SNL Transcripts: Martin Sheen: 12/15/79: Apocalypse Now


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 5: Episode 7

79g: Martin Sheen / David Bowie

Apocalypse Now

Josh Caine…..Martin Sheen
Herb Carp…..Harry Shearer
Lynn Memily…..Jane Curtin
Francis Ford Coppola…..Bill Murray
Herbert Rice…..Garrett Morris
Gary Kreps…..Tom Davis
Extra #2…..Akira Yoshimura
Marlon Brando…..Alan Zweibel
Phil…..Al Franken
Janine…..Gilda Radner
Andrea…..Laraine Newman

[ open on close-up of Josh Caine lying with his head hanging over the side of his bed, as The Doors’ “The End” plays ]

Josh Caine V/O: Hollywood. I can’t believe I’m still in Hollywood. I’ve been here 48 hours now, and I’m bored out of my mind, sitting in my hotel room listening to the same Doors tape, waiting to take a meeting. [ he lifts himself upright and grabs a bottle of liquor ] United Artists had phoned me in from New York. They said they had a real choice assignment for me, and when it was over… I’d want to get out of the business.

[ suddenly, there’s a knock at the door ]

Josh Caine: Yeah!

[ Josh jumps up to open the door ]

Herb Carp: Josh! Josh! Herb Carp, United Artists.

Josh Caine: Hello, Herb.

[ they shake hands ]

Herb Carp: It’s good to see you.

Josh Caine: It’s good to see you.

Herb Carp: Josh Caine, this is Lynn Memily, my assistant. Lynn, Josh Caine.

Lynn Memily: It’s a pleasure!

Josh Caine: Come on in!

Lynn Memily: Why don’t I just set up the tape?

Herb Carp: That’s a good idea. [ he steps forward ] Josh… the project we’re gonna talk about today is, uh, kind of special… so I thought maybe, instead of taking the meeting at the office, we’d take it here.

Josh Caine: Why, sure! Sit down. [ they sit on the edge of the bed ] Uh… you mind telling me what this is all about?

Herb Carp: [ he opens his briefcase ] Josh… you ever heard of… Francis Ford Coppola? [ he hands a dossier over to Josh ]

Josh Caine: Well, I’ve heard the name.

Herb Carp: Francis was… one of our fienst directors. He was absolutely one of the best

Josh Caine: Was?

Herb Carp: Coppola’s out in the Phillippines, maing a film for us called… [ he chuckles ] “Apocalypse Now”.

Josh Caine: [ he laughs ] It’s a strange title for a movie, isn’t it?

Herb Carp: Yeah. We wanted him to change it. Hey — what do you think of “Never Say Retreat”?

Josh Caine: “Never Say Retreat”?

Lynn Memily: [ sitting down ] I like it!

Herb Carp: Thank you, honey. Josh, when a director is out on location, things happen. Uh… he starts rewriting, improvising… he loses all sense of reality, he goes… he goes over budget.

Lynn Memily: Coppola’s surrounded by a production crew who worship him like a god. They follow his every order, no matter how ridiculous!

Herb Carp: And no matter how much it costs. The original budget was $2 million — the last we heard, he was up to $30. I mean, who knows? Lynn, honey, would you play the cassette for us?

Lynn Memily: Great. [ she crosses the room ] Now, uh — this is the msot recent recording of Coppola. It’s at last year’s Oscar ceremony.

[ she turns the video on, as Coppola appears on the screen ]

Francis Ford Coppola: And, uh, I’d just like to say that the film industry — what we call filming — we’re gonna do such GREAT things in the 80’s! You know, it’s gonna make the Industrial Revolution look like last night’s plutonium! I mean, we’re talking about sattelites and video discs, uh, laser steroes… huge, huge extension cords —

Josh Caine: As I listened to his rambling, incoherent speech, it all became clear: Coppola was quite completely insane.

Herb Carp: Honey, turn it off.

[ Lynn turns the tape off ]

Herb Carp: Josh, every man has his breaking point — Coppola’s reached his. His ideas and methods are… well, they’re unsound. He’s out there on location, operating without ANY human restraint. Your job is to go to the Phillippines, find Coppola, and TERMINATE production of this film.

Josh Caine: You mean, pull the plug?

Herb Carp: [ he sighs heavily ] Pull the plug, with extreme prejudice.

Josh Caine: Yes, sir.

Herb Carp: [ to Lynn ] Honey… the man’s got some thinking to do, let’s go.

Josh Caine: Right.

[ they collect their things and head for the door ]

Herb Carp: Oh, Josh?

Josh Caine: Yes, sir?

