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Hope Library Guides

History 280 - Perspectives on Modern Imperialism: Film Reviews

A guide for Marc Baer's Fall 2014 HIST 280 course.


The best tools for locating reviews will vary depending on when your film was produced.  If you film was released in 1980 or later, you will have the most success searching with OneFile PowerSearch, JSTOR, or Lexis Nexis.  All three of these index materials from the last 30 years.

OneFile PowerSearch

To search for film reviews in OneFile PowerSearch, use the title of your movie as keywords and combine them with the Document Type "Movie Review" and the date your film was released.

Remember: not all of the articles are available as electronic full text right here in the database.  If you see it listed as only "Citation" use the "Full Text Options" link to check to see if we have it elsewhere.  Since these are older movies, many of the documents will only be in print or on microfilm, so ask at the reference desk if you have trouble locating things.

Chicago Tribune and New York Times

ProQuest provides access to both the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times back into the 19th century. 

Lexis Nexis

Lexis Nexis is a full-text database, one of whose major functions is as a source for newspapers from around the world.

Here are some of tips for searching for film reviews.

1.  The easiest method is to limit your Article Type to "Movie Review" and search with just the keyword of your film name.  This will provide a nice short list of reviews for many films, but it will not include every article that substantially discusses your film.

2.  The second method is to not limit to an Article Type but to include words like "movie or film" AND "review" in your keyword search.

lexis nexis film reviews

Humanities Abstracts

Humanities Abstracts can sometimes be a good option for finding film reviews, but it can be somewhat difficult to search cleanly (that is, without generating a lot of interference from only superficially related search results. To avoid this, you can use a DESCRIPTOR controlled vocabulary search.

-The format you will use is: DE "Film title (Motion picture) -- Reviews"

Note that this, like Historical Abstracts, is not a full-text database. That means you'll need to check out "Full-text options" to see about getting any full reveiws you find.

Films before 1980

If you are researching the Battle of Algiers you will need a slightly different set of databases in order to find your reviews.

Reader's Guide Retrospective

Reader's Guide Retrospective indexes popular serials from before 1982. There are a couple of tactics you can use to find film reviews.

One way is to include key search terms in your search string: "motion picture" and "review." Inlcude these in your search along with the film title (in ""). 

reader's guide retro

A convenient way to limit your results ONLY to reviews of movies in Reader's Guide Retrospective is to use the subject phrase "motion picture reviews":

Make sure you always specify the date range, as in searching other databases.

It is not a full-text database so you will need to use the "WebBridge" link to check for availability in print or online.

The older magazines are often available either in bound volumes in the stacks or on microfiche on the second floor.  Ask at the reference desk if you are having trouble finding the format for your particular year.


JSTOR, which is really an archive of scholarly journals, does contain a number of more academically-oriented film reviews and film-themed research articles, so it can be a great place to find incisive writing about well-known classic films. JSTOR does not have the indexing infrastructure that other databases do, however, so putting together a successful search can be tricker. Try these tips for mining JSTOR:

Sources in other formats

The New Yorker isa great resource for finding film reviews. We have it in bound periodical fomat (1959-1985), microform (1986-2009), and electronically (after 2002).