15 Classic Movie Review Resources

    You have watched the film and you have written a rough draft of a review. Now you want to add interesting bits of movie trivia to the mix. Where do you go?

    This post updates an earlier post (9 Classic Movie Review Resources). Here, in alphabetical order are some of my favorite places to search for classic movie information.

    Tell me in the comments where you search for classic movie information.

    1. American Film Institute (www.AFI.com)
    This is where you get movie details that are often difficult to find elsewhere. Not only do they offer lists of cast and crew, not only dates of when the movie was released, but specific dates about when the film was shot - information which not every movie database has. 

    Armed with these tidbits you realize that Donald O'Connor shot a whole bunch of films in a short amount of time just before entering the service during World War II. However, the release dates tell you they were doled out like candy throughout the emergency. Fans back home could still see their favorite star even though he hadn't made a film in years.

    2. Archive of American Television  (www.emmytvlegends.org)
    During these unedited interviews of legendary filmmakers and actors, the Archive delves into a performer's entire life, including their foray into movies.

    There is an emphasis on the television side of the career, of course, but many jewels of information about their films are included.

    It is from the Archive that I quoted Ricardo Montalban and discovered that at the end of his life the actor seemed disappointed with his body of work.

    3. Autobiographies
    There is nothing like reading details about a movie straight from the horse's mouth. Biographies are helpful and are sometimes the only thing you've got, but we do prefer those volumes written by the filmmakers or actors themselves.

    4. Daily Script (www.dailyscript.com)  and Drew's Script O'Rama (www.script-o-rama.com) 

    Daily Script and Drew's Script O' Rama are databases of screenplays. Usually it's the final filming script, at other times they upload an original draft. There are a few scripts from the 1930s through the mid-1960s.

    Daily Script uploads directly to its own site. Drew's Script O'Rama is a list of links to various sites.

    It is partly through the Daily Script that I verified information on what is actually happening in All About Eve's 1st scene and gently disagreed with a commentary track released on the DVD.

    5. Filmmakers' DVD Commentaries
    Directors, screenwriters, actors, etc. sit down to view the film in a screening booth and comment on the action, what they remember about this scene or what led to that scene.  This audio becomes a special feature on your DVD, delighting movie fans everywhere.

    You can pull quotes for your reviews.

    6.Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts)

    With Google Alerts, you may have information sent to your email address whenever someone in the news, in a blog post or on a forum mentions a word that interests you.

    I have a Google Alert for "classic movies" sent to me regularly. It is through Google Alerts that I discovered the Peyton Manning article noting  the Denver Broncos quarterback uses classic movie references to create a cohesive football team.

    7. Google Books (www.books.google.com/)
    Google has scanned and uploaded millions of books and magazines page by page. So you can, for instance, read a Life Magazine interview with your favorite classic movie star of the 1940s.

    You can search through a book for a particular story or turn of phrase by simply typing in your word of choice.

    8. Google News Archive (http://news.google.com/newspapers)
    Google is at it again. It has scanned and uploaded millions of newspapers page by page. You can browse by name and year and see what the columns were saying about a person at a certain time in his/her career.

    It is through the Google News Archive that yours truly discovered an open letter of comfort to Judy Garland from producer Billy Rose during a particularly harrowing year for the legendary performer.

    9. Internet Broadway Database (www.IBDB.com)
    Many movies have Broadway connections. A screenwriter's source material might come from the stage or a movie star might have begun or ended his career with a trod on the boards. Did you know that it was Betty Grable's debut on Broadway which landed her a film contract? And what was that hit show? The IBDB will tell you.

    You should trot over to this website for lists of cast and crew and dates for the run of any show on Broadway, past or present.

    10. Internet Movie Car Database (www.imcdb.org)

    This database seeks to identify every car in every movie or TV show, even the vehicles not driven by main characters.

    So far, I've only used this site for personal reasons to track down more information about Remington Steele's old car - an Auburn. It can be useful if a car's identification is a significant part of your movie review.

    11. Internet Movie Database (www.IMDB.com)
    This website is chock full of information about film release dates, names of the films in other languages when released in different countries, connections to other movies, etc. But be careful. Although they do have a governing body, anyone can register and contribute information. Still, it's a great quick stop for general info on movies.

    12. Library of Congress' Photo Stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/)
    Great public domain photos and stories are at the Library of Congress. They give you context surrounding the classic movies we like to review.

    It is an old photo of beautifully-dressed people at the fair which gave yours truly a new perspective of Rodgers' and Hammerstein's State Fair (1945).

    13.Official Film Star/ Filmmaker Websites 
    Some of the great film stars (or their estates) regularly update you on new and exciting projects.

    14. Plays/Novels
    Since many movies have their origin in stage plays or novels,  it is helpful to get into the filmmakers' heads by reading the source material.

    Reverse engineering a film by comparing it to the source material and discovering why they left out that part or kept and expanded this part, aids in appreciating the film.

    15. Starring The Computer (www.starringthecomputer.com)
    This is a continually updated resource identifying every actual model of a computer  (as opposed to a fictional computer) in a movie or television.They also record the machine's importance to the plot and its visibility.

    What are your sources for reviewing movies?

    This post is a part of a weekly series on Java's Journey called "Classic Movie Blog Tips." Posts in this series run every Monday.


    1. Thanks so much. Several sources in your list I haven't looked at.


    Thanks for your contribution to Java's Journey.


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    "Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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