Remember that I have not seen everything and therefore do not be disappointed if you find a title missing. I would be happy, though, were you to contact me with such omissions and will do my best to view and include them.
- An Alternative title is given if there is one. The same entry can be viewed by submitting either title into the search engine.
- Next comes whatever Technical data are appropriate, beginning with col/bw, followed by aspect ratio and finally running time in minutes (or feet for early silents). For aspect ratio it is assumed that whatever obtained at the time as standard is the default, and so will not be given (e.g. silents and most early sound, 1.33:1; circa 1960 and after, American or European widescreen: 1.85:1 or 1.66:1). Generally speaking, films made before 1927 can be considered silent unless stated otherwise; 1927 and after can be considered ‘sound’ and will be marked ‘silent’ if not.
- Country of origin gives the country or countries of production rather than the language you can expect to hear.
- Rating – this is based on a four-star system, with no stars awarded for dreck. Essentially, no stars shaded betokens a film without any real points of interest for the movie scholar; watching it may yield the odd pleasure if you are a devotee of the genre, star or director, but missing it will almost certainly only mean missing their weakest work. One star signals a film in which there is perhaps one good reason to see it – a performance, a script idea, a spirited bit of handling, a fine production – but which somehow falls short of distinction. Two stars means a good film in all departments: everyone concerned can feel satisfied at a job well done, even if they haven’t quite attained greatness. Three stars suggests something original has certainly been achieved, and that the viewer might feel he is in the presence of art, and not just an efficiently wrought entertainment. Finally, four stars are reserved for the barely disputed masterpieces of the medium, films that mean a great deal to the culture they come from and have something magical to offer about what it is to be a human being.
- Cast – usually only the leading players are given, for brevity’s sake.
- Synopsis – this is my summary of the action and, while I generally try not to give away the ending, I cannot guarantee against spoilers!
- Times seen – this final figure is, you may feel, of limited public interest, but it may serve to highlight the importance of a given film to me emotionally, and thus enable you to take my comments in proportion.