How to do Research on Film & Television

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Film & Television Research Guide 1How to do research on film and television? Whether you intend to write a research paper on the technological or cultural content of films and TV shows, the work of an individual performer or director, or find reviews for a particular movie or show, an abundance of printed and electronic sources are available through public, academic, and specialty libraries. This includes biographical data, filmographies, production credits, plot summaries, critical essays and reviews, and series studies of well-known performers, producers, directors, and others for virtually every film or television program ever produced.

Information is also widely accessible through worldwide societies and organizations and research centers and archives dedicated to film and television history and preservation. As with any other category, sources can be books, indexes (many cross-indexed with online companion databases that are searchable by subject or title), Web sites, or abstracts of serious and scholarly journals discussing a myriad of topics. Described in this article is a selected list of sources on the subject of film and television suitable for writing a research paper.

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Selected Subject Headings

Listed below is a sample of a few broad Library of Congress subject headings—made up of one word or more representing concepts under which all library holdings are divided and subdivided by subject—which you can search under and use as subject terms when searching online library catalogs for preliminary and/or additional research, such as books, audio and video recordings, and other references, related to your research paper topic. When researching materials on your topic, subject heading searching may be more productive than searching using simple keywords. However, keyword searching when using the right search method (Boolean, etc.) and combination of words can be equally effective in finding materials more closely relevant to your research paper topic.

Suggested Research Topics in Film and Television

  • Adventure Films
  • Animated Films
  • Broadcasting
  • Cinematography
  • Comedy Films
  • Communications
  • Detective and Mystery Television Programs
  • Documentary Films
  • Feature Films
  • Film Adaptations
  • Film Criticism
  • Film Genres
  • Film Noir
  • Horror Films
  • Video Recordings
  • Motion Pictures
  • Motion Pictures—Reviews
  • Motion Pictures and Literature
  • Musical Films
  • Science Fiction Television Programs
  • Silent Films
  • Television
  • Television Actors and Actresses
  • Television and Children
  • Television Audiences
  • Television Broadcasting
  • Television Comedies
  • Television Dramas
  • Television Plays
  • Television Stations
  • Television Views
  • Violence on Television
  • Western Films
  • Women in Television

Selected Keyword Search Strategies and Guides

Most online library indexes and abstracts and full-text article databases offer basic and advanced “keyword” searching of virtually every subject. In this case, combine keyword terms that best define your thesis question or topic using the Boolean search method (employing “and” or “or”) to find research most suitable to your topic.

If your topic is “children and violence on television,” for example, enter “children” and “violence on television” with “and” on the same line to locate sources directly compatible with the primary focus of your paper. To find research on more specific aspects of your topic, from your list of keywords that you developed alternate one new keyword at a time with “and” (for example, “children and aggression and violence on television,” “children and behavior and violence on television,” “children and crimes and violence on television,” “children and effects and violence on television,” etc.).

Selected Source and Subject Guides

Film & Television Research Guide 2As part of your preliminary research to find appropriate resources for your topic, information source and research guides are available at most public and academic libraries and are keyword searchable through your library’s online catalog (to search and locate guides, enter your “subject” followed by these keywords one search at a time: “information sources,” “reference sources,” and “research guide”). Printed guides available for this subject area include

Guide to Film and Television Research, by Jenny Middlemiss, 224 pages (Sydney, Australia: AFTRS Publishing, 1992)

On the Screen: A Film, Television, and Video Research Guide, by Kim N. Fisher (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1986)

Performing Arts Research: A Guide to Information Sources, by Marion K. Whalon, 280 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1976)

Popular Entertainment Research: How to Do It and How to Use It, by Barbara J. Pruett (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1992)

In addition to these sources of research, most college and university libraries offer online subject guides arranged by subject on the library’s Web page; others also list searchable course-related “LibGuides” by subject. Each guide lists more recommended published and Web sources—including books and references, journal, newspaper and magazines indexes, full-text article databases, Web sites, and even research tutorials—that you can access to expand your research on more specific issues and relevant to your research paper topic.

