Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola was among a small group who revitalised American film-making in the 1970’s. Corman gave the young graduate his first break, later advising against shooting in the Philippines. He established a production company with his lifelong friend Lucas, and directed Brando in two of the three films that rescued his reputation. Among the ‘masters’ he honoured and met were Kurosawa and Polanski; he also championed Wenders, though their collaboration proved a fraught one. Vidal, who wrote a script with him, described him as post-Gutenberg — the first writer he’d met for whom it was all about film.

Francis Ford Coppola knew…

Dudley Murphy

1897 (Winchester, Mass.) – 1968 (Mexico City)

If Murphy is remembered today, it is for an avant-garde classic, and for the film that introduced Paul Robeson to a wide public; Antheil said he was uncorrupted by Hollywood, though he also directed some real turkeys. Pound was early involved in ‘Ballet Mécanique’, while Ray dropped out when Murphy brought in Léger, who then took most of the credit. Murphy cleared his house to exhibit Siqueiros’ paintings, discussed montage with Eisenstein, played poker with Hammett, got drunk with Joyce, helped Ames with visual perception experiments, and directed Smith in her only film role. Neutra designed his holiday apartments, where the food made Saroyan ill.

Dudley Murphy knew…

John Grierson

1898 (Deanston, Scotland) – 1972 (Bath, England)

Grierson is best known for bringing creative individuals productively together, and was a pivotal figure in British and Canadian film culture. He worked as a young cameraman for Huxley. He met Flaherty (a strong influence) in the U.S.; reviewing Flaherty’s ‘Moana’, he was the first in English to employ the term ‘documentary’. McLaren, Lye, Cavalcanti, Jennings, Auden, Lee, Britten all worked for his renowned G.P.O. Film Unit, McLaren following him to Canada. The emigrée Reiniger made some films for him. Eisenstein (another formative influence) attended the première of Grierson’s ‘Drifters’. He said art was not a mirror, but a hammer.

John Grierson knew…

Marcel Carné

1906 (Paris) – 1996 (Clamart, France)

Carné was a significant director of films from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Jacques Prévert was his great collaborator, writing scripts for his most celebrated and poetic films. Kosma was also a noted collaborator. Barrault and Brel acted for him, Boiffard shot stills. Early in his career, Clair had given him a foot up, engaging him as second assistant director.