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
These databases can also be accessed on the Library's webpage.
These databases are also good resources for locating articles on film criticism.
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 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.