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  • Le Cinéma français de 1958 à 1967: de la Nouvelle Vague aux prémices de mai 68 par Francis Goubel
  • Keith Reader
Le Cinéma français de 1958 à 1967: de la Nouvelle Vague aux prémices de mai 68. Par Francis Goubel. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2018. 570 pp., ill.

Not the least of this book’s manifold weaknesses is its seeming inability to decide whether it is trying to be a discursive account to be read cover to cover, or a work of reference to be consulted au fur et à mesure. This might have mattered less than it does had the work not succeeded so spectacularly in falling between those two stools. It is thoroughly, indeed exhaustively, documented, but its perspective appears lacking in any scintilla of theoretical context, resulting in a rapidly fatiguing scattershot effect, while the information diligently harvested and collated is by and large readily accessible both in printed form and online. [End Page 664] I found myself wondering what could have possessed L’Harmattan to accept such unoriginal work, but the answer was hiding in plain sight on the back cover. The author is a highly regarded specialist in muscular biomechanics who became something of a television personality through his appearances on the quiz programme Monsieur Cinéma (1967–80), clearly the work’s USP. Francis Goubel’s knowledge is remarkably extensive and his enthusiasm immense, but it is difficult to see what serious scholarly contribution this book might make, especially in the absence of an index (although there is a barebones filmography). Goubel struts his stuff eruditely enough and is somebody with whom I might well enjoy discussing cinema over a coffee, which makes me feel extremely churlish for producing so disparaging a review; but it would be difficult for me to recommend this as a serious aid to study or as a piece of scholarship.

Keith Reader
University of London Institute in Paris


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pp. 664-665
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