Selected Books and References

General Sources

The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–present, 9th ed., by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, 1,856 pages (New York: Ballantine Books, 2007)

This comprehensive guide covers programs from all seven broadcast networks, more than 100 cable networks, and major syndicated shows. Each entry provides a complete broadcast history, cast, and plot summaries about each show and its stars. This fully revised and updated ninth edition includes more than 500 new listings, plus more than 1,000 entries with descriptions of cable network programming. Special features include annual program schedules for the past 57 years, listings of top-rated shows by season, Emmy Award winners, longest-running series in TV history, spin-off series, theme songs, and more.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television: A Biographical Guide Featuring Performers, Directors, Writers, Producers, Designers, Managers, Choreographers, Technicians, Composers, Executives, Dancers, and Critics in the United States and Great Britain, 97 vols. (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Group, 2009)

Now available electronically through Gale Virtual Reference Library online database, this popular printed reference series features detailed biographical and career information on more than 20,000 entertainment professionals. Coverage includes birth dates, education, background (including professional training), marriage information, political and religious affiliations, and much more.

Encyclopedia of Movie Special Effects, by Patricia Netzley, 304 pages (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 2000)

This subject-specific volume features 366 entries covering special effects in the American movie industry, including brief biographies, studio terms and definitions, descriptions of special effects techniques, lists of special effects used in certain films, and concise biographies of major special effects people.

The Film Encyclopedia: Complete Guide to Film and the Film Industry, 6th ed., by Ephraim Katz, revised by Ronald Dean Nolen, 1,584 pages (New York: HarperCollins, 2008)

Authoritatively written A-to-Z reference guide featuring more than 7,500 entries on “the artistic, technical, and commercial aspects of movies.” Entries include biographical information on many famous actors, cinematographers, directors, editors, producers, and screenwriters in motion picture history, motion picture studio histories, and overviews of such subjects as film genres and film style.

Halliwell’s Film Guide 2008, 23rd ed., by Leslie Halliwell, 1,408 pages (New York: HarperCollins, 2008)

Listing more than 20,000 English-language films and videos, this well-done, fully revised and updated compendium features concise information, including running time, date of release, credits, and reviews.

Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion, 12th ed., edited by John Walker, 864 pages (New York: HarperCollins, 1997)

This edition of the long-running film reference series chronicles American and foreign directors, writers, and actors, and film themes, terms, and techniques with more than 1,000 new entries.

History of American Cinema, 10 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990)

“A major achievement in film history, unlikely to be surpassed for many years” (American Historical Review), this award-winning, 10-volume reference series chronicles the complete history of American cinema from its beginnings in the 19th century to 1990. Each volume is copiously illustrated and chronicles the evolution and development of films by decade, complete with indexes, notes, a bibliography, and a myriad of appendixes. An e-book version of the entire series was published in 2006.

International Directory of Films and Filmmakers, 4th ed., 5 vols., 5,000 pages (Detroit, Mich.; New York; and San Francisco: St. James Press, 2000)

This five-volume fourth-edition reference set is an invaluable source of bibliographies on American and foreign-made films and documentaries, and well-known actors, actresses, directors, filmmakers, production artists, and writers. Volume 1 chronicles American and foreign films, silent films, and documentaries in alphabetical order. An extensive list of reviews, plot summaries, and critical commentary is provided for each entry. Subsequent volumes offer biographical information and expository essays on directors and filmmakers (volume 2), actors and actresses (volume 3), and writers and production artists (volume 4). Volume 5 contains a title index to cross-reference entries in all volumes.

International Motion Picture Almanac (Chicago and New York: Quigley Pub.Co., 1929– , annual)

Called The Motion Picture Almanac from 1929 to 1935–36, then renamed The International Motion Picture Almanac beginning with the 1936–37 edition, this so-called bible of the film industry annually lists information on motion picture studios, producers and distributors, “Top 10 Money Making Stars,” a “Who’s, Who” in motion pictures, the previous year’s feature films, and more. A separate edition, The Motion Picture and Television Almanac, launched with the 1952–53 edition.