Herb Carp: One more thing: When you get back… let’s have lunch!

Josh Caine: Yes, sir.

[ dissolve to an airplane taking off ]

Josh Caine V/O: I left the next morning, via Charlie Jet to Manila. It was a trip of 8,000 miles, and my flight took me over the Pacific — an endless expanse of ocean that seemed to lead to just one thing: Coppola. It was a long flight, but United Artists had given me their dossier on Coppola, so I had plenty of reading to do.

[ dissolve to Josh on the plane, reading copies of Variety and other entertainment publications ]

Josh Caine V/O: He had an amazing career. Almost too amazing. When he started on, he was a studio’s dream. He brought in pictures ahead of schedule and under budget. “The Godfather” — made in three weeks for a cost of $35,000; then “Godfather II”, $15,000. But when he started to work on “Apocalypse Now”, all that changed. Coppola had been in the jungle six months, when the bills started coming in to the studio. An invoice from Bell Aviation, for blowing up 800 helicopters: $4.5 million; The Cambodian Ministry of the Interior, for blowing up a fifth century temple: $7 million; The Phillipine Army Corps of Engineers, for building a subterranean city: $11 million; Manila Demolition, for blowing up subterranean city: $1.5 million; and so on, and so on. No wonder they wanted this guy stopped.

[ dissolve to map with toy airplane moving across the ocean ]

Josh Caine V/O: When I got to Manila, I was hit with some bad news. A tropical storm had washed out all roads to the shooting location. The only route left was the river, and Coppola had rented every boat in the country — al except one.

[ dissolve to close-up of Manila on map, with a toy boat moving up the river ]

Josh Caine V/O: My companion on the trip was the United Artists distributor for southeast Asia — Herbert Rice. The studio had kept him in the dark about Coppola, and he wasn’t too happy about it.

[ disslve to Josh and Herbert foot-paddling a boat ]

Herbert Rice: WHERE are we going?! I DEMAND to know where we’re going! That’s right!

Josh Caine: We’re going up-river, and that’s all you need to know!

Herbert Rice: Hey, man, look — I don’t HAVE to do this, now! I am a film distributor! My job is to get the posters up, get the ad in the paper, and mae SURE somebody’s answering that phone! Now, I-I-I-I got everybody on my back, asking me where is “Apocalypse Now” What is that man Coppola doing? It’s been THREE years! “Coming Home”‘s out! “Deer Hunter”‘s out! Al the Vietnam films are out! Man, it’s EMBARRASSING! Especially here in Southeast Asia, man! If it hadn’t been for “Rocky”, man, I’d have lost ALL of my theaters in Burma!

Josh Caine V/O: The day we left Manila, I received a message from the studio with a very interesting item. Evidently, I wasn’t the first ax-man they’d sent to stop Coppola/ Gary Kreps, one of the studio’s most feared executives, had gone in three months before. There’d been no word until a week ago, when his family received this letter: “Sell the Merceds, sell the jacuzzi, drain the pool, forget it. I’m not coming back.” I knew Coppola was close now — real close.

Herbert Rice: [ pointing ] Look around the bend! It’s the “Apocalypse” set, man!

[ cut to approaching jungle setting ]

Josh Caine V/O: And there it was: The most expensive, realistic set in movie history.

[ dissolve to actors walking around a lunch setting ]

Josh Caine V/O: Evidently, we had arrived at lunch time.

Extra #1: Can you believe Brando? We are talking six-hundred pounds!

Extra #2: Tell me about it — the Viet Cong could last six months on what he just had for breakfast.

[ Josh enters the set ]

Josh Caine: Uh — excuse me. Does anybody know where I could find Francis Ford Coppola? I’ve gotta talk to him.

Extra #3: No. You don’t talk to Francis — you take direction from Francis.

Josh Caine: I don’t mind that. Where can I find him?

Extra #4: Well… he might be… over… at the full-scale replica… of OZ!

Extra #5: You idiot! That was blown up a week ago!

Extra #4: Oh, yeah?

[ Kreps, made up the same as the natives, approaches ]

Josh Caine: Oh! Hey, Kreps! You’re Kreps, aren’t you?

Gary Kreps: [ surprised ] Josh Caine! How the hell are you? [ they shake hands ]

Josh Caine: I’m okay. You’re the guy the studio sent out. What happened?

Gary Kreps: Oh, geez — I’m great! I mean, working with Francis here has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! You know, I came out here to clip his wing,s but he liked the way I read his contract so much, that he put me into a couple of scenes, and one thing led to another and… well… to make a long story short, be looking for this guy in the Underground City scene, okay? I mean, we had built this incredible subterranean city — we blew it up, of course — but I’m ALL OVER IT! It’s MY scene! I’m really excited!

