I knew this filmgoer's companion from its 80s' edition. As well as the information it contains, it'a always a pleasure to read about the person or the subject you've been looking for. The quizzes, lists and historical notes and commentaries are unique for a one-volume edition. Needless to say I recommend it to cinéphiles as well as common cinemagoers and good-entertainment seekers.
A fine guide to film, notable for its extreme size - only the IMDB beats it. But it's not perfect. After reading it for a while, flicking through entries, you find an odd, date-related malaise. Titles from before 1960 tend to garner quite favourable reviews. Titles after 1992, when Halliwell himself died, also tend to gather quite favourable reviews, or at least reviews that don't disagree with your own perspective too much. The problem is that Halliwell seemed to detest films made from the 60s onwards. Action and sci-fi films get particularly short shrift. Which gets annoying after a while. In particular, the abovementioned review of Alien, from when Halliwell was still alive, had one star, and that only for technical effort - its sequel had none. Luckily the book seems to have been reworked and edited, although if you're reading this there isn't anything here than the IMDB doesn't offer, as the writing style is extremely sparce and you have no way of cross-referencing anything.
I bought this splendid reference book a few years ago, and finally have succeeded in tearing it to sheds.
No, not because of an attack of rage, but simply because it is one of the reference books I most like to have at hand. It just fell to pieces (not that that's a good thing!). The reviews are short but not too short, and I love the italics, ans the lists, etc., as mentioned elsewhere here.
Having said this, if you are prepared to shell out a few more shillings, go for the 2007 edition, with all of the virtues of this edition and more recent films included. That's John Walker's last version, and probably the best you'll ever get from this series. Go for it, but I recommend you combine it with other sources, Maltin being one, but several are very good. This is from a man who has over 1500 films on DVD and video, many of them purchased right here on Amazon UK.
it might seem peverse but id give this book five stars, even though i disagree with so many of the reviews,my favorite movie of all time "the changeling " gets no stars and is dismissed without reservation,but surely thats the point,the book is a GUIDE nothing more, no where does it say it ,the books word is gospel,as i understand it its the work of two men leslie halliwell and john walker ,with as has been said other critics views underneath the details of the actual film.To me a guide being quite harsh is preferable to one that sings everybodys praises,i think the more you use the guide the more you make an informed opinion on a movie not just on the rating but the type of movie ,if the stars who are in it you like/dont like etc ,even though i enjoy the guide ive never once not watched a movie because it was given a bad write up in the guide.Of course the other thing is for reference both this and "the filmgoers companion" are first class without doubt and are both invaluable books to have on any movie lovers shelf. mark stevens