Magill’s Cinema Annual, edited by Frank Magill, et al. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1982– ; Detroit: Gale Group, 1983– )

First published by Salem Press in 1982, then by the Gale Group beginning in 1983, this annual reference offers detailed retrospective coverage of major domestic and foreign films released in the United States from 1981 to the present. Early editions, published by St. James Press, were split into three parts: silent films, foreign films, and English-language films. Current editions published by Gale Group chronicle films released from the previous year. In both past and current volumes, essential details are provided with each entry, including complete cast and credits, awards and nominations, MPAA ratings, and critical reviews with author bylines. Eight indexes cross-reference subjects in the entire volume.

Screen World (New York: Greenberg, 1949–65, Vols. 1–16; New York: Crown, 1966– , Vols. 17–42; New York: Applause Books, 1992– , Vols. 43– )

Each volume of this definitive reference series, first published in 1949, covers every significant United States and international film released during the previous year. Each entry includes complete plot summaries, cast, credit, and production company information, month released, rating, and running time. Also contains biographical information on almost 2,500 living stars, including real name, place and date of birth, and educational background.

Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present, 4th ed., by Alex McNeil, 1,264 pages (New York: Penguin Books, 1996)

A great companion to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, Total Television exhaustively chronicles more than 7,000 daytime, prime time, syndicated, and cable programs. Supplementary material includes a year-by-year, night-by-night grid of each network’s primetime line-up of shows from 1948 through the end of the 1995–96 season. Indexes cross-reference nearly every network, cable, and syndicated series that aired. All performers, writers, directors and producers are conveniently indexed for easy cross-referencing. A CD-ROM was published concurrently with the most recent edition.

Variety International Film Guide: The Definitive Annual Review of World Cinema, 43 vols. (London: Tantivy Press; New York: A.S. Barnes, 1964–88; London: Andre Deutsch; Hollywood: Samuel French, 1989–98; Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1999–2006)

Published through 2006, this popular annual reference series is a veritable “who, what, where, and when” of cinema. Includes news, reviews, and 240 color and black-and-white illustrations covering film productions from some 70 countries, plus information about film archives, film festivals, film schools, top-grossing films, and worldwide box-office figures.

VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever 2005, 18th ed., edited by Jim Craddock, 1,700 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Group, 2009)

This reference source contains more than 30,000 irreverently written listings of movies available on video, rated from one to four “bones” for quality. Included are nine primary indexes for easy cross-referencing of material.

Film and Television Studies and Criticism

Film Review Index: Volume 1, 1882–1949; Volume 2, 1950–1985, by Patricia King Hanson and Stephen L. Hanson (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1986–87)

Indexes approximately 8,000 major film reviews from newspapers, magazines, trade journals, reference works, and monographic surveys. Provides review sources for silent films and films produced before 1950. Includes an index of directors.

A Guide to Critical Reviews: Part IV, The Screenplay from Jazz Singer to Dr. Strangelove, 3rd ed., 2 vols., by James M. Salem (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1984– )

This two-volume set indexes reviews from selected newspapers and popular magazines for nearly 12,000 American and foreign screenplays and full-length movies from 1927 to 1980.

Index to Critical Film Reviews in British and American Periodicals, by Stephen E. Bowles, 3 vols. (New York: B. Franklin, 1975)

Comprehensive three-volume reference that lists more than 20,000 film reviews, including documentaries and shorts, from selected periodicals from the 1950s to 1973.

International Index to Film Periodicals, 1972– (New York, R.R. Bowker Co., 1973– )

Indexes articles of “aesthetic or critical value” from approximately 90 film periodicals, arranged in sections by category. To find film reviews, look under the film’s title in the “Individual Films” section. This source is one of the main components of the online FIAF International Film Archive Database (1972–2001), which also includes biographies of film stars and information about film archives and collections. Index is also available on microform.

