Fifty years’ worth of reviews by the late Philip French OBE (1933-2015), the celebrated film critic for The Observer who came to Exeter to read Jurisprudence in 1954, will be published in a new volume in October. Notes from the Dream House features a selection of reviews that span the length and breadth of Mr French’s distinguished career from 1963 to 2013.
Everything from reviews of Tarantino films to musicals, from blockbusters to underappreciated arthouse classics can be found inside, written in Mr French’s engaging and erudite prose. His successor at The Observer, Mark Kermode, described Mr French as “an inspiration to an entire generation of film critics,” whose reviews were “mini history lessons, carefully situating films within a century of cinema, encouraging the reader to dig deeper and discover more.”
Philip French was born in Liverpool in 1933. During his time in Oxford he edited the student magazine The Isis and co-wrote a film script (his only venture into film production) for a satire of Oxford student life. After leaving Oxford he worked as a journalist, becoming The Observer’s chief film critic in 1978. In an interview he gave on retiring in 2013 he confessed that his cinematic ‘guilty pleasure’ was The Sound of Music and that his favourite comedies were the early Charlie Chaplin films. In 2008 Mr French was made an honorary member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Upon his death in 2015 his “encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema” was praised in his obituary in The Guardian.
Notes from the Dream House will be published in October by Carcanet Press; it is now available to pre-order on the publisher’s website.