Extra #4: Hey! I heard… that scene… was CUT!

Gary Kreps: NO!!

Extra #4: Yes.

Gary Kreps: NO!!

Josh Caine: Never mind about that. Where the hell is Coppola?

Gary Kreps: Uh — he’s probably trying to get Brando out of his trailer.

Josh Caine: What do you mean, trai — Brando won’t come out of his trailer?

Gary Kreps: Oh, don’t worry. They’ll do it just like last week. They just have to take the door off.

[ suddenly, Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola enter the set ]

Francis Ford Coppola: Alright, we’re out now. Relax. We got you out. Okay, now, look — I promise you we’ll get you a bigger trailer, i’ll get you one of those Genie Load-a-matic garage openers, you’ll be in and out with no problem. Alright, why don’t you get a bite. You’re beautiful, Marlon! You know that? You’re beautiful, you are. [ he kisses Brando’s forehead ] Why don’t you go get a bite, I’ll talk to my staff about how to shoot this next spot, okay? Thank you.

[ Brando walks away ]

Josh Caine V/O: There he was — just what I’d expected. And I wondered if I was what he’d expected.

Josh Caine: Mr. Coppola! I’ve got to talk to you, sir.

Francis Ford Coppola: Uh — in a minute, huh? We’re on the nut right now. Just stay here, though. [ calling out ] Phil!

Phil: Yeah! Yeah!

Francis Ford Coppola: Janine!

Janine: Yeah!

Francis Ford Coppola: Andrea!

Andrea: Yeah!

Francis Ford Coppola: Anybody! Somebody!

[ the three assistants rush forward ]

Francis Ford Coppola: Hi. Look… we can’t get away with the lighting on Marlon forever. I mean, he looks weird. He looks Uncle Fester. You know.

Andrea: Francis… listen. Phil and I had an idea.

Phil: Yeah.

Andrea: Let’s say the tribesmen love him so much, that at all times they form a human shield around him. Come on, Phil, let’s show him.

Phil: Okay, okay, okay. [ the three assistants circle Coppola ] Let’s say, Francis, you’re Brando, okay? See? Huh?

Andrea: Just like this.

Phil: Yeah, yeah! With just his head poking out! You got it?

Andrea: A human shield!

[ Coppola doesn’t look completely sold on the idea ]

Janine: Uh — uh — wait! What about this? Let’s say that, uh, for whatever reason, uh, that whenever Marlon receives visitors, he’s always in a pit buried up to his neck in the sand.

Francis Ford Coppola: Hmm…

Phil: No — I know. Okay, listen — the, uh, planes spray the foliants so that he’s always standing in a pile of dead leaves. Okay? Just his headd sticking out!

Andrea: Or — how about in a pile of dead bodies? Oh, no… then, maybe, he’d look dead.

Janine: Well, whatever it is, don’t you think we should make a decision soon?

Francis Ford Coppola: [ thinking ] Well… wouldn’t it be less trouble to shoot it ,i>every way, and then try to decide later? Huh?

Josh Caine: [ interrupting ] I’m afraid you won’t be doing any more shoting, Mr. Coppola. I represent United Artists, and I’m authorized to TERMINATE this production IMMEDIATELY!

Francis Ford Coppola: But, uh, it’s not finished, you know?

Andrea: You know, Francis — I was in the editing room last night, we have enough footage to cut together several different versions of the film.

Francis Ford Coppola: But I have no ENDING! I don’t know what the film IS yet! How am I supposed to conceptualize my ending, when I don’t know what the film is yet?!

Josh Caine: The fact is, Coppola, you don’t have any choice! To prevent you and your crew from incurring any more debts in the name of United Artists, we’ve ordered an immediate B-52 air strike on THIS set! [ he hands over the paperwork ]

Francis Ford Coppola: What?

Janine: Francis! That’s not bad! We never thought of blowing up the set! You know, we oughtta get this on film!

Francis Ford Coppola: [ excited ] Yeah! A B-52 strike! THAT’S IT!! That’s it! MY ENDING!! One of my endings! [ he claps his hands together ] When is the strike?

Josh Caine: [ looking at his watch ] In about ten seconds.

Francis Ford Coppola: [ yelling ] Okay! We gotta do this FAST, everybody! Okay, roll cameras! [ as the sounds of falling missiles rises ] Give me sound and feed! Okay! Action on the incoming!

[ cut to fiery footage, as The Doors “The End” plays ] [ SUPER: “APOCALYPSE NOW” ] [ fade ]

SNL Transcripts

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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