Coppola, Francis Ford (kōˈpəˌlə) [key], 1939–, American film director, b. Detroit. Coppola began his career directing low-budget films and working on screenplays for other directors. He won his first Academy Award for Patton (1970) and firmly established his reputation with The Godfather (1972; Academy Award). In this film, he converted an unambitious novel about the Corleone family and organized crime into a subtle portrait of the immigrant experience in America. He created an even more expansive version of this story in The Godfather Part II (1974; Academy Award). Apocalypse Now (1979) was Coppola's ambitious effort to show Vietnam as America's Heart of Darkness, with Joseph Conrad's story providing the narrative skeleton; an expanded cut of the film entitled Apocalypse Now Redux was released 22 years later. His post- Apocalypse films, including The Outsiders (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), and Tucker (1987), varied widely in quality, but he returned to top form with The Godfather, Part III (1990), which brought the story of the Corleones into the 1980s. In 1992, Coppola turned to the horror genre with his version of the vampire classic, Bram Stoker's Dracula. Thereafter he focused more on the making of wines from his California vineyards. In 2007 he released Youth without Youth, a complex film about a man who mysteriously recovers his lost youth, adapted from a novella by Mircea Eliade.
See biography by M. Schumacher (1999).