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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Achievement - an essential purchase for film fans
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,...
Published on 28 Nov 2003

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book for the video shelf
A very useful book, and a good first point of call for anybody interested in British cinema, past and present. Melbourne based 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...
Published on 1 Oct 2003


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Achievement - an essential purchase for film fans, 28 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of British Film (Methuen Film) (Paperback)
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!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book for the video shelf, 1 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of British Film (Methuen Film) (Paperback)
A very useful book, and a good first point of call for anybody interested in British cinema, past and present. Melbourne based 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 - some of the essays are far from bland, and contributors are not afraid to give an opinion, or vent their prejudices (see the Jean Carson article for an example). Approximately a quarter of the book has thematic essays on film genres as well as other topics (child actors, black and gay representation, newreels, film studios, exhibition etc. 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 filmographies, complete for major figures only, and selected filmographies for the rest, but details readily available on the IMDB). Ssome articles, such as those on Herbert Wilcox and Eric Portman stand as models of their kind. But the main problem with this booklies in the numerous articles of hundreds of lesser figures (which, although it is claimed all have benn read by several vetters) still manage to contain quite a few errors (Cilla Black featured in 'Alfie', Anton Walbrook starring with Ethel Merman in 'Call Me Madam'- he niether did this with Merman on stage or film), and several biographies of actors are missing from their BIBLIOG entries ((Sid James, Joan Sims, Kay Kendall, Anthony Newley...). My recommendation would be to wait for a second edition ! And where is Rolf Harris ?
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A tragic misfire, 13 Dec 2003
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of British Film (Methuen Film) (Paperback)
"This is a book I've been waiting for all my life," says a back cover quote from Philip French. Well, so have I, and after waiting all that time, I couldn't be more disappointed.
The editor of the book has given almost all of its space to the enumeration of the actors' and directors' most notable films. Yet doesn't it stand to reason that the obvious target audience of this volume, fans of the British cinema, would be aware of those titles anyway? And in any case, in the era of the world wide web and IMDb, wasn't he doing a lot of work that had already been done by others? While the most important thing that I expected to find here, lots and lots of biographical information, is almost entirely missing, so the many fascinating but obscure faces of the British cinema have remained obscure, and even the well-known ones do not fare much better. The best you can hope to get are the birth/death years and brief details of the person's education. The rest, while taking up a lot of space, is mostly useless. What a pity, and what an awful lot of totally misguided effort.
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The Encyclopedia of British Film (Methuen Film)
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