Francis Ford Coppola
One of America's most erratic, energetic and controversial filmmakers, Francis Ford Coppola enjoyed stunning triumphs and endured monumental setbacks before resurrecting himself, Phoenix-like, to begin the process all over again. Known primarily for his successful "Godfather" trilogy - "The Godfather" (1972), "The Godfather, Part II" (1974) and "The Godfather, Part III" (1990) - Coppola was the most celebrated of the Young Turks - a group of filmmakers who emerged in the early 1970s that included George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma and William Friedkin. Unbridled by his ambition and enthusiasm, and perhaps obsessive to the point of being manic, Coppola infused a fervent creative energy into his early work, culminating in "Apocalypse Now" (1979), a journey into his own heart of darkness that irrevocably altered his career and may have even caused permanent psychological damage. Renowned for his generosity with other filmmakers, Coppola served as a fierce promoter of others' films, championing the work of Wim Wenders, Paul Schrader and Akira Kurosawa, while playing an important part in the restoration of Abel Gance's classic silent film, "Napoleon" (1927). The quality of his directing fell off throughout the 1980s and 1990s, however, and the big studios - remembering his colossal box-office failures - became leery of backing his more personal projects, preferring instead to employ him as a hired gun on the likes of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) and "The Rainmaker" (1997), which helped the director pay off his enormous debts. Nonetheless, Coppola - having been responsible for directing three of the greatest films in cinema history - remained forever a legend.