Extremely handy (not to mention fascinating) reference work which lists over 10,000 (predominantly English language) films, starting from the earliest commercial productions. Originally compiled and edited by Leslie Halliwell
(1929-1989) who was a life-long devotee of the cinema, and witnessed first-hand most of the changes that transformed the popular disposable entertainment
of the 1930's into both the most vibrant art
form and (conversely) the most prominent arena for money-driven spectacle
that film represented by the 1980's.
Halliwell's critique of each film takes into account technical merit, artistic credibility and most importantly entertainment value, giving due credit to films that were important landmarks at the time while indicating whether they are still relevant (or even watchable) to modern audiences. The majority of films do not rate a single star under this system, with only a handful obtaining the four-star classic status.
Entries include a brief plot summation, a critical description, and credits where known, indicating particularly exceptional contributions, as well as Academy Awards and Nominations recieved. Sometimes entries carry the poster tagline above the title, which is a nice touch. The year, process, production credit, running time and nationality as well as any alternate titles are also included in most cases.
Halliwell's guide is more comprehensive than any of its rivals (to my knowledge the Virgin Film Guide is a distant second). It may be outstripped by the IMDB for sheer volume of information, but there is something to be said for a guide that manages to fit a consistent and concise body of information into a single volume. Halliwell and his writers clearly love the cinema, and manage to convey their enthusiasm without sounding overly elitist.