A very useful book, and a good first point of call for anybody interested in British cinema, past and present. Editor Brian McFarlane and his expert contributors (over a hundred) have rolled aside the stone guarding the entrance to a long-sealed cave containing much of the treasure house of British cinema, and have shone their torches into the darkness to illuminate, following their own enthusiasms. The book benefits greatly from not being written by one author, as each contributor shares their enthusiasms with the reader - indeed, some of the essays are far from bland, and contributors are not afraid to give an opinion, or vent their prejudices ! The major past of the book (about 75%, or 600 pages) consists of concisely written but informative biographical articles, leaving a quarter of the book for thematic essays on British film genres as well as other topics (child actors, black representation, newsreels, film studios, exhibition etc.) which are very useful, especially for students looking for research topics in British cinema. The major figures are well (and generally accurately) covered, with British filmographies(complete for major figures) and selected filmographies for the rest (but extra details readily available on the www on the Internet Movie Database). And some articles, such as those on Herbert Wilcox and Eric Portman stand as models of their kind. There are numerous articles on hundreds of lesser figures not covered in any other reference work. And a comparison of the articles on major British figures in this book with those on the same actors/directors in other encyclopedias by Leslie Halliwell, Ephrahim Katz, and David Thompson, reveals much greater depth and insight in the this Brian McFarlane book. A phenomenal amount of work has gone into this, which probably explains why such a work has never been attempted before. Book also features 150 excellently reproduced B/W illustrations,a detailed bibliography, many suggestions for further reading, a British Film Awards appendix and more....Highly recommended!