The Tenth Virgin Film Guide

Based on the Definitive Industry Database

The Editors of CineBooks
Virgin. 2001.
Pbk. 1006 pages. £18.99.

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This is a completely revised film guide derived from the 41,000 entries in The Motion Picture Guide. It is a selective guide to mainstream Hollywood and foreign film gems from the 1930s right up to Pearl Harbor (’...thirty-five minutes of pure spectacle bracketed by 90 minutes of wartime-romance cliches...’). 

There must be about 2,000 films reviewed here but the format allows the editors room to provide longer reviews and credit listings than most guides of this type. At the back of the book there is an alternative title index, index of directors, and films listed by star ratings (five stars for 'masterpiece' downwards). Only four films get the lowest one star (‘poor’) rating, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes; Babe; The Outlaw; and Pokemon.

I found the entries very useful because they summarise the films and provide plenty of information about them (e.g. that Shrek started life as a film project in 1994 and work began on it in 1997) along with critical comments. Unlike some guides that treat films as fodder for brief cutting remarks there is a genuine concern for these films in evidence here. The balance of opinion and information is probably so well maintained because their entire team of film experts deals with every entry, rather than one opinionated ‘expert’.

Although the idiosyncrasies of individual reviewers are ironed out it would be good to know who the CineBook editors are, surely they don‘t have to be nameless? Another gripe is why such guides bother with comprehensive Oscar information. We all know the Oscars are dictated by fashion, whim and sentiment and after a few years their choices seem remarkably ill-judged.

An excellent guide that you can read and savour rather than flick through.

To visit the Motion Picture Guide database go to their website at:

Nigel Watson 
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