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School Library Journal
Schneider, the editor behind 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, has assembled a large team of professors, film historians, writers, editors, and others to contribute to these entertaining single-volume references. Primarily of Anglo-American authorship, both books are arranged chronologically by date of birth and follow the same format: e.g., the bibliographical entries include one highlighted brief but revealing quote either by the person under consideration or by a highly recognized individual about the person in question. Of the total number of contributors to Directors, about 40 percent are from the United States, 24 percent are from the United Kingdom, and the balance is mostly from Australia, Canada, and four European countries. The volume represents quite a variety of perspectives, both in terms of the nationality and of the disciplines of the contributors. The filmmakers do not always garner the same level of coverage as the movie stars (perhaps because information about movie directors is not as readily available as that for movie stars). For this reason, Directorsis useful for bringing to our attention directors born between the 1860s and the 1970s (the last entry is for David Gordon Green, born in 1975).
Movie Starsalso starts with the 1860s but ends with the 1980s (with actress Natalie Portman, born in 1981). The unusual choice of arranging the entries by sequential birthdays means that in order to find someone of interest, readers must use the contents pages. There is a pithy index, but it covers only references within the entries. There is no index to the film titles mentioned in each entry. Each person receives at least a one-pageentry, with a photograph (usually in color) and a list of "Top Takes...." (a list of film credits). The birth date and place of birth begin each entry, followed by a section titled "Star Qualities." (Marilyn Monroe, for example, is described as "'The Blond Bombshell'; quintessential blue-eyed, blonde movie star with a breathless voice and enviable figure; natural comedy talent.") The most notable actors are represented with additional photographic stills from their significant films. The biographical aspects tend to be very limited and inconsistent from one entry to another. The film highlights are of the greatest value.
—Graham R. Walden
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