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Jean Seberg -- Breathless Paperback – January 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: BearManor Media (January 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593931271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593931278
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,522,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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See all 9 customer reviews
I'm amazed that a book so packed with facts and solid research could be so readable!
A. Roseland
She is someone who rose to fame at the time of a great turbulence in America (the 1960s), and it makes this bio historically fascinating.
Kirk H
Very good book, Garry McGee did a fantastic job putting together the information for this book.
Lauri Reetz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kirk H on October 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I felt this book fell a bit short on creating a satisfying picture of Seberg's personality, it did give an excellent overview of her life and travails. She is someone who rose to fame at the time of a great turbulence in America (the 1960s), and it makes this bio historically fascinating. With the exception of Godard's "Breathless," Seberg's other excellent performances such as "Bonjour Tristesse" and "Lilith" have not been given their due. One thing this book lacks is a more contemporary view of her performances, given the perspective of time. "Saint Joan" is given short shrift historically and by comments Seberg made about her own performance. Today, her Joan of Arc comes across as a document of a young actor learning how to give a strong, emotional and intimate performance, and then by the end of the film, giving one. She learned along the way and in that regard it's a fascinating film to watch. Though I enjoyed this book very much, and would heartily recommend it to anyone at all interested in Jean Seberg, I felt it could have gone deeper into her psyche. Barry Paris' bio of Louise Brooks is the standard on which I base bios of famous actors. Few bios come close the depth of that book. There's a bit of that in McGee's Breathless, but I came away feeling a bit like the surface was skimmed rather than the depths plumbed. Nevertheless, as an overview of Seberg's films and life, this is very much worth reading.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Scott Coblio on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before Mia, Twiggy & Edie, there was Jean Seberg, the original Pixie. Because her successors were, well, more successful, Jean often gets overlooked when it comes time to dole out the honors to the women who influenced the style, shape & complexion of 60's femininity. Her initial screen persona was as a kind of child-woman, pretty but not overtly sexualized. Throughout her career, her image morphed back and forth through a kind of Tippi Hedren look to the boyish, close-cropped style she had in "Breathless", the film for which she is most known, and which showcased her unique appeal most effectively.

Shirley Maclaine, Mia Farrow and Audrey Hepburn were in a similar vein with their child-women personas. These actresses all were forging a new kind of feminine identity, with a naturalness that hadn't been seen on the screen before. Of them all, I find Seberg the most interesting screen presence, if not necessarily the best actress. Is it only because she came to a tragic end that she is more compelling and enigmatic on the screen?

Certainly her performances in "Breathless", "Lillith" and even "Bon Jour Tristesse" are little marvels. Acting-wise, she reminds me of Louise Brooks, in as much as her acting doesn't announce itself boldly. It's humble, poetic, watercolory. She is not so in love with her technique that her subtle effects are marred by the bold, show-offy strokes of her "method". She is always beautiful, but in her best work, she is magical too.

Garry McGee has done a commendable job researching and writing Jean's story. At 311 pages, it is satisfyingly dense, and much more than a perfunctory synopsis of her life and infamous death from suicide in 1979.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Baklava on May 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book back-to-back with "Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story" by David Richards. "Played Out" has an unfortunate title, but in all other respects, it is the superior biography. Published in 1981, just two years after Seberg's suicide, it contains virtually all the information included in "Jean Seberg: Breathless" except for some incidental but charming additions such as Jean's correspondences with her maternal grandmother ("Granny Grunt").

Garry McGhee's "Jean Seberg: Breathless" obviously draws quite heavily from the earlier biography, but it sanitizes Jean's life. Jean's disintegration after the end of her marriage to Romain Gary is quite painful to read about, but in order to get a complete understanding of her life, you must be exposed to the facts of her downward spiral.

It was almost as if Jean Seberg had two different personae. Dubbed "the most unlikely of movie stars" by one observer, Jean early in her career was a remarkably buoyant, photogenic and fresh personality. French director Francois Truffaut was captivated by Seberg's performance in "Bonjour Tristesse" (1958). Then came her star turn in Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless", which cemented a place for her in film history. But after that, there is only Robert Rossen's "Lilith" (1963) to watch in order to gauge Jean Seberg's impact and lost potential. Other films in which she sparkled ("Five Day Lover", "Time Out for Love", and "Dead of Summer") are mostly European efforts and are not in circulation.

Jean Seberg was often compared to Jane Fonda. Roughly the same age, they both became involved in French New Wave films, and then strangely they both adopted leftist causes such as the Black Panther movement.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first 10 or so pages were so badly done--disjointed snippets from other sources--that i actually thought of trying to 'return' my kindle copy. But the book improved greatly to the point where I couldn't put it down. Not sure if that was due to the author or simply Jean's very compelling life.
I'm only a few years younger than Jean would have been and vividly recall Preminger's search for his Saint Joan and the horrific reviews the production and Jean received. I knew Jean had subsequently married the french intellectual Romain Gary and had resurrected her career in French and European films. I also knew that she died under mysterious circumstances after becoming involved with the Black Panthers. But Breathless did a very good job of filling in the gaps. The one 'gap' I wish McGee could have filled in is Jean's son who lives in Spain. An interview with him would have been a valuable addition to a very decent biography.
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