Leonard Maltin’s 2010 Movie Guide, 1,664 pages (New York: Signet, 2009)

Written by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin and a staff of contributing reviewers, this annually updated, best-selling home reference offers capsule reviews on almost 17,000 American and foreign films, including recent video, DVD, and laserdisc releases. Also includes several bonus features, such as a list of “100+ Recommended Family Films” on video, “Fifty Films That Got Away, Movies You Really Ought to See,” and a list of specialty video mail-order companies.

Los Angeles Times Index (Wooster, Ohio: Bell & Howell Co., 1972–78; Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International, 1984–1997)

Published eight times a year with quarterly and annual accumulations, the Los Angeles Times Index provides abstracts of news items, feature articles, editorials, editorial cartoons, obituaries, commentaries, and reviews of movies and television programs through the 1996 edition. Beginning in 1997, the publisher of this print index series revamped the format, eliminating the abstracts. Instead, each entry lists the headline, author, and article type (such as editorial or feature article) and also includes subject terms under which the article is indexed.

Magill’s American Film Guide, edited by Frank N. Magill; associate editors, Stephen L. Hanson and Patricia King Hanson, 5 vols., 3,691 pages (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1983)

Lists in alphabetical order in-depth critical essays of approximately 1,000 major American films, from three to eight pages in length, examining the film and its relationship to film history.

Magill’s Survey of Cinema: English Language Films, First Series, edited by Frank N. Magill; associate editors, Patricia King Hanson and Stephen L. Hanson, 4 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1980)

Magill’s Survey of Cinema: English Language Films, Second Series, edited by Frank N. Magill; associate editors, Stephen L. Hanson and Patricia King Hanson, 6 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1981)

In-depth analyses of more than 1,200 major English-language films produced from 1927 to 1980. Critical evaluations and detailed plot summaries cover all aspects, including acting, directing, editing, screenwriting, and production. This resource is also offered online through Thomson DIALOG. Magill’s Survey of Cinema: Foreign Language Films, edited by Frank N. Magill, 8 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1985)

Eight-volume set encompassing more than 700 foreign-language films released between 1929 and 1985. Detailed plot summaries and reviews accompany each entry. A cumulative index cross-references films in the preceding volumes. Also offered as online database through Thomson DIALOG.

Magill’s Survey of Cinema: Silent Films, edited by Frank N. Magill; associate editors, Patricia King Hanson and Stephen L. Hanson, 3 vols., 1,280 pages (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1982)

Critically examines and summarizes major silent films produced between 1902 and 1936, with a cumulative index included. Also available online through Thomson DIALOG.

Media Review Digest (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Pierian Press, 1973–2005)

Published annually through 2005, this reference features citations of more than 375,000 reviews and links to more than 300,000 full-text reviews and related sources on the Internet of films, videos, videodiscs, audio tapes, compact discs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other media with an emphasis on educational and other nontheatrical titles.

New York Times Film Reviews (New York: New York Times, 1913/1968–1999/2000)

Organized by year, with indexes in each volume, the New York Times Film Reviews reprints more than 17,000 films (1913–82 and 1985–86) as published in the New York Times. Contains reviews of American films, foreign films, documentaries, independent films, and experimental films. The 1913–68 edition also features a beautifully illustrated portrait gallery with photos of famous film stars; subsequent editions include illustrated movie reviews.

The New York Times Index (New York: New York Times, 1851– )

Cumulative index to the New York Times, including film reviews by Times critics, located under the subject heading, “Motion Pictures—Reviews and Other Data on Specific Productions.” Films are listed individually in alphabetical order after a chronological list of articles. The index lists reviews of all kinds of motion pictures—documentaries, foreign and American films, and independent films.

Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson, 1901– )

One of the best references for reviews published in newspapers and magazines, Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature is a good source of information, particularly on older films. The popular compendium indexes both American and foreign films. Reviews are indexed under the subject heading, “Moving Picture Plays—Criticisms, Plots, etc.—Single Works,” in alphabetical order by film title. The print edition is also searchable on several H.W. Wilson electronic databases, including Reader’s Guide Full Text, Mega Edition and Reader’s Guide Retrospective: 1890–1982.

