22-year old UCLA student Francis Ford Coppola directing The Peeper, which was developed into Tonight for Sure (1962).Many a struggling young filmmaker has taken advantage of the quick money and relative anonymity of, um, adult entertainment early in their career. Wes Craven and Barry Sonnenfeld worked on porn sets to pay the bills, and future Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola’s first two directorial efforts, from 1962, were in the “nudie cutie” vein — softcore movies, from back when naked flesh on-screen was still a big deal. According to Jami Bernard’s invaluable book First Films, Coppola directed a short called “The Peeper” while still at UCLA film school; it concerned a bumbling peeping Tom trying to catch a glimpse of skin during a photo shoot. “The Peeper” was joined with another short by another young filmmaker and released as Tonight for Sure. He was then hired to add new, nudity-and-slapstick material to a 1958 German movie, which was re-titled The Bellboy and the Playgirls. But Coppola discovered he was too soft-hearted for the nudie racket: “There was a 3-D scene where we had to have five girls sitting at their dressers,” he recalled, “and they were hired and paid to do this. One of the girls came to me and said, ‘I’m only seventeen and my father is going to kill me.’ So I said, ‘Well, okay, leave your brassiere on.’ So there were these four girls, plus one who has a bra on, and I got fired because they were complaining they paid the girls five hundred dollars. So this has been one of the themes in my life. Maybe when I’m eighty I’ll break through the nudity barrier.” —Jason Bailey, The Embarrassing Early Films of Oscar-Winning Directors
The themes of voyeurism in The Peeper would return in one of Coppola’s finest films, 1974’s The Conversation. And Coppola’s 1996 film Jack would confirm what The Bellboy hinted: that his gifts are not in the realm of comedy.
With thanks to LoSceicco1976 for the photo
Clint Eastwood photographed by John Bryson, c. 1970s.
Francis Ford Coppola on the future of film (circa 1991):
"Suddenly one day some little fat girl in Ohio is gonna be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her little father’s camera-corder. And for once the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed forever, and it’ll really become an art form.”
Coppola casually predicts how filmmaking will change with the advent of handheld, consumer-friendly cameras. How’s it feel to be a prophet, Frank?
Fingers crossed we get to meet this awesome Ohioan Mozart and her small father soon.