francis ford coppola and samuel goldwyn -- 6/5/20

Today's selection -- from Letters from Hollywood by Rocky Lang & Barbara Hall. Francis Ford Coppola, who would make Hollywood history with his Godfather films, was starting in his career when he wrote to Hollywood powerhouse Samuel Goldwyn:

December 10, 1966

Dear Mr. Goldwyn,

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude not only for the start you gave to me, but for the continuing interest in my film career. I don't think you can ever know how inspiring it is to know that one of the very corner-stones of the world film industry is aware of you, and hopes for your success. This is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life.
I have found the pathway very difficult; many compromises are asked of me, and I have had great disappointments in the films that were made of my writing. In a number of cases, my scripts were re-written during shooting and the results were most disheartening. Nonetheless, I look at this business of film making with the most excitement, awe and seriousness, and will keep working toward my goal, which is to make a film that has warmth and humanity, two characteristics which I feel are lacking in most of today's films.

Francis Ford Coppola, 1976

In 'You're a Big Boy Now', which I understand you will see on Sunday, and which I hope you will enjoy, I attempted to make a contemporary film, told in the venacular of today's youth, but which is basically innocent, and expresses some of the love that I feel for people in general, and innocent young people in specific.

Looking at the film, I know I made many mistakes, -- and there are things that I would do differently if given the chance ... but done is done, and I look forward to the opportunity of making a second film, one in which I can apply all the things I learned from the first.

Thank you most sincerely once again; not only do I hope you like this film, but more important, that you see an improvement in the films I will make in the future.


Francis Coppola

"Francis Ford Coppola was a young writer-director just starting his career when he wrote this letter to Sam Goldwyn, then approaching the end of his tenure as one of Hollywood's most important independent producers. In May 1962, when he was a graduate student studying film-making at UCLA, Coppola had won the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Creative Writing Award for an original screenplay called Pilma, Pilma. Goldwyn had established the prestigious award in 1955 in order to encourage and develop young writers, and he had been on hand to personally present the $2,000 award to Coppola. Four years later, Coppola had worked as an assistant on several films for Roger Corman, made a couple of low-budget movies, written two screenplays for studio films, and already started working on Patton, a script that would finally come to the screen in 1970. You're a Big Boy Now, however, was Coppola's first opportunity to write and direct a film for a major studio, and it marked the arrival of a new voice in an industry that was in transition. Sam Goldwyn died in 1974, the same year that Coppola released The Godfather Part II, the film that would win him three Academy Awards, for directing, writing, and best picture."



Rocky Lang & Barbara Hall


Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking




Copyright 2019 Rocky Lang and Barbara Hall


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