Critic’s Choice: Books on French actor Jean Gabin and movie posters ring in the New Year

Film Critic

Now that the holiday season is over, it’s time to think of buying something for yourself, and two recent film books will be hard for cinephiles to resist.

“Jean Gabin: The Actor Who Was France” by Joseph Harriss (McFarland, $45) is a thorough, well-researched biography of perhaps the most iconic of French actors, the star of “Pepe Le Moko,” “La Grand Illusion,” “La Bête Humaine,” “Touchez pas au Grisbi” and dozens of others, yet a man who has rarely been the subject of full-dress English-language biographies.

Equally irresistible is “Selling The Movie: The Art of the Film Poster” by Ian Hayden Smith (University of Texas Press, $45), a look at the history of this irresistible art form that doesn’t hesitate to organize posters by genres such as French poetic realism, early Westerns and the gangster film. Beautiful and affordable both.