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Understanding Film

A Viewer’s Guide

James R. Russo is an independent researcher who holds graduate degrees from Louisiana State University and the University of Richmond. He has taught at those schools as well as Tulane. Russo’s primary scholarly interests are the cinema and comparative literature. He has recently published The Bookman: William Troy on Literature and Criticism, 1927–1950; Film Nation: William Troy on the Cinema, 1933–1935; and Analyzing Drama: A Student Casebook.

This film analysis textbook contains sixteen essays on historically significant, artistically superior films released between 1922 and 1982. Written for college, high school, and university students, the essays cover central issues raised in today’s cinema courses and provide students with practical models to help them improve their own writing and analytical skills. 

This film casebook is geographically diverse, with eight countries represented: Italy, France, the United States, Russia, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and India. The essays, sophisticated yet not overly technical or jargon-heavy, are perfect introductions to their respective films as well as important contributions to the field of film studies in general. The book’s critical apparatus features credits, images, and bibliographies for all films discussed, filmographies for the directors, a glossary of film terms, the elements of film analysis, a chronology of film theory and criticism, topics for writing and discussion, a bibliography of film criticism, and a comprehensive index.

Understanding Film: A Viewer’s Guide bucks the trend of current film analysis texts (few of which contain actual film analyses) by promoting analysis of the chosen films alongside the methods and techniques of film analysis. It has been prepared as a primary text for courses in film analysis, and a supplementary text for courses such as Introduction to Film or Film Appreciation; History of Film or Survey of Cinema; and Film Directors or Film Style and Imagination.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-117-7
Hardback Price: £60 / $69.95
Release Date: April 2022
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-118-4
Paperback Price: £27.95 / $34.95
Release Date: April 2022
Page Extent / Format: 256 pp. 229 x 152mm
Illustrated: Illustrated with 16 film stills




  1. Nosferatu (1922), F. W. Murnau, German
  2. Earth (1930), Alexander Dovzhenko, Russian
  3. La Grande illusion (1937), Jean Renoir, French
  4. To Be or Not to Be (1942), Ernst Lubitsch, American
  5. Tokyo Story (1953), Yasujiro Ozu, Japanese
  6. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Jacques Tati, French
  7. La strada (1954), Federico Fellini, Italian
  8. Some Like It Hot (1959), Billy Wilder, American


INTERLUDE: Film Capsules, 1960–1963 


  1. L’avventura (1960), Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian
  2. Shoot the Piano Player (1960), François Truffaut, French
  3. The Fiancés (1963), Ermanno Olmi, Italian
  4. How I Won the War (1967), Richard Lester, British
  5. A Gentle Creature (1969), Robert Bresson, French
  6. Vengeance Is Mine (1979), Shohei Imamura, Japanese
  7. The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Rainer Werner Fassbinder, German
  8. The Case Is Closed (1982), Mrinal Sen, Indian


Film Credits & Directors’ Filmographies

Glossary of Film Terms

Elements of Film Analysis

Chronology of Film Theory & Criticism

Topics for Writing & Discussion

Bibliography of Criticism


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