned his debt to Fante in his novel Women; Bukowski ...


Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti

17 December 2015
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... birthplace, a white clapboard house in Hailey, Idaho, for $240,000, out of fear that some lesser purchaser might destroy the heritage. She won a charity raffle prize, a stay at a resort owned by FrancisFordCoppola, and invited Ferlinghetti along. In a ‘run-down beach motel’ the poet composes ‘At Sea’ and dedicates it to Neruda, whom he published for the first time in Rexroth’s ...

What does a chicken know of bombs?

David Thomson: A Key to Brando

25 November 2019
The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando 
by William J. Mann.
HarperCollins, 718 pp., £22, November, 978 0 06 242764 9
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... Brando wandered. He fell in love with the Pacific and took a lease on the atoll of Teti’aroa. His pictures grew less necessary, or compelling, and by 1972 he was scarcely employable. That’s when FrancisCoppola insisted to Paramount that only Brando should play Vito Corleone in The Godfather. Other actors had been mentioned, including Laurence Olivier, Robert Mitchum and Sinatra. But Coppola held ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides

24 October 2019
Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... With this wayward exaltation the question was: where was the real Susan Sontag and what had the mummies done with her? At the end of the mangy, scrambling movie decade that gave us Robert Altman, FrancisFordCoppola, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, there was nary a murmur from her (just imagine what she might have made of Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky). We know from Nunez and others that ...


James Meek: Real Murderers!

7 October 2015
... with Seance magazine in 2009, Vasilyev spoke of the appearance in 2007 of an unnamed ‘main investor’ who had given Khrzhanovsky carte blanche. Some have compared the pre-story of Dau to that of FrancisFordCoppola’s Apocalypse Now, which began shooting in the Philippines in March 1976, ended principal photography in May of the following year, and went on general release more than two years later ...

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