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Film Studies

Resources for Film Studies at CWRU

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Resources for finding reviews of films

There are many sources that can be used to find reviews of films.  Here are the most common:


The American Film Institute Catalog is the premier, authoritative resource of American film information for the years 1893–1973.

  • If you are looking for a review or production information for an American movie from these years, use the AFI Catalog
  • You can search the AFI Catalog by film title, or using advanced search, by many other means such as director, actor, crew, release date, and many others
  • In addition to providing exhaustive production details, AFI Catalog lists reviews and other sources related to the film.
  • To locate the original review, you'll have to search for the source in our library holdings.  For example, there is a review of the Hitchcock film in the weekly Variety, published in the July 15, 1955 edition.  If you search for the title Variety in the library catalog, you will see that the Kelvin Smith Library has Variety on microfilm.  You can then search the microfilm for the review (ask the Main Services Desk for help in locating the film and using the microfilm scanning machine.)

The main database for film Film and Television Literature Index generally includes a wealth of references to reviews of films from popular sources such as Variety and Film Comment to academic film journals like Literature Film Quarterly.

The New York Times Historical Archive is a database containing full page images of every New York Times issue from 1851 through 2006 (this ending date moves forward, so that it includes everything published in the NYT up to three years ago.)  This rich database allows you to search for film reviews published in the times, as well as film advertisements, which can also be quite valuable to research.

  • After entering the database, click on the Databases Selected link and scroll down to make sure only the New York Times is selected.
  • The Basic search tab allows you to search for keywords and limit by date.
  • Click on the More Search Options link below the search box.  Here you will see that you can limit your search to certain kinds of articles such as display ad or review.
  • If I do a search this way and enter the terms hitchcock to catch a thief and use More Search Options to limit to reviews, a list of ten articles is returned with an original review from 1955 at the top of the list.
  • Note that the pdf of the article is available as well as a page map, which will allow you to see the full page of the Times on which the review appeared.

In addition to the New York Times archive, we have access to the archives of the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, which also have film reviews.

The CineFiles Pacific Film Archive collection is a rich resource for finding film reviews.

  • Search by film title, director, or genre
  • The CineFiles database will return a list of items in their collection related to that movie.
  • In addition to reviews from a wide variety of sources, CineFiles also includes materials like flyers, program notes, exhibitor manuals and portions of books.

Local interest!  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewed and reviews films as well.  We have access to the archive of the Plain Dealer: Historical archive, 1845-1991, and to content from 1991 to the present via NewsBank InfoWeb (look for the shortcut link to the Cleveland Plain Dealer).

It's best to search for the title of your film as a keyword, using quotes to indicate a phrase search.  So: "Gone with the wind."

PRINT INDEXES:

The print reference series Selective Film Criticism, held at the Cleveland Institute of Art Library, includes reviews of films from 1921-1950.

The two volume Film Review Index covers films from the years 1882-1985.

To find individual monographs primarily containing film reviews (and generally those of a single author), use the subject heading Motion Pictures -- Reviews.

For more recent films, don't forget about Academic Search Complete.

  • To narrow in on film reviews, use the limiting feature on the main search page that says Document Type, and select Entertainment Review.
  • For example, ASC has reviews of the film Brokeback Mountain from sources like Cineaste, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, as well as from academic journals.

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