Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies

By Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan
Forward by Bill Condon
270 pages
Rutgers University Press
ISBN-10: 1978808828

The explanatory subtitle of the new book Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies by
Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan, is an on the mark description of this insightful work.
This book is about movies.

The authors’ focus is on what are generally called movies, feature length fiction films made to
reach substantial audiences in commercial theaters. While Brits might see films in a building
known as “the cinema,” most people in the Americas go to “the movies.” The word “cinema”
very often encompasses several types of films: documentary, experimental, shorts (animated,
fictional, and non-fiction), educational, and other lesser celebrated works. This may be too fine a
point to argue Since Cinema ’62 is aimed primarily at more accepting readers. Theorists,
scholars, reviewers, film historians, archivists, and true cinephiles, as well as film buffs will still
find enormous fun in Cinema ’62.

Debating the merits of different productions, filmmakers, and time periods is a long tradition for
everyone immersed in filmmaking, on and off the set. Farber and McCellan offer ample
ammunition to those who favor work from the early 60s. People with a passing interest in film,
as well fact-checkers, and many teachers will find historical insights, intriguing details and

personal accounts that are lively and absorbing. A short dip into the text or the useful appendices
should make readers keen to seek out movies released in 1962. That, in itself is an excellent
reason to own this book, even with the small screen exhibition to which old movies are relegated

Cinema ’62 is wisely organized thematically, not chronologically, and the 1962 designation is
determined by release date. This approach is effective, and especially useful for covering non-
English language titles, since some did not arrive on American screens until well after they
premiered abroad. It also omits foreign language films that did not make it to the US that year.
This choice is natural for writers who are primarily known as 1.) a film reviewer (Farber) and 2.)
an art-house programmer (McLellan). Much of the content is in fact drawn from previously
published reviews. This results in a good survey of critical reception and makes for easy reading,
but also occasionally results in some awkward word usage.