Retrospective Index to Film Periodicals, 1930–1971, by Linda Batty, 425 pages (New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1975)

This retrospective index, which predates the Film Literature Index, covers the contents of 14 English-language film journals from 1930 through 1971, along with film reviews and film-related articles published in The Village Voice.

Selected Film Criticism, 7 vols. (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1982–85)

Offers selected movie reviews, reproduced in their entirety, that were originally published in magazines and trade journals from 1896 to 1960. Each film has an average of two reviews. Volumes 1–5 and Volume 7 index American and foreign film reviews (1896–1960). Volume 6 features reviews of foreign-language films released in the United States (1930–50). Volume 7 is a cumulative index to the previous volumes in the set.

Variety Film Reviews, 1907–1996, 24 vols. (New York: Garland Pub., 1983–96)

Similar to the New York Times Film Reviews, this reference series, encompassing 24 volumes, reprints film reviews published in Variety. Reviews are arranged chronologically and are good sources of information on American and foreign films, as well as obscure films and those that premiered at international film festivals. Cumulative title indexes, 1907–80 (Volume 16) and 1981–84 (Volume 18), cross-reference films reviewed in each volume. Title and director indexes for 1985–86 are in the back of each volume. Publication of the series ceased with Volume 24.

Video Librarian (Seabeck, Wash.: Video Librarian, 1986– )

Annual index to this monthly video review magazine for public, school, academic, and special libraries featuring hundreds of reviews each month of current theatrical and nontheatrical videos. Originally published as a newsletter beginning in 1986, the publication shifted to a magazine format in 1996. Also offered as searchable database called Video Librarian Plus! with access to more than 22,000 full-text video reviews.


American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1911–1920, edited by Patricia King Hanson, 2 vols., 1,504 pages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989)

American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1921–1930, edited by Kenneth W. Munden, 2 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1979; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)

American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931–1940, edited by Alan Gevinson and Patricia King Hanson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993)

American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1941–1950, edited by Amy Dunkleberger and Patricia King Hanson, 3 vols., 1,115 pages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)

American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures, 1961–1970, edited by Richard P. Krafsur, 2 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1976; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997)

The most authoritative work of its kind, this five-part set covers only American films—feature films that were four reels or longer. Includes title, credits, date of release, literary source (if known), and complete synopsis. Since 2002, the institute’s complete catalog, called AFICatalog, was made available as an online database through Chadwyck-Healey.

The Holt Foreign Film Guide, by Ronald Bergan and Robin Karney (New York: Henry Holt, 1989)

Guide to 2,000 foreign films from more than 50 countries selected by the authors—classics, box-office successes, and more unusual films. Provided with each entry are credits, plot summary, critical commentary, and running time. Entries include both the original foreign language title and U.S. release title.

The Motion Picture Guide, 1927–1984, by Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross, 12 vols. (Chicago: Cinebooks, 1985–86)

Indispensable, 12-volume reference set that offers complete descriptions, including cast and credits, for more than 50,000 English-language and notable foreign feature films released between 1927 and 1984. Entries include production information, synopsis, analysis, and ratings, ranging in length from two sentences to several pages. Documentaries, X-rated, or unrated films are excluded. A cumulative index (Volumes 11 and 12) accompanies the set. Also available on CD-ROM.

Selected Full-Text Article Databases

Academic Search Elite (Ipswich, Mass.: EBSCO Publishing, EBSCOHost, indexing abstracts: 1984– , full text: 1990– )

Covering a variety of disciplines, Academic Search Elite is a good source for reviews and general articles on movies and movie personalities culled from scholarly journals and some popular magazines.

Academic Search Premier (Ipswich, Mass.: EBSCO Publishing, EBSCOHost; 1972– )

This major database contains index and full-text articles from many academic journals, such as Cineaste and Journal of Performance and Art, and popular magazines, including People, Time, and Rolling Stone. Coverage varies by title.

Art Full Text (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Co., WilsonWeb, indexing: 1984– , abstracting: 1994– , full text: 1997– )

Indexes many scholarly film journals, including reviews and film criticism.

BASELINE FT (Santa Monica, Calif.: BASELINE, Inc.)

