One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
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Who would see a movie about Vietnam so soon after we left?

That was the question Francis Coppola asked the team that polled America to guide Jimmy Carter to election and the making of a presidency that never got to having a generator –the tag team of Caddell and Rafshoon. Caddell’s genius, author Kevin Mattson wrote, was to appeal to both sides of the president’s personality.

I would be educated about how they worked in practice for another client of theirs, introducing a first in the movie business:  market research.

Flying to the tropical Philippine Islands location of “Apocalypse Now” on the same plane as the psychic duo, the Simon and Garfunkle that would build a bridge over anyone’s troubled waters (for a sizable fee), the only two people on the plane with white shirts and ties, we would all three later helicopter to Francis’s headquarters in the jungle under the mountains to have a meet and greet and eat with the director, his family and close crew.

My job was presenting a visual history of Marlon Brando’s pre-pre ”Apocalypse” character–Colonel Kurtz –a history I created For Francis to establish Kurtz’ pre-“Apocalypse” character and which was later shot in the scenes revealing the contents of his dossier—faux army documents, personal photos, Life and Time magazine covers and stories.  I was also going to shoot pictures to document an interview I was to do with Francis for a big deal publication and later, little me, unknowingly, was to be drafted to double for Dennis Hopper whose character I was told much later had to do a lot with my Hunter Thompson christened Mad Dog persona (see earlier blog). Hopper’s wardrobe pants were too short for me so I got to use a pair of French jungle camo cargo pants which–unlike the poly-blend American military industrial complex stuff—actually breathed in the hot and humid location.

Mike on location for "Apocalypse Now" with his band of brothers.

Mike on location for "Apocalypse Now" with his band of brothers.

That warm and clear night a wonderful time was had by all in Francis’ rubber plantation master’s thatched roof manor high up on stilts above the moonlit jungle floor and almost away from the sounds of invisible insects, reptiles and South Asia demons.

And the Merry Pollsters stroked Francis to the max.

Another day a short time away, under a waterfall that streaked white with foam under the sun and fell in slow motion down out of the high jungle down into a warm river pond, I asked actor Sam Bottoms, who played Lance in “Apocalypse,” what did he think the pollsters would discover of Americans’ feelings about the war and a movie basically making entertainment of it.

Sam, eyes closed, tipped his blonde head back under the shower of the falls and said, “Dude, for $250,000 would you come back with bad news?”

Vittorio Storaro, director of cinematography, and Francis Ford Coppola, going up river. (Photo: Mike Salisbury)

Vittorio Storaro, director of cinematography, and Francis Ford Coppola, going up river. (Photo: Mike Salisbury)

Never get out of the boat, Mike! Cool stuff, man.  Hey, I’m back on staff at Cycle World if you got any good motorcycle ideas…  John B.
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Did you and your Leica both survive? Robert C.
I had that Leica until about the last ’90’s when I went overboard with it in the Keys and was too dumb to rinse it out asap in a bucket of fresh water.  But under that waterfall in the Philippines I lost a Nikon I had just bought in Japan because we were so fucking stoned. Mike
It’s an amazing photograph. You look either like a prisoner of war.  Or a Marine who survived several weeks of shelling on Okinawa.  Robert C.
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Great shot! Airrion C.

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Great stuff, Mike; I want to be your agent.  I remember you when…  There is a great line which is:  The older I get the better I was.  How true.  There is an extraordinary book filled with profound insight into this era and 40 years later.  I have re-read it and it is not only relevant…it is a look back and into our future.  It is called They Became What They Beheld. It is only in paperback; it belongs on your reading list.  ALSO:  CHECK OUT our website.  It went live today.  I would welcome your thoughts:

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When Apocalypse Now was first released in the theaters wasn’t the village blown up in an air strike?  Did Francis do an alternate ending where the boat just leaves the village in the end?  I think I’ve seen both endings.  Tim

It was a replica of Angkor Wat Temple that was blown…I was there.  The boat did leave.  But maybe the new cut doesn’t have that boat bit.  Mike

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Great photo(s) and story.  JB

Did I say thanks? Thanks, JB.  MS

Absolutely. You are so welcome.  It’s fun to get these glimpses into your earlier life before I knew you.  You’ve had an exciting time!  JB

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God, Mike, you had me for a moment there – I thought I was looking at Dennis!  Eric

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Hi, Mike! Enjoying your blog…keep ’em comin’!  Wish I would have had more time to chat at the reunion.  Is there any life-story or documentary in the future?  If so, keep me informed.  Thank you.  Dave & Shay

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Hey, we like Caddell now that he’s lambasting Obama every other night as the house Democrat at Fox!  RCC

I gotta see that. Mike

Hannity regularly includes him in various panels.  And I think he shows up on other Fox shows.  Caddell is, in comparison to the current far Lefty crop of ’60’s leftovers, an old-fashioned Democrat.  He is pretty much disgusted with Obama’s agenda and the Pelosi Congress.  I don’t know how many times I’ve pointed out to Democrats that Jack Kennedy or Hubert Humphrey, let alone Scoop Jackson or Harry Truman, would be shocked and dumbfounded by the modern Democratic party.  RCC

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Always interesting! Jtabler

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Mike, I wish you would write longer essays about the assignments, people, places you’ve been in your career…I have always told you I think you have a flair for writing.  How about a memoir?  A real one?  That’s a very cool photo…Tony F.

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You need to seriously write some more about this topic. This last post makes me really mind-blowed.  Thank you!  Branker T.

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27 Responses to “Apocalypse ASAP!”

  • Jim Costello Says:

    Yo Mike great shots ! Great musings ! More !

    admin Reply:

    thanks jimbo. it is the most fun after….well after.

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    thanks my friend. hhmm, i like the hermit concept more and more. keeps the gasoline bills low.

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    like always an informative post, thanks.

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    thank you.

  • Raylene Archila Says:

    Although I would’ve preferred if you went into a little bit more detail, I still got the gist of what you meant. I agree with it. It might not be a popular idea, but it makes sense. Will definitely come back for more of this. Great work

    admin Reply:

    good point. i will try to detail more. thanks.

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  • Patti Royal Says:

    You certainly have some agreeable opinions and views. Your blog provides a fresh look at the subject.

    admin Reply:

    thanks. i try.

    admin Reply:

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  • jen Says:

    Dennis Hopper will forever be remembered for his great acting. It’s very sad and a great loss. Not just for the movie industry but in general as he was a man of integrity. His most rememorable movie for me is Hoosiers.