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Film Studies Research Guide: Film Reviews

A guide to conducting research in Film Studies at Yale University, including key resources and crucial search strategies.

How to Find Film Reviews

What's Here

 

This page lists databases and printed books where you can identify film reviews. There is a separate page on locating scholarly articles. Keep in mind that you will need to look at print indexes to find reviews published before the mid 1970s.

 


 

Key Databases and Indexes for Film Reviews

 

From the Crawford Collection, Yale University Library Manuscripts and Archives.

FIAF International FilmArchive Database

See the Articles page for a description of this database.

Film and Television Literature Index

See the Articles page for a description of this database.

Film Literature Index 1976-2001

See the Articles page for a description of this database.

Film Review Index. Ed. Patricia King Hanson. (Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1986)

SML Reference, Z5784 M9 +F554 (LC)

Perhaps the best resource for finding older reviews, consisting of a two-volume comprehensive index of movie reviews from 1882 through 1985.

LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis Academic provides the full text of numerous newspapers, magazines and much more. To find reviews, select the News tab. Then look in the Sources dropdown list and select Book, Movie, Music, Play, and Video Reviews.

 


 

Additional Film Databases and Indexes

 

You can search the Orbis catalog for sources of film reviews by using the example subject headings below as a guide.

These subject searches also provide a way to find books which collect reviews, such as Pauline Kael's 5001 Nights at the Movies, and American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now (ed. Phillip Lopate).

 

The following list covers additional sources of film reviews, primarily "authoritative" ones but also a handful of "popular" review websites and blogs. Some of these resources list reviews published before the mid 1970s -- they might be the only way to find reviews published when an older film was released.

 

Film daily: the daily newspaper of motion pictures

SML Microform Room, Film S3516 [1918 to 1969]

This newspaper began under the title Wid's Daily (1918-1921), and also published the Film daily year book of motion pictures (1918-1969).  We have most of the runs, but there are some gaps.

Film Indexes Online

Film Indexes Online is a portal that allows one to simultaneously search both the American Film Institute Catalog and Film Index International. For descriptions of these databases, please see their entries on the Articles page.

Films in Review. (New York: National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.) Ceased as of January 1997.

LSF Hae69 +N21b [for 1942-1949] [under the title The New Movies: the National Board of Review magazine]

LSF Hae60 F49 [for 1950-1997]p

Online versions: 01/01/1990 to 09/30/1996 (Academic Search Premier) 

 

Film Review Annual. (Englewood, N.J.: Jerome S. Ozer, 1981-)

Bass Stacks, PN1995 F543 (LC) [most recent volume] 

SML Stacks, PN1995 F543 (LC) [previous volumes] 

This series reprints film reviews from various resources for each film.  Last copy received was in 2002.

Index to Motion Pictures Reviewed by Variety, 1907-1980. Alvarez, Max Joseph. (Metuschen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1982)

SML Reference, PN1995 A39 1982

 

International Index to the Performing Arts

See the Articles page for a description of this database.

kamera.co.uk

UK-based website covering arthouse, independent, and world cinema. Features, interviews, reviews, forums, directories, and a bookshop available on their website.

Metacritic

Provides access to and summarizes entertainment criticism available online. Combines the individual critic scores into an overall grade for each item.

Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE)

Simple search engine query webpage for finding movie review articles on film titles. Also browseable by pre-compiled lists of titles by category/awards nominations.

The New Film Index: A Bibliography of Magazine Articles in English, 1930-1970. MacCann, Richard D. (New York: Dutton, 1975)

SML Reference, Z5784 M9 M29 (LC)

 

New York Times Film Reviews (New York: Arno, 1970-1998)

SML Reference, PN1995 +N49 

Photographic reprints of film reviews as they appeared in the the New York Times from 1913 to the present. The print edition has two parts. The first is a set of volumes covering 1913-1968, with a single name/title index. From 1969-1998, volumes are annual cumulations of articles. Film reviews are also in New York Times Historical database.

Rotten Tomatoes

Strives to summarize critical reaction on movies by averaging the scores given by its list of critics, who are mostly from accredited media outlets and online film societies.

Variety and Daily Variety 

SML Microform Room, Film S2206 [1905 to most recent microfilm reel; current issues in the Periodical Reading Room, Section X-9]  

Online sources:

  • Academic OneFile: Variety (Jan. 1997 to present) and Daily Variety (Nov. 2000 to present)
  • International Index to the Performing Arts Full Text: Variety (Aug. 2000 to present)
  • LexisNexis Academic Universe: Variety (Jul. 1993 to present) and Daily Variety (Apr. 1992 to present); or search both.
  • Factiva: Mar. 2004 to present (must search manually)
    • NB: Academic OneFile and IIPA have PDFs of the paper edition.  LexisNexis Academic and Factiva provide text only and do not include photos or charts.  Variety's own site at http://www.variety.com/ requires a paid subscription for its full resources.

Variety Film Reviews, 1907-1980. (New York: Garland, 1983-86)

LSF PN1995 +V34 1983

This 18-volume set reprints and indexes reviews from Variety. See also the Index to Motion Pictures Reviewed by Variety, 1907-1980 (above). Online full-text coverage of Variety (from 1993) and Daily Variety (from 1992) is available through the links listed under Variety, above. 

 

Other Databases for Reviews

 

Academic Search Premier

Use Academic Search Premier to search for articles in thousands of different scholarly journals and general interest magazines. Coverage extends back to the mid-1980s.

Art Full Text and Art Index Retrospective (1929-1984)

Type [name of film] Motion Picture Reviews to find reviews about particular films. For example, you can do a keyword search for Fargo Motion Picture Reviews or Midnight Garden Good Evil Motion Picture Reviews.

Essay and General Literature Index

Type [name of film] Motion Picture Reviews to find reviews about particular films. For example, you can do a keyword search for Fargo Motion Picture Reviews or Midnight Garden Good Evil Motion Picture Reviews.

Humanities Full Text and Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective (1907-1984)

Type [name of film] Motion Picture Reviews to find reviews about particular films. For example, you can do a keyword search for Fargo Motion Picture Reviews or Midnight Garden Good Evil Motion Picture Reviews.

Reader's Guide Full Text Mega and Reader's Guide Retrospective (1890-1982)

Type [name of film] Motion Picture Reviews to find reviews about particular films. For example, you can do a keyword search for Fargo Motion Picture Reviews or Midnight Garden Good Evil Motion Picture Reviews.

 

 

 

Director, Film Study Center