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Going on the air

Philip French, 2 May 1985

Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... It is unlikely that the governor of Lubianka gaol has ever boasted to visitors that his notorious dungeons were chosen as the setting for Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. But for over thirty years successive generations of BBC producers escorting guests through the labyrinthine corridors of Broadcasting House past doors bearing inscrutably coded designations have cheerfully informed them that they’re in the building that inspired George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four ...


Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... The smugness, torpor and repression of British life that my generation of undergraduates hated were epitomised in Julian Slade’s long-running musical Salad Days, the story of a pair of inane Cambridge graduate newly-weds living in London with a magic piano. It opened in the summer of 1954, a few months before I went up to Oxford, and featured a jolly song supposedly counselling against nostalgia called ‘We Said We’d Never Look Back’, any three bars of which bring back memories of what I most disliked about those times ...

The Education of Philip French

Marilyn Butler, 16 October 1980

Three Honest Men: Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling 
edited by Philip French.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 85635 299 3
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F.R. Leavis 
by William Walsh.
Chatto, 189 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7011 2503 9
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... Can you name the author who set you thinking? For Philip French, at a Bristol grammar school in the 1950s, the enlighteners were Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis and Lionel Trilling. For me, at a Wimbledon grammar school in the 1950s, Bertrand Russell filled the slot on his own, largely because his History of Western Philosophy was so long ...


Michael Wood, 17 December 1992

The Art of Cinema 
by Jean Cocteau, André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss.
Marion Boyars, 224 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 7145 2947 8
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Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures 
by Célia Bertin, translated by Mireille Muellner and Leonard Muellner.
Johns Hopkins, 403 pp., £20.50, August 1991, 0 8018 4184 4
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Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise 
by Ronald Bergan.
Bloomsbury, 378 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 7475 0837 2
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Malle on Malle 
edited by Philip French.
Faber, 236 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 571 16237 1
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Republic of Images: A History of French Film-Making 
by Alan Williams.
Harvard, 458 pp., £39.95, April 1992, 0 674 76267 3
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... enfants, 1987 – the year of the story is 1944 – but it has echoes and relatives everywhere in French films since the war, and in French fiction of the same period. At the close of Malle’s (and Queneau’s) Zazie dans le métro (novel 1959, film 1960), the little girl who has breezed through all kinds of turbulence and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Inglourious Basterds’, 10 September 2009

Inglourious Basterds 
directed by Quentin Tarantino.
August 2009
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... first of what Tarantino calls his ‘chapters’, we meet Colonel Landa taunting an unfortunate French farmer who has hidden a Jewish family in his house. Landa knows the family is there, the farmer knows he knows, and the only real question is how long Landa can string out his ghastly impersonation of cordiality before he gets the farmer to admit that he ...

Jungle Book

John Pym, 21 November 1985

Money into Light 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 241 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 571 13731 8
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... and then dropped out, whereupon Embassy Pictures stepped in), Boorman was also helping a young French director, Arnaud Selignac, on an entirely different type of picture, Nemo, a fantasy being shot in a huge inflatable dome in Paris. As Philip French notes in a foreword to the diary, Boorman has made it his business ...

Who needs nuclear weapons?

Philip Towle, 27 October 1988

Without the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Non-Proliferation 
by Mitchell Reiss.
Columbia, 337 pp., $35, January 1988, 0 231 06438 1
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Deep Black: The Secrets of Space Espionage 
by William Burrows.
Bantam, 401 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 593 01342 5
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Democracy and Deterrence: The History and Future of Nuclear Strategy 
by Philip Bobbitt.
Macmillan, 350 pp., £29.50, March 1988, 0 333 43537 0
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... not very obvious symbols of success. Is the man on the Lagos omnibus impressed by the Anglo-French nuclear forces or by the fact that the omnibus was made in Japan and his radio in Taiwan or Hong Kong? Nuclear weapons seem more like battleships in 1942, or cavalry regiments in 1916 – symbols of conservatism rather than of the ‘white heat’ of ...

On Philip Terry

Colin Burrow, 13 July 2017

... think of pseudy dudes in black 501s and Doc Martens, then I would prescribe a small daily dose of Philip Terry, for whom being experimental chiefly means being thoughtfully rebellious and funny. In his translation of Dante’s Inferno (2014), Terry is guided through the hell that is the University of Essex (where he is professor of creative writing) by the ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies, 6 February 2003

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... Shampoo, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, Carrie, The Fury, The French Connection, The Exorcist, Klute, The Parallax View, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Annie Hall, American Graffiti, Star Wars, Harold and Maude, Two-Lane Blacktop, Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, Badlands. These are the movies ...

End of Empire

Philip Towle, 22 February 1990

... In 1956 Soviet tanks crushed the Hungarian Uprising. At the same time the British and French tried and failed to capture the Suez Canal and to topple the Egyptian leader, Colonel Nasser. Thirty-three years later, the Soviet Union watched as one East European Communist government after another was swept from power by movements far more radical than anything conceived in Hungary in 1956 ...


Douglas Johnson, 25 April 1991

The Battle of France: Six weeks which changed the world 
by Philip Warner.
Simon and Schuster, 275 pp., £16, April 1990, 0 671 71030 3
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The Last War between Britain and France 1940-1942 
by Warren Tute.
Collins, 334 pp., £16, January 1990, 0 00 215318 1
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by Hervé Coutau-Bégarie and Claude Huan.
Fayard, 873 pp., frs 190, May 1989, 2 213 02271 2
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... de guerre or the twilight war, an English journalist, with Labour sympathies, visited a number of French factories. He subsequently called on the minister responsible for industrial production, and posed the question of whether or not French workers were being obliged to work unjustifiably long hours. The minister ...

Friend to Sir Philip Sidney

Blair Worden, 3 July 1986

The Prose Works of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke 
edited by John Gouws.
Oxford, 279 pp., £40, March 1986, 0 19 812746 4
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... Four hundred years ago, on 17 October 1586, Sir Philip Sidney died at the age of 31 of a wound sustained in a skirmish at Zutphen, where his forces had fought for the Dutch cause against Spanish domination of the Netherlands. It was one of the great deaths of English history. His early biographers – or hagiographers – wrought a tale of battlefield heroism and deathbed stoicism that helped the myth of Sidney to become more powerful than the man had ever been ...

The First Consort

Thomas Penn: Philip of Spain, 5 April 2012

Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign 
by Harry Kelsey.
I.B. Tauris, 230 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84885 716 2
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... It always comes as something of a surprise to remember that thirty years before the Armada, Philip of Spain was king of the country he later attempted to invade. What was more, he had been a new kind of king, the consort of England’s first ruling queen, and one to whom England had violently objected before he had even set foot there ...

Steaming Torsos

J. Hoberman, 6 February 1997

Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... male) behaviour. But where baseball is all form, the Western is heavy on content. Essentially, as Philip French once observed, it is ‘America rewriting and reinterpreting her own past, however honestly or dishonestly’. As is the literary history of Westerns: Henry Nash Smith’s classic Virgin Land is redolent of New Deal optimism, Robert Warshow’s ...
On Historians 
by J.H. Hexter.
Collins, 310 pp., £6.95, September 1979, 0 00 216623 2
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... the learned communications on specialised subjects. The presidential address even, which in a French institution of the kind would all too often become bogged down in somewhat empty generalities, remains, thanks to men like Carl Becker, a serious intellectual occasion. For which bravo, Messieurs les Américains. Of the second essay in the book, there is ...

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