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How to find . . .: movie reviews

Current movie reviews

Online indexing and abstracting for periodical sources started over 20 years ago and full-text availability for most titles dates from the early 1990’s (for reviews earlier than the mid – 1990’s, see Printed Indexes on page 2).


To access any of the databases listed below, go to the electronic databases page



To search EBSCO HOST: Type the title of a film in the search window followed by the words “and review” in quotes. Full-text reviews of motion pictures in this database begin appearing in the mid – 1990’s.


InfoTrac OneFile

To search InfoTrac OneFile: type in the search window the title of a film or movie followed by the words “movie reviews” in quotes.

How-to guides

Humanities films

Reviews of films in the humanities and social sciences may be listed in the following printed indexes:


Humanities Index (Ref. AI3 .H85x)
Look under the subject heading “Moving picture reviews – Single works.”


Social Sciences & Humanities Index (Ref. AI3 .R49)

For the years April, 1965 through March, 1974 look under “Moving Picture reviews”, or “Moving pictures (Sub-headings).” This publication ceased after March, 1974 and split into two indexes, the Humanities Index and theSocial Sciences Index (See above).


International Index (Ref. AI3 .R49)

For the years 1907 to March 1960 look under the subject heading “Moving Pictures plays – Criticism, plots, etc.” From April, 1960 to March 1962, see “Moving picture reviews.” From April, 1962 to March 1965, see “Moving picture reviews – Single works.” In April, 1965 the International Index changed its title to Social Sciences & Humanities Index (See above).

Movie reviews, 1882-current

Online Sources 

New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

Full-text and full-image articles dating back to the 19th century. Film reviews and ads for movies can be searched up to the year 2001. To access, go to the “Electronic Databases” screen on the Library’s Home Page. Click on “N” in the menu and when the “N” screen comes up, click on “New York Times – ProQuest Historic Newspapers”. Type the title of a film in the “Basic Search” window and any other information, such as the name of the director or stars. In the other windows type in specific dates or a time frame.


Printed Indexes 

FILM REVIEW INDEX  (REF Z 5784 .M9 .F513 1986)

This title is a 2 volume set which indexes motion picture review from 1882 through 1985. Volume 1 indexes the years 1882 – 1949 and volume 2 indexes the years 1950 – 1985. This index is kept at the Reference Desk on the 1st floor. It indexes reviews in magazines and books.


READER’S GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE  (REF. AI3 .R48). Location: Reference Bookstack #1 1st Floor.

This index is shelved in Reference book stack #1 on the 1st floor of the Library. The Reader’s Guide has been indexing film reviews for decades. Movie reviews indexed in the Guide are listed under the subject heading “Motion Picture Reviews – Single Works” or variants of that heading. See the chart below for subject headings used for movies by the Guide over the years. Films are listed alphabetically by title under the subject heading and after each title are citations to reviews appearing in magazines or periodicals. It is important to know, along with the title, the approximate year of a film’s release as the Reader’s Guide does not cumulate reviews. Each volume of the Guide indexes periodical articles published from within the year(s) printed on its spine.

In the Reader’s Guide, films are not indexed by individual titles. All motion picture reviews are gathered under one subject heading and these headings have varied slightly over the years. Below is a list of subject headings used by the Reader’s Guide and the years they were used:


Years Catalog Subject Heading
1977-present Motion Picture reviews -- Single Works
1929-1977 Motion Picture plays -- Criticism, plots, etc. Single works
1925-1929 Motion Picture plays: Criticisms, Plots, etc.
1900-1924 Moving Picture plays (also used as a heading followed by film title); in 1922 the names of films began being listed individually, such as “Hunchback of Notre Dame”

Movie reviews (books)

The Paul Meek Library has a large collection of books which contain moving picture reviews. To find a list of these, go to the Library’s Catalog screen, click on “Subject Heading” button. When the Subject screen comes up, type “Motion Pictures Reviews” in the Search Window. When the results screen comes up, click on “Motion Pictures Reviews” and a list of approximately 30 book titles will come up. Below is a list of some of the popular anthologies of film reviews:


The New York Times Directory of the Film. REF PN 1995 .N39 1971, 1974.
An index to reviews which appeared in the New York Times from 1913 through 1968. Part II of the 1971 edition has reprints of reviews as published in the Times for each year’s “ten best” films.


5001 Nights at the Movies. REF. PN 1995 .K19 1982.
Pauline Kael briefly reviews films produced between 1900 and 1981.


From Quasimodo to Scarlett O’Hara. REF. PN 1995 .F78.
A National Board of Review anthology of reviews of films produced between 1920 and 1940.


The Great Films: Fifty Golden Years of Motion Pictures. REF. PN 1997 .8 .C7.
Bosley Crowther reviews a selection of films released between 1915 and 1967.


Selected Film Criticism. REF. PN 1995 .S246 1982.

A seven volume collection of reviews culled from popular magazines. The coverage is from 1896 through 1960.


American Film Criticism, From the Beginnings to Citizen Kane; Reviews of Significant Films at the Time They First Appeared. REF. PN 1995 .K293.
Edited by Stanley Kauffman, this is a collection of reviews of “significant” films by American critics.


Dictionary of 1,000 Best Films. REF. PN 1997 .8 .P5.
Short reviews of the better known films made prior to 1970. American films predominate.


Dictionary of Films. REF. PN 1993 .45 .S3213.
Coverage is from the early years of film making to 1965.


The International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers. REF. PN 1997 .8 .I55 1990.
A 5 – volume set which contains reviews of selected films from the earliest years of film making to the late 1980s. The selection is international. Bibliographies of review and biographies of film makers are also included.