Widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood’s most innovative and influential film directors, American film director, producer and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola was born April 7th in 1939. He epitomized the group of filmmakers known as the New Hollywood, that includes Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman, Woody Allen, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich, and Brian De Palma who emerged in the early 1970s with unconventional ideas that challenged contemporary film-making.
He co-wrote the script for Patton (1970), which won an Academy Award for Original Screenplay. His directorial fame escalated with the release of The Godfather (1972), a film which revolutionized movie-making in the gangster genre, earning praise from critics and public alike. It won three Academy Awards, including his second, for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was instrumental in cementing his position as a prominent American film director. Coppola followed it with a critically successful sequel, The Godfather Part II (1974), which became the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film was highly praised and won him three Academy Awards—for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The Conversation, which Coppola directed, produced and wrote, was released that same year, winning the Palme d’Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. He next directed Apocalypse Now (1979); notorious for its overlong and strenuous production, but critically acclaimed for its vivid and stark depiction of the Vietnam War, winning the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.
To this day, Coppola is one of only six filmmakers to win two Palme d’Or awards, and is the only filmmaker to win both in the same decade. Many of Coppola’s ventures in the 1980s and 1990s were also critically lauded, but he has never quite achieved the same success as he did in the 1970s. His daughter Sofia is also a successful Director in her own right.