I love movie trailers. To be honest, it's one of my favorite things about going to the movies. After you get through about 10 minutes worth of commercials you always hope to see a preview for a movie that makes you go "wow, I have to go see that". When the movie that you paid to see is about to start and you have a brief moment where you don't remember what you're watching then you know you've seen some great previews.
This is the first of what will be an ongoing series that looks at some of the greatest movie trailers of all time.
Release Date: August 15, 1979
Starring: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburn, and Harrison Ford
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Major Awards: Nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Robert Duvall. Won 2 Oscars for Best Cinematography & Best Sound.
Box Office: $78 million in North America & $150 million worldwide
In 1997 I was working at a video store and probably watched/listened to this trailer close to 100 times. I worked at a Video Update and we had to play these VHS tapes that had a loop of movie trailers on them. My favorite one was a tape that was from the early 80's that had trailers for Star Wars, Cannonball Run, and The World According to Garp on it. My absolute favorite preview on that tape was the one for Apocalypse Now.
Everything about this trailer is great. The first thing that you'll notice is that there is no annoying voice over saying crap like "in a world where.." or "meet Captain Willard". You get hit with the cryptic "The End" by the Doors and see a bunch of explosions in the jungle followed by a glimpse of the insane hotel room scene introducing Captain Willard.
After that we get a shot of a young Harrison Ford sending Martin Sheen on his mission to kill Colonel Kurtz. You know you're in for something special when Willard is told to terminate him "with extreme prejudice".
They do a great job of setting up the story and they follow it up by showing small glimpses of all the movies classic scenes:
- "Ride of the Valkyries" scene
- Robert Duvall "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" line
- Playboy concert scene
- Willard arriving at Kurtz headquarters
- A snippet of Dennis Hopper's insane speech
You also get treated to essential Vietnam songs like "Suzie Q" by Creedence Clearwater Revival and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones. At the end of the trailer we're reminded that this movie is from Francis Ford Coppola who at this point had already directed "The Godfather", "The Godfather Part II", and "The Conversation". There's a lot to take in, but the trailer does a great job of showing that the movie is bat-shit crazy.
The actual movie production was a plagued with problems. I recommend watching the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse which covers Coppola nearly going not only broke but mad during the production. Today the movie stands as not only one of the best films about the Vietnam War but also one of the best films to come out of the 1970's.
What are some of your favorite movie trailers?