It's always a treat when Cinema Retro subscriber Rory Monteith delves into his collection of vintage photos and makes a contribution to our site. This time, Rory has unearthed a wonderful photo of Times Square in June 1965. Note the billboard for director Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. On Broadway, Gwen Verdon was starring in Sweet Charity years before the film version would be made. Sammy Davis Jr. was also starring in Golden Boy. Rory advises that the theater showing Magnificent Men was the now-defunct DeMille Theater which had previously been known as The Mayfair. It was here that Frankenstein premiered in 1931. (see original ad below)
Paramount has released one of the all time great documentaries, Hearts of Darkness which critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel both called the best movie of 1991. The film is a detailed and brutally frank look at the debacle that occurred behind the scenes during the years in which Francis Ford Coppola worked on Apocalypse Now. Few filmmakers would be secure enough to allow a major film to be released showing them on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but Coppola has always been a maverick. His wife Eleanor went along with him to the Phillipines to film what was envisioned as a stanard behind-the-scenes publicity featurette for the big budget Vietnam War epic. However, as events spun out of control, Eleanor captured her husband at his most vulnerable moments - sometimes filming him surrpetitiously. What emerges is a fascinating look at a man trying to cope with disasters of Biblical proportions as the filming drags on from months to years. Among the crisis Coppola must deal with:
The unreliablity of the Phillipine military which had been contracted to provide helicopters and arms. As the dictator Marcos strove to hang on to power, the helicopters would be called away from the cinematic battles to fight real ones in the jungle against insurgents. Coppola is seen dealing with how to occupy an expensive cast and crew in the midst of a battle scene that cannot continue.
Coppola's decision to fire leading man Harvey Keitel shortly after filming commenced.
Replacement leading man Martin Sheen suffering a massive heart attack in the midst of filming
A typhoon destroys the entire production company's HQ and expensive sets.
Coppola, over schedule and over-budget, is forced to hock everything he has to pay for the budget increases.
Star Marlon Brando's arrival on the set- unprepared,uncooperative and grossly overweight.
All of this makes for a mesmerizing cinematic experience and is in itself a great work of art about one of the greatest films made during the 1970s. The DVD is devoid of any extras except an interesting featurette by Eleanor Coppola showing her husband directing his first film in a decade, the little-seen new art house movie Youth Without Youth. Coppola seems to know the movie stands no chance of finding a wide audience yet is enthused and energetic about bringing the story to the screen. Such passion is in rare supply today - as are filmmakers of his caliber.- Lee Pfeiffer
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