6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2014
Encyclopedia of British Film (4th edition) -
It is over ten years since the first edition of the 'Encyclopedia of British Film' appeared and much has happened in British film in the intervening period. With a new publisher (Manchester University Press) and new cover featuring Robert Powell attempting to freeze time on Big Ben from 'The Thirty Nine Steps' (1978), the fourth edition has slightly larger size page format which makes it easier to read. Articles are written in an accessible style ideal for those allergic to the academic jargonese of film theory. Errors in earlier editions have been corrected and the standard of proof reading is extraordinarily high for such a complex volume. And at this price level, it is accessible to the student and the interested general reader who wishes to discover more about the people involved in the films that they see at the cinema or on DVD and television.
In simpler times, if a film starred Jack Hawkins and was filmed at Ealing or Shepperton it was 'British'. Indeed, for the on-screen credits of 'Hell Divers' back in 1957 the Rank Organisation stated that this was 'a British film made at Pinewood Studios'. In his preface to the fourth edition Brian McFarlane reminds us that the world of film is now international and films that are 100% British in terms of finance are increasingly rare, usually low budget, and often struggle to find decent UK theatrical distribution. The US, with a larger domestic market, is able to support movies that are uniquely 'American' in character, but in Europe 'National Identity' in cinema has become an increasingly problematic concept. So, in a spirit of inclusion, the Encyclopedia of British Film includes many films that are co-productions involving British talent. Five hundred new articles have been added to this edition (and users of the first edition of 2003 will find considerably more), featuring new faces on the scene and filling in some gaps. A representative sample gives some idea of the depth of coverage: Billie Piper, director Steve McQueen, Carey Mulligan, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell, Ben Barnes, Anne-Marie Duff, Tessa Ross, Tom Hooper, Peter Morgan, Gemma Arterton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Omid Djalili and Sally Hawkins. Filling in some gaps in past coverage there are now articles on Raymond Francis, David Toguri, John Meillon, Ken Parry, Denis Norden, Aida Young, Teddy Darvas, Jane Arden, David Yip and many others. The contribution of Americans to British film is also expanded to include names such as Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Warren Beatty, Lloyd Bridges and Forrest Tucker. New themed articles include film representations of British housing and work. Many articles include suggestions for follow up reading where publications are available, and there is an extensive bibliography. The final listing of themed articles could be particularly useful for film students in search of research topics. If you are new to the 'Encyclopedia of British Film' and are interested in British cinema, this fourth edition is really the place to start. And if are a regular user who dips into it on a daily basis as I do, your first edition from 2003 is probably a bit battered by now........
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2014
This is a very useful and reliable source and I consult the Encyclopedia practically every day. This 4th edition is remarkably error free and there are many additional entries compared with earlier editions. Judging by who is included and who is not, the entry criteria for actors seems to be 'good starring (or character) roles in three or more films made in the UK', but this is rather inconsistent ! I was expecting to see the following names who have just as many credits as some who are included - Mia Farrow, Kirk Douglas, Elliot Gould, George Segal, Lee Marvin, Roddy McDowell,Wayne Morris, Eddie Constantine, Alex Nicol, Ann-Margret, Rod Cameron, William Bendix, Joe Gladwin, Susan Travers, June Cunningham, Adrienne Fancey(Scott), Cecile Chevrau, Danny Ross, Tommy Cooper, Sarah Branch, Ken Jones and several others who meet this criteria and could be in but are omitted. Also Malcolm Lockyer, Norrie Paramor, Ray Martin (music) and Judd Bernard (producer). But this is a very minor criticism, considering the vast number who are included. All in all, the Encyclopedia is a stupendous production !