Leslie Halliwell.com
biography bibliography the four star films Four-Star History brief history of the guide the original halliwell editions favourite reviews the boltonian cambridge  
tv & film obituaries modern times the top tens decline & fall of the movie universal monster movies a word on shape old versus new my guide

Out now: the first full biography of the film encyclopaedist and television impresario Leslie Halliwell.

Researched from hundreds of articles and books, Halliwell's Horizon additionally features personal contriubutions from many of Leslie's colleagues and friends, including Michael Winner, Sir Michael Parkinson and Bamber Gascoigne; television moguls Sir Paul Fox and Sir Denis Forman; authors and critics Philip French, Leonard Maltin, David Quinlan and Philip Purser - as well as Halliwell's stepdaughter Denise and a host of school and university friends.

Author and film historian Jeffrey Richards said of Halliwell's Horizon: 'I enjoyed it enormously. It combines exhaustive research with critical insight and affectionate regard, bringing Halliwell and his work to vivid life.'

Also available in hardback and paperback from:


          This website celebrates Halliwell's Film Guide, which from 1977 to its author's untimely death in 1989 was the indespensable film reference book, and which – along with Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion – provided cinema fans of the time with their only handy sources of information about the movies, and the men and women who made them.
          The Guide was suffused with the personality – and prejudices – of its creator, Bolton-born Leslie Halliwell, a man of unparalleled film knowledge, who for over fifty years was the cinema’s biggest fan, and its harshest critic.  An unashamed devotee of the Golden Age of Hollywood when the big studios churned out movies on a production-line basis, he was often criticised for his pithy comments and succinct dismissals of more recent films, his assessments growing ‘increasingly weary and blimpish’ according to one observer.  Halliwell’s lack of acceptance of modern movies was easily demonstrated by the fact that not a single production from the seventies and eighties received his highest rating of four stars (the most recent to do so, in fact, was 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde).

          But despite this he remained a true fan of the cinema, and even if upon rifling through the Guide you found out that he hated all of your favourite films (which was pretty likely if they had been made in the previous twenty years) you could at least be enthused by his glowing reviews of The Grapes of Wrath and Singin’ in the Rain and The Bride of Frankenstein and hundreds of others.  You also couldn’t fail to be impressed by the meticulous research that must have gone into the retrieval of information on around 16,000 productions in an age without any similar printed works, or the internet.
          Halliwell’s Film Guide continues to be published to the present day, but with the addition of a different author and the revision of existing entries gone forever is the unique personality of the book, which was for seven editions not only a vast mine of information but also a remarkably consistent collection of opinions, intelligent observations and affection for a bygone age.
          So please have a look around this site and explore the life and work of the greatest cinema aficionado of them all.  I shall endeavour along the way to keep my own opinions to a minimum but the very fact that I bothered at all should at least give some clue as to where my cinema sentiments lie.  Any comments, suggestions and corrections can be sent to halliwellsguide@yahoo.co.uk.
          For information about Leslie Halliwell’s life and work see Biography, and for a list of his books which are mostly now out of print, see Bibliography
          LH edited seven editions of the Guide, and for a look at how each one changed from the previous ones see
A Brief History of the Guide, with Editions giving the details of each publication.

          For an amusing trawl through some of Halliwell’s best ‘worst’ reviews, see Favourite Reviews, and for his opinions on more recent movies he liked and disliked, see Modern Times.

          As mentioned previously, four stars was the highest rating Halliwell could give.  For a complete list of the four-star films and how they evolved throughout the seven editions, see The Four-Star Films.  The entries here also link to a Four-Star History of the Cinema, which puts each movie in its historical context as well as providing a platform for comments and memories byLeslie Halliwell, gleaned from sources other than his Film Guide.

         For a full slant on LH’s opinions on the film industry in the eighties, as opposed to the halcyon days of the thirties and forties, see the essay The Decline and Fall of the Movie.  And for his take on the whole widescreen issue, see A Word on Shape

          For an entertaining and revealing journey through one of LH's favourite genres, see Universal Monster Movies.

          If you've ever wondered what Halliwell's top ten favourite movies were, see Top Tens.

          Halliwell's school, college and working life are briefly covered in the pages The Boltonian, Cambridge and TV & Film Buyer

        For more on the general downturn of the Guide since Halliwell’s day, see the section Old vs New, which includes examples of the kind of sloppy inconsistency his book was thankfully free from.

         My own introduction to the Guide came in 1986.  For my personal experiences and recollections, see My Guide.

         Halliwell sadly died in 1989, and selected tributes are presented in Obituaries.



Biography | Bibliography | The Four Star Films | A Four-Star History | Brief History of the Guide
The Editions | Favourite Reviews | The Boltonian | Cambridge | TV & Film Buyer | Obituaries | Modern Times | Top Tens | Decline & Fall of the Movie | Universal Monster Movies | A Word on Shape | Old vs New | My Guide