‘Have You Seen…?’ A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films by David Thomson - review by Christopher Bray

Christopher Bray

Follow the Trail

‘Have You Seen…?’ A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films


Allen Lane 1,007pp £22

Have You Got Time? would have been a more apt title. Like his Biographical Dictionary of Film, David Thomson’s Have You Seen…? is a book for getting lost in. You pick it up wondering whether you really want to set the video for that late-night showing of Beat the Devil, and you put it down an hour later having followed a trail on to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Key Largo (two more Bogart pictures directed by John Huston), through The Big Sleep, The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, To Have and Have Not (Bogies all), doubling back to The Man Who Would Be King (Huston again, this time coaxing career-changing turns from Michael Caine and Sean Connery), which takes you on to Goldfinger (‘I am proposing to let this one film stand for the entire franchise … It beggars belief that these films go on and on’) and Out of Africa (score by Bond maestro John Barry), and … 

But enough. Because beguiling as Thomson’s cobweb of connections is, his book is far more than just another trainspotter’s guide to the silver screen. Like the Biographical Dictionary, Have You Seen…? is a properly critical tract – a book that, worked steadily through, might make a film scholar even out

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