Standard Article

American Film Criticism

3. 1946 to 1975

5. Film and Culture: Summary Essays

  1. David Sterritt

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf067

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Sterritt, D. 2011. American Film Criticism. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 3:5:64.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


From its beginnings, film criticism has been divided among contrasting goals, methodologies, and means of distribution that have never been authoritatively sorted out by either practitioners or theorists. One division is between the concepts of criticism and reviewing. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are sometimes distinguished from each other such that the “critic” produces comparatively deep and thorough readings, perhaps assuming that the reader has already seen the film(s) under discussion, while the “reviewer” produces less detailed and interpretive accounts, emphasizing descriptions and evaluations that readers may use in deciding what films they want to see. Another division is between journalistic and scholarly or theory-based criticism. These terms appear to set forth a clear-cut distinction between articles published in newspapers and magazines, on one hand, and in academic books and journals, on the other. In practice, however, academic critics frequently publish their work in general interest periodicals, and journalists appear side by side with scholars in some eclectic film magazines.


  • critic;
  • criticism;
  • review;
  • aesthetics;
  • psychology;
  • politics;
  • sociology;
  • realism;
  • ethnology;
  • auteur