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May 2010, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Steffen, James M" <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 4 May 2010 16:26:49 -0400
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Colleagues:

I want to bring your attention to some problems that I've identified so far with the "Variety Movie Reviews" feature of EbscoHost's Film and Television Literature with Full Text database.

Here are my observations:

Many films that Variety reviewed are not listed at all. Examples include not only foreign films such as "The Color of Pomegranates" (reviewed as "Sayat Nova" on 6/21/1978) but Hollywood studio productions such as the classic "Baby Face" starring Barbara Stanwyck (reviewed 6/27/1933) and "On the Sunny Side" (reviewed 2/4/1942).

Most (all?) of the older films incorrectly list January 1 for the review date. To give just one example, the record for "Magnificent Obsession" (reviewed 5/12/1954) lists a date of 1/1/1954. I've spot-checked films from other years, ranging from 1932 to 1987, and have found the same problem on a systematic basis: they list January 1 regardless of the actual review date. I'm not sure what year this problem gets resolved, but by some point in the 1990s it doesn't appear to be an issue any more.

Lastly, the indexing doesn't link up well between the main database content and the "Variety Movie Reviews" feature. The film "Asik Kerib"/"Ashik Kerib" (reviewed 9/14/1988) doesn't appear if you search in the "Variety Movie Reviews" search interface, but you can find a citation for the review using the database's default "new search" function. I've found quite a few other examples of this, also from different years. In other words, the different sections of the Film and Television Literature Index don't talk to each other. I think this is a serious problem: if a user is looking for Variety film reviews specifically, they will probably search first using the "Variety Movie Reviews" button, and they might assume that the citation isn't in the database at all when in fact you can find it in a different section.

For the time being I'm recommending that students and faculty use the print index instead for pre-1996 Variety film reviews.

At any rate, I'd be curious to hear of any experiences you've had with the "Variety Movie Reviews" feature specifically or other aspects of Film and Television Literature database.


James Steffen

James M. Steffen, PhD
Film Studies and Media Librarian
Theater and Dance Subject Liaison
Marian K. Heilbrun Music and Media Library
Emory University
540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta, GA 30322-2870

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