Archive for October 17th, 2014


Note:  This longer piece from Allan on Halliwell’s famous Film Guide is the fifteenth in the ongoing Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  It was selected by site regular and impassioned film buff Peter M.

by Allan Fish

I can well remember my first Film Guide.  It was the Halliwell’s, 6th edition, from around 1987.  Harold Lloyd was on the cover, his hands sticking out in front of him to stop that flying girder in his classic short Never Weaken.  My acquaintance with that guide, at the age of fifteen in late 1988, came less than 12 months before Leslie Halliwell’s premature death in his 60th year in early 1989.  He’d spent over two decades updating the ‘Filmgoer’s Companion’ and, latterly from the mid 70s, the ‘Halliwell’s Film Guide’.  The third reference book he wrote, the ‘Television Companion’ died with him, the last edition going out in 1986, and a fair proportion of that work had, in the immediately preceding years, been done by Philip Purser.  Besides, Britain in 1989 was the cusp of satellite television, of Sky and BSB before they merged, and the time when cable TV really started coming into its own in the US. 

In short, that book was no longer practicable.   The Guide and the Companion continued, however, and under the auspices of John Walker the Guide maintained its former glories, and whindled away the prejudice – not without just cause – that modern films were given short shrift in the Guide (at Halliwell’s death in 1989, no films since Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 had the maximum **** rating).  Both books entered the new millennium more valuable and exhaustively researched than they’d ever been, but then but a year or two ago the decision was made – who by, who knows? – to replace Walker with David Gritten.  I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but when you consider the book was published by Harper Collins, well known as part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, then one has to have grave suspicions about the motives for the change. (more…)

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