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…

Peter Shaffer

1926 (Liverpool) - 2016 (County Cork, Ireland)

Shaffer’s gift was for writing plays exploring metaphysical themes – and also farces – that became popular hits, and sometimes successful films. Brook, dissatisfied with their efforts to write a script for ‘Lord of the Flies’, filmed without. Shaffer was reluctant to work with Forman, who took two years to convince him a film of a play is in fact a new work; thereafter they worked intensively for four months on the script for ‘Amadeus’. Guare interviewed his fellow-playwright, and shared a taste for Wilkie Collins; Stoppard, a longtime friend, said Shaffer was the only contemporary he was jealous of.

Peter Shaffer knew…

Sergio Leone

1929 (Rome) – 1989 (Rome)

Leone revitalised the genre of the western, sweeping away older conventions and deepening its moral complexity. As a young man he assisted de Sica, Donati and visiting American directors including Walsh (who told him the western was finished) and Wyler. Morricone, a crucial collaborator, had been a schoolfriend; Bertolucci and Donati also worked with him. Leone asked Mailer to help with a script before realising it was not his forte, and was warned by Welles against making one of his most memorable films. Scorsese, a great admirer, got his Sicilian mother to cook for him in her Lower East Side apartment.

Sergio Leone knew…

  • Mario Soldati
  • Orson Welles
  • Norman Mailer
  • Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Paul Schrader
  • Federico Fellini
  • Ennio Morricone
  • Vittorio de Sica
  • Sergio Donati
  • Sam Peckinpah
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Costa-Gavras
  • Raoul Walsh
  • William Wyler

Jacques Prévert

1900 (Neuilly-s-Seine, France) – 1977 (Ormonville-la-Petite)

Prévert met Tanguy and Duhamel on military service, Tanguy in France and Duhamel in Istanbul. Duhamel gave lodging to both (as well as Queneau and Péret), while Breton, Desnos, Aragon and Artaud regularly joined in surrealist activities there (the house became one of the main centres for the movement). Breton, whom he later broke with, said that Prévert did not yet excel except in the art of living. As screenwriter, he worked on films with Renoir, Carné, Grémillon, Ivens, Grimault, and Pierre Prévert; he also worked on an animation with Grimault. Kosma set his words to music, and Gréco sang them.