Coppola’s Monster Film

The Making of Apocalypse Now


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About the Book

In 1975, after his two Godfather epics, Francis Ford Coppola went to the Philippines to film Apocalypse Now. He scrapped much of the original script, a jingoistic narrative of U.S. Special Forces winning an unwinnable war. Harvey Keitel, originally cast in the lead role, was fired and replaced by Martin Sheen, who had a heart attack. An overweight Marlon Brando, paid a huge salary, did more philosophizing than acting. It rained almost every day and a hurricane wiped out the set. The Philippine government promised the use of helicopters but diverted them at the last minute to fight communist and Muslim separatists.
Coppola filmed for four years with no ending in the script. The shoot threatened to be the biggest disaster in movie history. Providing a detailed snapshot of American cinema during the Vietnam War, this book tells the story of how Apocalypse Now became one of the great films of all time.

About the Author(s)

Steven Travers, a former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oakland A’s, is the author of 30 books and has written for the Los Angeles Times, StreetZebra magazine and the San Francisco Examiner. A USC graduate, he lives in California.

Bibliographic Details

Steven Travers
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6425-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2449-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. Kurtz 7
2. Godfather of ’em All 15
3. Protégé 24
4. “The End” 41
5. Zen Anarchist 50
6. “University of Northern California Graduate Film School” 58
7. Shooting Star 69
8. Patton 74
9. “That was like raising a red flag in front of a young bull” 83
10. Hubris 95
11. Ordeal in the Jungle 104
12. “I was going to the worst place in the world” 114
13. “Kill … gore” 120
14. “He’s not dead unless I say he’s dead” 124
15. “I felt like von Rundstedt going to see Hitler” 129
16. Prima Donna 139
17. “He took a face from the ancient gallery” 148
18. “Apocalypse When?” 155
19. “It’s not about Vietnam—it is Vietnam” 164
20. Triumph 167
21. The Milius Screenplay 190
22. “I’ve been blacklisted as surely as anybody in the ’50s” 198
23. Postscript 202
Chapter Notes 215
Bibliography 221
Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “If you want to know everything about the famed 1979 film, Apocalypse Now, this is the book for you. Seemingly every detail is to be found between these covers”—VVA Veteran
  • “Few films have as fascinating a production history as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now…recommended…insights into Coppola, Milius, and Lucas rarely found in other biographies”—The Journal of American Culture
  • “Highly recommended”—M.G. Paregian, Publisher.