Carl J. Mora Mexican Cinema: Reflections of a Society, 1896-1980.
University of California Press, 287 pages, $29.50

This book is an excursion to a far country—not the Mexico of geographic proximity, but of popular imagination. That country can only be visited in a darkened motion-picture theater, where a society consciously or unconsciously projects its hopes and fears onto the screen. In an important sense, then, Carl Mora, a Mexican-American scholar and editor of distinction, has vindicated both as an art form and as a social document one of the most vigorous film literatures in Latin America and indeed the world. That such vindication is necessary at all indicates that there is something of a problem with film criticism in Mexico and elsewhere, including, unfortunately, at our own universities.

Insofar as the Mexican film industry is concerned—or, for that matter, Mexico...

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