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McGee | The Brightest Light? Ron McGee Rutgers University The Brightest Light? Jon Lewis. Whom God Wishes to Destroy: Francis Coppola and the New Hollywood. Duke University Press, 1995. ($23.95) hom God Wishes to Destroy is as much about the NewHollywood as it is about the filmmaker who challenged the movie making establishment as a brash young film school product, only to be crushed by the very industry he set out to conquer. The gods here are the major Hollywood studios that in the postwar period still exerted enormous power over individual directors and stars. With the rise of independent film and the arrival of the French New Wave in the 1960s a new breed of director emerged. Clearly Francis Coppola saw himself as an American auteur destined to change the way movies were made. In his tight historical narrative Jon Lewis examines the work of one of Hollywood's most audacious personalities from his signature films (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), to lesser known accomplishments (American Graffiti , Peggy Sue Got Married), to outright failures (One From the Heart, Rumble Fish). The young Coppola was seen as a threat not so much for the bombastic pronouncements and shameless self-promotion as for his successes. Nevertheless, he paid a heavy price for individualism. The distinctive look and the personalistic style he imposed on photodramas are often forgotten and more emphasis placed on lavish film spending that were beautiful to see but bombs at the box office. Coppola produced more than two dozen motion pictures plus his most notable work, The Godfather trilogy. What is less well known is his evolvement with numerous other film projects as executive producer, writer or promoter . Unexpectedly, his promotion of Able Gance's Napoleon drew harsh reviews from the Hollywood community because, initially, his name appeared atop the credits, and, later, because he did not give appropriate credit to the British Film Institute, the group responsible for restoring the aged print of the 1928 masterpiece. Lewis situates Coppola within a changing industry forced to abandon the classic star system, but one struggling to survive in the age ofleveraged buy out. He explores Coppola's screenplays in what he calls the "New Hollywood ." The major contribution of this well written, often funny book is the concise description ofthe emergence of the key players in the industry, many ofwhom have no understanding of the history or inner workings of the business. He decries their unorthodox financial practices that would make most of our heads swirl. Filled with tales of corporate infighting, back-stabbing, and double-dealing, one of the more intriguing episodes describes the clash between veteran Hollywood producer Robert Evans and Coppola for control over Cotton Club. Initially brought on board to save this ailing film, Coppola ends up acrimoniously taking the project away from Evans, the man responsible for bringing the photoplay to the big screen. Despite Hollywood's fear and loathing, Coppola has made formidable contributions to the art of cinema. Lewis lists his technological innovations such as the electronic cinema where video technology was first incorporated into film production. He argues that Coppola was masterful in the use of ambient sound to foreground the soundtrack, to - article continues page 76 72 I Film & History Various I Articles continued from previous pages Braveheartcontinued from page 58 immolation , impalement, and garrote, there is also room for boy-loves-girl tenderness, long walks in the countryside, and an ode to Scottish independence. Saddled on his white horse, Mel Gibson looking dapper with his fake, flowing hair and palsy blue war paint is Everyman's vision of acumen and prowess. The English have invaded their homeland. No problem . Mr. Gibson will push them back to Hadrian's Wall. And ifsome British lord wants to exercise his droit du seigneur. Mr. Gibson will slit the man's throat. The English king, Edward I, plans a nightly assassination. What a joke! Mr. Gibson will entrap the would-be murderers and burn them alive. Need a little romance? Why not take up with Edward's wife and enjoy an after-hours tryst? Who could possibly find out? Overall, Braveheart comes off as one of the most violent screenplays ever made and its...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 72-76
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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