17 November 2011 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

If there had been no Zoetrope, the film studio founded by Francis Coppola and George Lucas in San Francisco in 1969, there would be no Star Wars, argues John Patterson

In April 1979, Francis Ford Coppola threw a characteristically grandiose bash to celebrate the completion of Apocalypse Now, the picture that had threatened to become his Waterloo. It was at the apogee of the 1970s Hollywood renaissance, whose directors were suspended in that delightfully rarified moment after their biggest blockbusters and before their flops – and they all had at least one gargantuan flop ahead of them.

Coppola, as usual, was ahead of the game, or so it seemed. Apocalypse Now's chequered production history had produced wild press rumours of directorial overindulgence, perhaps even of a full swandive into film-making insanity, and the film's subsequent lofty place in the cinematic firmament was then far from secure. The film historian Peter Biskind, in his book Easy Riders, »

- John Patterson

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