Having earned the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with his work on 1970 film Patton, Coppola went on to cement his status as one of the most important directors of all time when he released The Godfather two years later; a picture that went on to scoop three Academy Awards at the Oscars in 1973. “The Godfather was a very unappreciated movie when we were making it,” Coppola once said of the film. “They were very unhappy with it. They didn’t like the cast. They didn’t like the way I was shooting it. I was always on the verge of getting fired. So it was an extremely nightmarish experience.”
The director added: “I had two little kids, and the third one was born during that. We lived in a little apartment, and I was basically frightened that they didn’t like it. They had as much as said that, so when it was all over I wasn’t at all confident that it was going to be successful, and that I’d ever get another job.”
Such adversity followed Coppola around when he was pioneering his unique style. Financiers who ploughed money into his project became daunted by his ambition and, when pressure began to ramp up, doubted his overall vision. Despite that, the directer definitely remained committed to the cause, a quality which is summed up perfectly by the brutal on set working conditions of Apocalypse Now which tested the mental wellbeing of all involved.
While Coppola has always claimed that his style was tremendously influenced by his brother, August, the director has often cited and celebrated the work of his peers as driving motivation. When discussing the great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Coppola said: “One thing that distinguishes Akira Kurosawa is that he didn’t just make a masterpiece or two masterpieces. He made eight masterpieces,” so it should come as little surprise two of those eight pictures appears in list of his favourite films.
A few years ago Coppola was invited by Sight and Sound magazine to detail what he believed to be ten of the greatest films ever made. While Kurosawa is heavily represented, Coppola also gave a nod of the head to the likes of Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese, Billy Wilder and more.
See the fill list, below.
Francis Ford Coppola’s top 10 favourite films:
Ashes And Diamonds – Andrzej Wajda, 1958.
The Best Years Of Our Lives – William Wyler, 1946.
I Vitelloni – Federico Fellini, 1953.
The Bad Sleep Well – Akira Kurosawa, 1960.
Yojimbo – Akira Kurosawa, 1961.
Singin’ In The Rain – Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952.