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Francis Ford Coppola’s Favorite Movies

The famous American filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola, has made a number of great films over the years, but here are his favorite movies. Francis Ford Coppola is known for classics such as The Godfather, Revelation nowand The conversation. Over a career spanning five decades, Coppola produced both acclaimed blockbusters and obscure cult classics.

Francis Ford Coppola emerged from the New Hollywood movement of the late 60s and 70s. This era of Hollywood cinema was defined by the singular visions of filmmakers who reacted against the conventions of classic Hollywood films. Filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Dennis Hopper, Michael Cimino and Stanley Kubrick made a name for themselves during this time. Coppola was one of the most financially successful filmmakers of the 70s – however, this period of American cinema ended in the 80s with the commercial failures of films like Michael Cimino. The Gate of Paradise and that of Francis Ford Coppola one of the heart.

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One of the defining characteristics of Coppola’s filmography is the director’s ability to adapt to a variety of different genres, as well as different levels of production, from big-budget epics to self-funded independent projects. Coppola’s filmography includes both campy and gothic horror films such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Twixtas well as subtle character dramas like rain people and Tetro. So it makes sense that Francis Ford Coppola’s influences are equally varied and eclectic, ranging from old Hollywood classics to European art cinema. With that in mind, here are the filmmaker’s 10 favorite movies.


Ashes and Diamonds (1958)


Ashes and Diamonds 1958

Ashes and Diamonds is a 1958 Polish drama film directed by Andrzej Wajda. After their failed attempt to assassinate a local secretary of the Polish Workers’ Party, two assassins arrive at a hotel where one of them falls in love with a bartender. What follows is a stylized contemplation of the divided political consciousness of post-war Poland. Former Home Army soldier Maciek must choose between love or a life of violence in this tragic moral tale that will shape the future of Polish cinema. Wajda’s thrilling blend of sleek cinematography and social realism recalls the kind of aesthetic that Coppola would later apply to some of his masterpieces, so it’s no surprise that Ashes and Diamonds was a source of inspiration for the American filmmaker – and it is also one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films.


The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)


William Wyler’s epic drama The best years of our lives follows three WWII veterans as they return home and find their lives changed forever. Similar to Andrzej Wajda’s classic, The best years of our lives deals with social and cultural changes in the aftermath of the war. Wyler’s film focuses more on how veterans reintegrate into normal civilian life and how they come to terms with the fact that they can never regain the innocence of their pre-war lives. Coppola’s interest in the effects of war on a soldier’s psyche in a film like Revelation nowor post-war America in The Godfatherhave their roots in the genre of character drama seen in The best years of our lives.


I Vitelloni (1953)


I Vitelloni

Continuing the trend of Coppola’s interest in post-war dramas in another of the director’s favorite films: Federico Fellini I Vitelloni. This film is an interesting choice as it is one of Federico Fellini’s lesser known films. I Vitelloni follows the lives of five young Italian men in a small coastal town in 1950s Italy. The main characters spend their time wandering aimlessly trying to distract themselves by any means possible, but over the course of the film they are confronted with the imperative need to grow up. The film is considered a milestone in the artistic development of Federico Fellini’s films, setting in place some of the stylistic flourishes that would later become his signature aesthetic.


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The Bad Sleep (1960)


The first of two Akira Kurosawa films on Francis Ford Coppola’s list of favorite films is the 1960 crime mystery, The bad sleep. Coppola once said of the famous Japanese filmmaker, “One thing that sets Akira Kurosawa apart is that he didn’t do one masterpiece or two masterpieces, he did, you know, eight masterpieces.” So it’s no surprise to see Kurosawa appear on this list twice. The bad sleep is a revenge thriller about a young man who marries the daughter of a corrupt businessman in order to avenge her father’s suicide. The film is known for its tragic and nihilistic outlook and is clearly an influence on some of Coppola’s more pessimistic films.

Yojimbo (1961)


Akira Kurosawa’s films have influenced many American filmmakers in various ways, so it’s no surprise to see two of his films among Coppola’s favorites. However, the connection between Kurosawa’s 1961 classic, Yojimbo, and Coppola’s own style may not be so obvious, given that the American filmmaker never made a samurai film set in the late Edo period, and was usually only not too interested in making action movies. However, Kurosawa’s sense of shot composition and talent for creating tension through meticulous editing and blocking has been an inspiration to many filmmakers, regardless of genre.


Let’s Sing in the Rain (1952)


Considering Francis Ford Coppola’s love of musicals (as seen in one of the heart and Tetro) it’s no surprise to find a classic Hollywood musical like Sing in the rain on this list. Romantic comedy from Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen about three actors caught up in the transition from silent film to “talkies” is one of the most beloved and acclaimed Hollywood films of the 1950s and would likely be a nostalgic memory for Coppola, who was only 13 when the film was released.

The King of Comedy (1982)


by Martin Scorsese The king of comedy is a satirical dark comedy about a wacky budding comedian, played by Robert De Niro, who dreams of appearing on a popular talk show. The film is a prescient look at celebrity culture and the desperate lengths some people will go to for their 15 minutes of fame. The film’s very particular brand of black comedy has been very influential, as viewers can find echoes of Robert De Niro’s character in Jokerfor example.

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Raging Bull (1980)


Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

Scorsese’s second film on this list, angry bull, is a sports biopic based on the life of middleweight boxing champion, Jake LaMotta. One of the filmmaker’s most acclaimed works, angry bull is a brilliant character study that uses black-and-white cinematography and subtle experimental flourishes to depict the downward spiral of the boxer’s life. The tension between conflicting family duties and self-destructive urges is a theme angry bull shares with much of Coppola’s filmography.

The Apartment (1960)


Jack Lemmon in The Apartment

The classic 1960 comedy, The apartment, tells the story of an insurance agent, played by Jack Lemmon, who, in hopes of improving his situation at work, allows senior colleagues to use his apartment for their extramarital affairs. Due to its lovable characters, witty dialogues, and perfect narrative structure, Billy Wilder’s The apartment became one of the greatest American comedies of all time.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)


By far the oldest film among Francis Ford Coppola’s 10 favorite films is FW Murnau’s 1927 romantic drama, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Murnau’s combination of German Expressionist art design with Hollywood romance, as well as the film’s remarkable shifts in tone, are what transformed Sunrise in an early Hollywood classic. It’s not hard to see what Francis Ford Coppola finds so inspiring in this particular film, with its fairy-tale atmosphere, comedic outing on the town and elegant settings – it’s perfect Francis Ford Coppolais the alley.

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