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Film and Television Research: Locating Film Reviews

This guide is designed to help you get started doing film and television research using Library resources and services

Locating Film Reviews

Reviews are written by critics at the time of a film's release. They answer the question "Should I pay to see this movie?" They are usually newspaper article length or shorter, although sometimes a review will be longer. More in-depth critical analysis appears later. Critical assessment usually changes and develops over time. Although this is a Guide to finding contemporary reviews appearing in major newspapers, magazines and journals,  the resources listed are also good for locating articles on film and television criticism as well.

Don't restrict your search to one source. There are significant differences in journal coverage, date ranges, and full-text availability. Notably, coverage prior to 1980 is often not available on-line. If you need contemporary reviews of older films you will need to use print indexes and microfilm. The exception being reviews found in the New York Times. The Bentley Library has the NYT on-line from 1851.



These databases can be accessed on the Library's webpage. Click on the Databases A-Z icon

Academic Search Complete

  • In the Search box enter the film title  "in quotes"
  • Scroll down to the Document Type dropdown box and choose Entertainment Review

Infotrac Search Bank

  • Select Expanded Academic or General Reference Center
  • Select Advanced Search
  • In the first row leave Keyword(ke) in dropdown box and enter the film title "in quotes" in the search box
  • In the second row leave Keyword(ke) in dropdown box and enter movie review or television program review in the search box


  • This database embargoes titles from 0 to 5 years. The average is 2 years. This means that the most current issues are not available for the embargo period.
  • Click the Advanced Search link
  • In the search box enter the film title "in quotes" and select article titlefrom the dropdown box - most reviews are for books
  • Check Review box
  • Click the Search button - no other selections are necessary for a review search

LexisNexis Academic

  • Click on the News tab
  • In the Select Sources drop down box select Book, Movie, Music, Play and Video Reviews
  • Enter the film or television program title "in quotes"
  • In the Anywhere in the document drop down box select In Headline and Lead Paragraphs & Indexing
  • Select a date span (the default is 3 months)

NY Times Historical 1851-2009

  • For Film and Television Reviews enter the film or program title "in quotes" and select Document title in the drop down box. Scroll down to Document type and select Article. Be sure the Sort results by box has Oldest (historical) first selected. You may have to scroll to the appropriate date range.

These databases can also be accessed on the Library's webpage.

These databases are also good resources for locating articles on film criticism.

Print Resources

The Library retains the following print indexes that can be used to locate citations to film reviews. To find a review, look in the volume for the year the film was released.

Film Reviews

Film Review Index (2 vols.) Ref PH1995 .F464 1987

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (1900 - 2000) Old Indexes Lower Level

The terminology used in older volumes is interesting and not current usage. For instance, for locating the film reviews, search alphabetically under "Moving picture plays".

To identify the year of a film's release try the Internet Movie Database.

Subject Guide

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Matthew Van Sleet
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