Popular Pictures of the Hollywood 1940s is a minor masterpiece in the film book genre. Although the author finds much excellence in the films he has chosen, he is also not afraid to criticize harshly. A fine example of Reid's vitriol comes with his review of Mr Ace, which starred George Raft and Sylvia Sidney: "It's unbelievably dull. Makes you wonder how any producer not madly besotted with his leading lady would agree to finance such a tepid, actionless, talky screenplay. As a political drama, it packs no punches, as romantic fluff, it generates no heat."
Generally, however, Reid finds much to admire in the films he writes about. He is a full-fledged movie buff, but not a drooling one. His selections range from Son of Dracula ("a minor masterpiece of the 'B' Gothic cinema") to Tarzan Triumphs ("the climax in which Johnny Weissmuller taunts the Nazi before leading him to a gruesome death, has a prolonged, psychologically violent intensity rare in the kiddies' matinee movie").
All told, more than 150 films are featured in this surprising book. They all contain exhaustive information on credits, casts, box-office figures and release dates. The Sea Hawk is here. So are Raffles, Mildred Pierce, Lulu Belle, Mrs Miniver, Andy Hardy, Charlie Chan, Kit Carson, Roxie Hart, The Gay Sisters, The Marx Brothers, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Roy Rogers, My Friend Flicka and The Howards of Virginia, to name but a few.