It was designed in Switzerland 50 years ago and has become the most commonly used typeface in the world. You probably see it in advertising, signage and print hundreds of times a day. The movie talks about why it has become so ubiquitous.
When our small group was at the beach a discussion of movies led to discussion of Helvetica, the movie. I shocked Gerrie when I said that I don't much care for Helvetica, the typeface. (Loved the movie; the typeface—not so much) The thing that has made it so useful for such things as signage, is its transparency. It is a type that you don't notice. It has no character. It is like air. I do appreciate those useful properties, but it seems to me so overused that to use it is almost a concession to having no real opinion or point of view.
Another sans serif (but just barely—if you look hard you will see slight hints of serifs here and there), not nearly so useful, but fun to use for invitations and some special applications is Goudy Sans, designed in the 1920s. Quirky, but quite elegant. I tend to overuse it. I am quite in love with this typeface.
So, what, you may ask, does Bringhurst have to say about Helvetica? Not much. It isn't even listed among his type examples toward the back of the book.