This online entertainment industry directory contains some 1.5 million records of the U.S. film, television, and cable television industry. Covered are cast and technical credits, celebrity biographies, talent contact information, company directories, and industry news, including credits for 900,000 actors, producers, directors, and crews; biographies of 7,000 major entertainment figures; searchable news archives from leading industry publications, such as Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety; key contact information for film companies, executives, and talent; and production information, including box-office grosses, budgets, release dates, and salaries, for 100,000 films and TV series.

Expanded Academic ASAP (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale InfoTrac, 1980– )

Considered by some as one of the best places to find reviews of recent films, Expanded Academic ASAP contains citations and full-text reviews from selected popular magazines, scholarly journals, and some major American newspapers. Updated daily, coverage includes American and foreign films, and subjects are keyword searchable. Enter the film’s title and “reviews” in the search box for best results.

FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals Plus (Ann Arbor, Mich.: ProQuest/Chadwyck-Healey, 1972– )

Comprehensive database offering in-depth coverage of “the world’s foremost academic and popular film journals,” from 1972 to date, with citations and full text in many cases of nearly 300,000 articles from 300 English-language and foreign publications.

JSTOR (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Journal Storage Project, 1996– )

This electronic archive contains scholarly journal articles covering the arts and humanities. Options allow users to browse journals online or retrieve full-text through title or subject search.

LexisNexis Academic Universe (Dayton, Ohio: LexisNexis, 1970– )

Full-text index of articles from thousands of newspapers, magazines, newswires, media transcripts, trade journals, and other industry publications in the United States and abroad. Content includes newspaper reviews of motion pictures released within the past 10 years. Reviews are searchable under the “General News Topics” category, and under “News/Arts & Sports/Book, Movie, Music & Play Reviews.”

Magill’s Survey of Cinema (Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson DIALOG, 1902– )

Contains the entire contents of the print editions of Magill’s Survey of Cinema and Magill’s Survey of Cinema: Foreign Language Films—full-text articles covering more than 1,800 notable films released since 1982. Entries consist of abstracts and credit listings for hundreds of films. Full-text listings include film title, release date, country of origin, extensive cast and credit listings, color or black-and-white indicator, abstract, critical essay, citations to noteworthy reviews, a list of significant awards, qualitative rating, and running time. Available through DIALOG (File 299), the database is updated monthly.

Periodical Abstracts Research II (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI/ProQuest, 1986– ) Another excellent source that features abstracts and some full-text articles to reviews and general articles about movies. Indexes articles from academic journals, popular magazines, and key business publications—some 1,600 general-reference publications in all, including 396 humanities periodicals. The full-text edition includes ASCII full-text articles from approximately 600 of the indexed titles.

ProjectMUSE (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990– )

Electronic collection of full-text film criticism and film, television, and mass media studies from more than 100 journals published by major universities, including American Imago, Cinema Journal, MLN, Modernism/Modernity, Postmodern Culture, Theatre Journal, and many more. Coverage is for the most recent 10 years but also varies by journal.

ProQuest Direct (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI/ProQuest, indexing: 1971– , full text: 1986– )

This full-text database indexes more than 1,100 general interest and scholarly periodicals and newspapers, including many film journals, such as Film Comment, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, and many others, and popular publications, including Premiere, the Village Voice, and Video Magazine. Coverage is one month to two months behind, but reviews are searchable by movie title.

Reuters VNU Entertainment News Service (London: Reuters Group PLC)

Online database containing current information on all areas of entertainment and popular culture, including film and television, plus celebrity news, weekly box office earnings, reviews, and more.

Selected Periodicals

American Film: Film, Video, and Television Arts (New York: BPI Communications; Los Angeles: American Film Institute: 1975–92, monthly)

This monthly magazine, published by the American Film Institute, offered in-depth coverage of the Hollywood film industry, including movies, profiles of movie legends, and their impact on popular culture. Bound periodical and microform collections, available through university and public libraries, provide access to the entire run of issues.

