David Thomson is the film critic for The New Republic. In the 1970s, he was director of film studies at Dartmouth College. In the 1980s, he was on the selection committee for the New York Film Festival. Among his books are The Biographical Dictionary of Film (now in its fifth edition) and The Big Screen: The Story of Movies.

"Do you remember the movies you saw, like whole vessels serene on the seas of time? Or do you just retain moments from them?" Thomson asks us in the introduction to this beautifully illustrated book with 250+ images in color and black-and-white. The author has chosen to reflect upon 70 films released over a span of 100 years from the silent era to the last decade. In the process, Thomson shares his favorite "moments" in these cinematic treasures.

Among the treats unearthed for us are:

• One of the great pairings in movie romance: Margaret Sullivan and Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner
• Bette Davis as a remarkable star who "hardly ever wasted time trying to be beautiful"
• The cinematic vision of Jean Renoir in The River
• "A smooch in dream history" — Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun
• The panties in Anatomy of a Murder
North by Northwest — "one of our most perverse comedies."
Hiroshima Mon Amour — "a movie that cherishes the body"
• Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim as "the woman 'every' man falls in love with"
• The blend of beauty and satire in The Right Stuff
Blue Velvet and its "insidious mining of our deepest psychic insecurities."
• Meg Ryan's public orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally
• The confrontation between two brothers in A History of Violence

Here is a critic who loves the actors and actresses who possess special beauty, gifts, and charisma on the big screen. Here is a film historian who marvels at the many magic moments he has been able to find. And, last but not least, here is an open-minded writer who embraces a broad range of movies and lavishes them with attention and delight.