CINEMA ’62 – Highly Recommended by SHELF AWARENESS

Performing Arts

Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies

by Stephen Farber, Michael McClellan

While most film buffs cite 1939 as the year the largest number of great films were released, in Cinema ’62, Stephen Farber (Hollywood on the Couch) and Michael McClellan persuasively argue that 1962 deserves that honor. The two film scholars write that 1962 was “a rare confluence of art, studio craftsmanship, and commerce that has never been surpassed.” By succinctly examining acclaimed, underappreciated, hidden and neglected films, the authors showcase 1962 as a spectacularly varied and vital year in film. This was a year where Golden Age directors (including John Ford, Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Busby Berkeley) released films alongside young maverick directors (John Cassavetes, Sam Peckinpah, Roger Corman) and newly imported international filmmakers (Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman).

Even veteran directors were breaking movie taboos. Otto Preminger’s Advise and Consent and Edward Dmytryk’s Walk on the Wild Side battled decades-old Production Code restrictions to represent homosexuality on screen. Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita was restricted to viewers over 18 (which meant its star Sue Lyon couldn’t see the film). McClennan, who served on the MPAA ratings board, is an astute historian on the changing morals in films. Other outstanding movies discussed include The Manchurian Candidate, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Cape Fear, The Music Man, To Kill a Mockingbird and one entire chapter on the obstacle-filled making of Lawrence of Arabia (1962’s top grossing film and Best Picture Oscar winner).

Cinema ’62 is a compelling and entertaining assessment of the films released in 1962 and will help budding film buffs assemble a list of must-see movies. —Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Forget 1939, Cinema ’62 looks at the acclaimed and neglected films of 1962, and persuasively and entertainingly argues it was the peak year for motion pictures.

Rutgers University Press, hardcover, 270p., 9781978808829
Reviewed April 3, 2020

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