The History of Films in Review

 

IN 1909, A GROUP OF RIGHT-MINDED NEW YORK CITY ACTIVISTS MOBILIZED AGAINST MOTION
PICTURE CENSORSHIP. THEY SUCCESSFULLY ANGLED A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE NASCENT FILM
COMMUNITY AND THE FORCES OF LOCAL CENSORSHIP, GROWING INTO AN ORGANIZATION
WHOSE IMPRIMATUR – PASSED BY THE NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW – CAN BE SEEN IN THE TITLE
SEQUENCES OF COUNTLESS FILMS FROM 1910 THROUGH THE 1950s.


THE NBR’S FIRST MAGAZINE WAS CALLED ‘FILM PROGRAM.’ A LATER VERSION WAS ENTITLED
‘NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW MAGAZINE.’ EVENTUALLY AND SUCCESSFULLY, IN 1950, THE NBR
INAUGURATED ‘FILMS IN REVIEW MAGAZINE’, A DIGEST-SIZED PUBLICATION WITH FAR MORE
PHOTOGRAPHS AND READER-FRIENDLY ARTICLES THAN THE PREVIOUS, RELATIVELY DRY
PUBLICATIONS CONTAINED.


I HAD BEEN A CONTRIBUTOR TO FILMS IN REVIEW FOR THIRTY YEARS. IN THE MID-90s, FIR’S
PARENT COMPANY – A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION – FOUND IT WAS NOT IN A FINANCIAL
POSITION TO CONTINUE PUBLISHING THE MAGAZINE. FROM SELLING MY SCREENPLAY, THE
SUBSTITUTE (WHICH LED TO SEVERAL SEQUELS), I DECIDED TO BUY FIR AND RESCUE IT. UNDER THE
CORPORATE NAME THEN AND THERE MEDIA LLC, WE DID INDEED SAVE THE PRINT VERSION OF
FILMS IN REVIEW… TEMPORARILY.


TWO YEARS LATER, REVENUE GREW AND THE PREVIOUS LOSSES DWINDLED. HOWEVER, THE
FINANCIAL REALITIES OF PUBLISHING FORCED THE DECISION TO FOLLOW THE WAY OF MANY PRINT
MAGAZINES AND GO ONLINE.


THE DECISION HAS PROVEN WILDLY SUCCESSFUL AS FILMS IN REVIEW NOW HAS A GLOBAL
AUDIENCE.


ONE OF OUR CONTINUING FEATURES, WHICH I AM CONFIDENT NEW READERS AND OLD FRIENDS
WILL LOVE, IS THE FIR ARCHIVE. MANY INCREDIBLE SURPRISES AWAIT YOU GOING BACK FORTY,
FIFTY, AND SIXTY YEARS INTO THE PUBLICATION’S PAST.


IN THE NEW INCARNATION OF THE FIR WEBSITE, WHICH YOU ARE READING NOW, WE CONTINUE
TO FEATURE LONG-LOST ARTICLES FROM OUR VAULT INCLUDING FAMOUS FILMMAKERS SUCH AS
ALFRED HITCHCOCK, WALT DISNEY, HURD HATFIELD, IDA LUPINO, DIMITRI TIOMKIN, CARL DREYER,
JEAN RENOIR, KING VIDOR AND A TREASURE TROVE MORE. THESE ARTISTS WERE EAGER TO SHARE
THEIR THOUGHTS WITH FIR BACK IN THE DAY. MANY BUDDING ARTISTS WHO WROTE FOR US ARE
NOW CONSIDERED MASTERS OF THEIR FIELDS. STEPHEN SONDHEIM, FOR EXAMPLE, GRACED OUR
PAGES AS A FILM REVIEWER LONG BEFORE HE WAS A WORLD-RENOWNED COMPOSER. WITH
FILMS IN REVIEW BEING THE OLDEST AND THE ONLY SERIOUS FILM MAGAZINE DURING ITS EARLY
DECADES OF PRINT PUBLICATION, THEIR INSIGHTS AND INSPIRATIONS ARE STILL AVAILABLE AND
VIABLE TODAY.


WE HOPE YOU ARE ENJOYING FILMS IN REVIEW!


-ROY FRUMKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF