This is possibly the most entertaining, surprising and enjoyable film book ever written. Thomson set himself the near-foolhardy task of writing one page each on 1000 of the films that he has particularly liked – or in some cases, abhorred. Some half-million words of funny, vigorous, wayward prose later, we are all the happy beneficiaries of his deranged labour.
Always unexpected, never repetitive, ‘Have You Seen.?’ can be read consecutively – from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to Zabriskie Point – or dipped into over many years, and it is a masterclass in how to write about films and how to love them. Sometimes Thomson will be interested in the director, sometimes in the culture that made such a film possible at such a time, sometimes in the stars (always in the stars, to be honest), and sometimes even in the outrageous cynicism and corruption of most financial backers.
‘Have You Seen.?’ is crammed with great love stories, westerns, musicals, war stories, comedies, and dramas. It is as in awe of film noir as of silent farce, and adores Hollywood but also favours British, Japanese and European cinema: camp disasters, kitsch and pretention hold no fears. If Thomson has a bottom line it is his incredulity that so much that is so enjoyable and moving and worthwhile was ever made at all – and that thanks to DVD we can now watch it forever. ‘Have You Seen.?’ will redirect how you spend your evenings for the rest of your life – for the better.