I n 1909, a group of New York City right-minded activists took action against motion picture censorship.
Successfully stepping between the creatives and forces of local censorship on behalf of the good of the citizens, the organization grew. Their imprimatur – passed by the National Board of Review – can be seen on countless films from 1910 through the 1950s.
The NBR’s first magazine was called ‘Film Program.’ A later incarnation was entitled ‘National Board of Review Magazine.’ Eventually and finally, in 1950 they inaugurated ‘Films in Review’, a digest-sized publication with far more photographs and reader-friendly articles than the previous, rather dry incarnations contained.
Lap-dissolve to the 1990's. As was true of many magazines in the mid-90’s, the magazine faltered due to rising printing costs, and its parent company – The National Board of Review – a not-for-profit organization - wasn’t in the financial position to keep it alive. Flash-pan to yours truly, a contributor to Films In Review for thirty years, who was feeling rather flush from the sale and production of a screenplay entitled The Substitute (which led to several sequels, also co-authored by yours truly), and decided to buy FIR to rescue it. Together with partner Joe Anderson, under the corporate name Then and There Media LLC, we did indeed rescue the print version of Films In Review… temporarily.
Two years later, though revenue was growing and the losses dwindling, the larger financial realities of publishing at the time forced the decision to go online/digital-only in the way of Newsweek (which has since resumed print editions) and more recently Conte Nast's SELF magazine, The New York Observer, Spin Magazine (also recently resuming print editions responding to millennial nostalgia) and many others.
One of our continuing features, which I’m certain new readers as well as old friends will love, is the FIR Archive. Going back forty, fifty and sixty years into the publication’s past, there are many incredible surprises awaiting you to uncover. In the new incarnation of this website, which you are reading at this moment, we'll also continue to feature long-lost articles by famous filmmakers who were eager to share their thoughts with FIR back in the day, when the world was different and the now-old-masters' youthful aspirations shone as brightly then as do those of the youngest of their brethren today. Hopefully, they will continue to offer both insight and inspiration for fans and filmmakers, alike. After all, Films In Review was the only serious film magazine out there back then, so you won't find those insights and inspirations anywhere else.
The FIR Webzine has been extensively upgraded recently under the direction of yours truly and Special Contributing Editor, Producer, Director, Animator and friend, David Rosler. In so doing, FIR remains competitive with other movie magazines online while offering stories and articles which are FIR's alone for publication. Being the oldest motion picture journal in the U.S. means staying as modern as the technology while also remaining mindful of the rich and important history of the medium which remains, in the final analysis, the ultimate renaissance art form.
We hope you are enjoying the new upgrade of Films In Review.
~ Roy Frumkes, Editor-In-Chief.