Camera Obscura: A Journal of Feminism and Film (Berkeley, Calif.: Camera Obscura Collective; Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1976– , three times a year)

From the first to the most current issue, this unique printed scholarly journal has offered a feminist perspective on film, television, and other visual media. Each issue features information, essays, interviews, and summary pieces exploring feminist work and media practices, from avant-garde to mainstream. Now published online by Duke University Press. Current and past issues are indexed and abstracted by such popular library databases as The Alternative Press Index, Art Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Film Literature Index, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, International Index to Film Periodicals, and Women’s Studies Index. Full-text articles are also available through LexisNexis Academic Universe (1993– ), and ProjectMUSE (2000– ).

Cineaste (New York: Cineaste Publishers, 1967– , quarterly)

Billing itself as “America’s leading magazine on the art and politics of the cinema,” this internationally recognized scholarly journal covers a myriad of topics and issues. Written by acclaimed writers, critics, and scholars, it features in-depth articles, reviews of the latest Hollywood movies, independent productions, and foreign films, critical analyses of controversial films, and informative interviews with directors, screenwriters, performers, and others who make films. Full-text articles are accessible through ProQuest Direct (1994– ).

Cinema Journal (Norman, Okla.: Society for Cinema Studies, 1966/1967– , quarterly)

Published quarterly by the University of Texas Press and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, this scholarly journal presents myriad essays from various perspectives written by university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image. Contents are indexed or abstracted in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Extended Academic Abstracts, Film Literature Index, International Index to Film Periodicals, and PMLA. Online issues have been available through Johns Hopkins University Press’s ProjectMUSE since 1999.

Film Comment (New York: Lorien Productions, 1962– , bimonthly)

This bimonthly journal, published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, contains scholarly articles on recent feature films, interviews with top filmmakers, and retrospective film studies on American and foreign films. Full-text articles from 1988 to the present are searchable through the online database ProQuest Direct.

Film and History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies (Cleveland, Ohio: Historians Film Committee, 1970– , biannual)

Published by the Historians Film Committee, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, Film and History surveys feature films and documentaries that represent and interpret history and historical events. Articles range from analysis of individual films and television programs historical in nature to critical examinations of history as portrayed in films. Current and past full-text articles are available through ProQuest Direct (1998– ).

Film Quarterly (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958– , quarterly)

Film Quarterly publishes in-depth, peer-reviewed articles, detailed reviews of current movies, avant-garde and experimental films, documentaries, and major film books, as well as interviews with important filmmakers and much more. Content also deals with film history, film theory, and the impact of film, video, and television on culture and society. Issues are available in print and electronic form by subscription.

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (Oxford: Carfax Publishing/International Association for Media History, 1981– , quarterly)

This academic journal documents the history of audiovisual media and its impact on culture, politics, and society in the 20th century. Published quarterly by the International Association for Media and History, each issue features articles, conference reports, book reviews, essays, histories, and debates of current issues. Content also includes reviews of films, radio, and television programs of historical or educational importance, audiovisual media, and listings of archival materials and dissertations. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television is abstracted in such library databases as Annotated Bibliography for English Studies, Communication Abstracts, Current Contents Arts and Humanities, EBSCO Academic Search Elite, Film Literature Index, International Index to Film and Television Periodicals, and Media Review Digest.

Journal of Film and Video (Champaign, Ill.: University Film and Video Association, 1984– , three times a year)

The official publication of the University Film and Video Association, this internationally respected journal probes film and video production, history, theory, criticism, and aesthetics. Articles cover film and related media and their function in society, and the teaching and study of film and video. Offered in full-text form in ProQuest Direct (1997– ).

Journal of Popular Film and Television (Washington, D.C.: Heldref Publications, 1978– , quarterly)

Quarterly peer-reviewed scholarly journal examines the social and cultural aspects of commercial films and television. Essays discuss at length a wide range of subjects, such as networks, genres, series, and audiences, in addition to film and TV personalities, directors, and studios. Regular features include book and video reviews, filmographies, and bibliographies. Available in full-text form in ProQuest Direct (1988– ), Expanded Academic ASAP (1992– ), and others.

