20 notoriously troubled movie sets
'Apocalypse Now' (1979)
Notable participants: Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper
What happened: Hurricanes. Heart attacks. Crazy actors. An actual war. When you watch "Hearts Of Darkness," the documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now," it seems impossible that Francis Ford Coppola ever finished his movie, much less that he made an amazing movie out of what must have felt like uncontrolled chaos. If you can watch that documentary and still want to make movies afterwards, then you are made of the right stuff, indeed. It's hard to pinpoint any one cause for the insanity, but Coppola seems to have put himself in harm's way with the casting, the location, and the process itself. Still, when you look at the end result, this is a case where the madness happening just out of frame absolutely informs the film, making it feel dangerous in every moment. As Coppola said, "This is not a movie about Vietnam. This IS Vietnam."
- Drew McWeeny