Francis Coppola‘s “little fat girl from Ohio” quote has stuck for the last 21 years. Obit writers will, I suspect, include this along with Coppola’s great films — The Godfather movies, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now — and his winery and Zoetrope and everything else. Have any YouTube girls with the genius of Mozart sprung up since? I guess you could put Lena Dunham on this list.
I called Coppola cold at his Sherry Netherland suite one night in 1981. It was just before One From The Heart opened at the Radio City Music Hall in 1.33 to 1 — an event that 1.85 fascists are quietly seething about to this day. I taped the whole thing and ran the conversation as a q & a in two installments in The Film Journal, which I was the managing editor of at the time.
I was being a bit brash, of course, and I was definitely taking a political risk. Publicists can get very angry if you go around them. And you definitely didn’t want to mess with Renee Furst, who was Coppola’s flack at the time.
I’m now going to admit something that I’ve never admitted to anyone. I was buzzed on quaaludes when I called Coppola that night. Quaaludes loosen inhibitions, and this time they made me brash and cocky enough to just call him and say “hey, man” and keep him on the phone for roughly 90 minutes. (It might have been longer.) I’m not saying I would have chickened out without chemical fortification, but I might have…or I might have cut the call shorter out of politeness. Drugs and alchohol can and will kill careers, but this time — this one time — they helped mine.