The Moving Image (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001– , biannual)

Published twice a year, in the spring and fall, The Moving Image, the official journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, examines important issues involving preservation and restoration of film, television, video, and digital images. The journal is intended for archivists, librarians, technical specialists, scholars, and academics interested in the field of moving-image archiving. Articles cover ethics, techniques, and theory of restoration, and are written by leading scholars and archivists.

Sight and Sound (London: British Film Institute, 1932– , monthly)

Published by the British Film Institute since 1932, this monthly magazine, which merged in 1991 with Monthly Film Bulletin, features critical, in-depth articles about major motion pictures and classic cinema, reviews of new feature films and new video releases, international film news, and coverage of television. Film reviews include complete cast and credit information.

Variety (New York: Variety Pub. Co., 1905– , weekly)

First published in 1905, this weekly trade paper of the motion picture, television, and theater industry features articles, columns, features, news briefs, obituaries, and special issues.

The Velvet Light Trap (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin at Madison; Austin, Tex.: University of Texas, 1971– , quarterly)

Edited by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Texas at Austin, this scholarly journal, published quarterly, investigates and evaluates the historical questions and meanings of film, television, and other media with articles and interviews. Critical, theoretical, and historical discussion usually relates to a common theme in each issue. The Velvet Light Trap is indexed or abstracted in print editions of Communication Abstracts, Film Literature Index, International Index to Film Periodicals, Sociological Abstracts, America: History and Life, and Historical Abstracts, as well as online database versions.

Wide Angle (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976– , quarterly)

This scholarly film studies journal features copiously illustrated articles, book reviews, and interviews with major filmmakers and numerous other film subjects suitable for students studying film or cinema history. Full-text issues are available online through ProjectMUSE (1996–99).

Selected Web Sites

Academy Awards Database (

This official database of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences contains complete records of Academy Award nominees and winners in all categories.

Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (

Offers complete information on current daytime and prime-time Emmy Awards winners and nominees and recent Hall of Fame inductees.

All-Movie Guide (

Features biographies of famous actors and directors, film finder and people finder databases, lengthy essays about film genres from action movies to westerns, information about current movies, and more.


The home page of BOXOFFICE Magazine, a trade magazine, this site contains articles, interviews, news, reviews of current movies, and previews of upcoming films. (

Provides full-text access to reviews, recent film releases, and movie news.

Internet Movie Database (

Perhaps the most significant database of movies available on the Web today, this site contains the largest accumulation of complete production information, reviews, plot summaries, and domestic and foreign films in all genres. IMDB also features listings, production, and credit information for many popular television programs, and millions of filmographies and biographies of people from all levels of the film and television industry.

Movie Review Query Engine (

Searchable database that accesses full text of reviews of popular movies culled from a variety of sources.

New York Times Movie Reviews (

Every movie review in the New York Times archive from 1983 to the present—more than 5,000 reviews in all—is accessible.

Rotten Tomatoes: Movie Reviews and Previews (

Critical reaction from the nation’s top print and online film critics of movies deemed “rotten tomatoes” makes up this fun site.

Careers Related to Film and Television

Film Career Field (

In the Woody Allen film Annie Hall, Allen tells Diane Keaton, “A relationship is like a shark . . . if it doesn’t keep swimming, it dies.” This could also serve as a good metaphor for the film industry. For over 100 years, the film industry has avoided many deaths by moving forward. It has adapted to the times, enjoying golden eras and surviving slumps. But such complexities can be expected of an industry driven by both art and commerce. The film industry holds a place in the American imagination like no other, while also maintaining a firm hold on the American pocketbook.

Television Career Field (

Modern television developed from experiments with electricity and vacuum tubes in the mid-1800s, but it was not until 1939, when President Franklin Roosevelt used television to open the New York World’s Fair, that the public realized the power of television as a means of communication. Several television stations went on the air shortly after this demonstration and successfully televised professional baseball games, college football games, and the Republican and Democratic conventions of 1940. The onset of World War II limited the further development of television until after the war was over.

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