The sixth edition of David Thomson‘s New Biographical Dictionary of Film arrived yesterday on my doorstep. I’ll now regard it as the Marilyn Monroe version. It’s the best all-time reference book about films in the world. It simply has to be on one’s living-room bookshelf or at least on your iPad or Kindle…no arguments. I’ve owned every edition since…when did it begin, the mid ’80s? The book never loses its pungency. I can pick it up any old time and get lost in seconds flat. Some of Thomson’s appraisals are more than brilliant — I could go on for hours but try “bitter”, “hilarious”, “cruel”, “pithy”, “devastating”, “delicious”, “serene”, etc. I know I’m supposed to acknowledge the new arrivals and the new focus on cable stars (Gandolfini, Cranston), etc. Read the following excerpts from Thomson’s profiles of Fred MacMurray and Madonna after the jump. If they don’t persuade, you’ll never be persuaded.