He has directed The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. Those four movies alone ensure that he is in the Pantheon of Great Directors and puts him on this list. The reason that he's not any higher on this list than 67? Jack. What an abortion of a movie that was. See I bet you thought I was going to say The Godfather Part III. And yes, that was terrible and nearly ruined the series. But, as Meat Loaf (or, as the New York Times calls him, Mr. Loaf) once sang, "Two out of three ain't bad."
The first two Godfather movies were possibly the two greatest films ever made and both are almost certainly in the top five, if one was being particularly harsh. Interestingly, Coppola was almost fired from directing the original because Paramount, and Robert Evans specifically, was unhappy with some of his casting decisions. In particular, Evans hated the casting of Pacino as Michael Corleone and referred to him as "that midget, Pacino." Let that sink in for a moment.
It is staggering to think of who MIGHT have played Michael in the film:
- Ryan O'Neill
- Robert Redford
- Robert DeNiro
- James Caan
- Dustin Hoffman
- Martin Sheen
Also considered to play the role of the Don, were Spencer Tracy and Laurence Olivier. Luckily, Coppola stuck to his guns, casted Pacino and Marlon Brando, and created a masterpiece.
Now that I have established his greatness, I must proceed to rip Francis Ford Coppola a new one. I mean, there's Jack, a movie about a boy who ages at four times the normal rate. So the protagonist, at the age of ten, looks like Robin Williams (poor kid). An abomination, it pushed Robin Williams toward making more sentimental drivel like Bicentenial Man, which, if you think about it, is just Jack but the opposite. For this alone, Coppola deserves some scorn.
And then there is the thorny issue of Godfather Part III. It wasn't a bad movie. Really. It just didn't live up to the expectations created by its predecessors, which were two of the greatest films ever created. Still, Coppola deserves some criticism for casting his daughter, Sofia, in a central role as Michael's daughter Mary. To be fair, the first two films were made with a measure of nepotism when Coppola cast his sister, Talia Shire in the role of Connie. The difference is that Shire is a competent actress and, despite the fact that Sofia had been in the original film as the baby in the baptism scenes, well Sofia Coppola was a gawdawful actress. Her woodenness more or less ruined the movie and Francis Ford Coppola deserves a big wagging finger of shame for that.
On the other hand, according to George Lucas, Coppola is the inspiration for the character of Han Solo in Star Wars. So that's some redemption.
Also at the Oscars this year, in the picture above, Coppola wore a blue tie with his tuxedo and somehow managed to make George Lucas look well-dressed, which is a real accomplishment.
Next on the list, one of history's true Renaissance Men-- an artist, engineer, mathematician, inventor, and musician. Sadly, of late his name has been appropriated for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a shitty novel, and a shittier Tom Hanks movie.