Victor Perkins (1936&;2016) was a foundational figure for the study of film both as a writer and as an educationalist and teacher who played a key role in establishing film within British higher education. Best known for his 1972 book Film as Film, Perkins has a worldwide reputation within film studies that has been enhanced in recent years by the interest among emerging scholars in the practices of detailed film criticism. His extensive writing in journals and edited collections, spanning sixty years, is less well known, despite its importance and quality, partly because much of it was published in small magazines with limited distribution. V. F. Perkins on Movies: Collected Shorter Film Criticism, edited by Douglas Pye, makes it possible to see his writing as a coherent body of work, developed over a long career, and to appreciate its great historical and cultural significance.
Part 1 of the book covers Perkins&;s early articles from 1960 to 1972, showing the emergence of ways of thinking about criticism and movies that remained constant throughout his career. Perkins was one of a small group of British writers who pioneered the serious and systematic discussion of Hollywood cinema. Beginning at the University of Oxford in the pages of Oxford Opinion, and then in Movie, the journal they established in 1962, these writers mounted a sustained critique of established writing on film, arguing for a criticism rooted in the detailed decisions that make up the complex texture of a film. The work Perkins published in the 1980s and beyond, which makes up part 2 of this volume, was resolute in upholding his critical values. It elaborated his approach in studies of individual movies and their makers and also reflected on major critical and conceptual issues, while maintaining his lifelong commitment to writing accessibly in ordinary language.
V. F. Perkins on Movies gives unimpeded access to one of the most distinctive and distinguished of critical voices and will be widely welcomed by academics, students of film, and informed film enthusiasts.