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Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965 [Paperback]

Leonard Maltin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 2010 Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
An updated guide to classic movies from the leading authority on film

From the author of the bestselling annual Movie Guide comes this ultimate guide for fans of classic films both familiar and obscure. The Classic Movie Guide covers thousands of films, from the silent era to the 1960s, including The Birth of a Nation, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Grand Illusion, and The Maltese Falcon (all three versions: 1931, 1936, and 1941), Singin' in the Rain, and Godzilla, King of the Monsters! With entries spanning across the decades, this comprehensive guide has expanded star and director indexes, and capsule reviews of obscure and forgotten-the sort that turn up on Turner Classic Movies in the wee hours of the morning. This is the perfect companion for anyone who loves the thrill of discovering vintage movies on DVD or cable.




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Review

"Indispensable." --Los Angeles Times

"Head and shoulders above the rest." --The New York Times

"Maltin's Film Guide...belongs next to every TV and VCR in every home." - -USA Today

"The single most important reference book in every American home." -- Esquire

About the Author

Recognised as one of America's leading film historians and critics, Leonard Maltin has become a household name and media personality due to his regular appearances on the highly successful syndicated TV program Entertainment Tonight and the Encore cable-TV service, his syndicated radio program, Leonard Maltin's Video View, his monthly reviews in Playboy magazine, and the featuring of Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide on the World Wide Web, via the popular Amazon.com website. He lives in Toluca Lake, California.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over Priced! March 23 2013
By zt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I expected somewhat better review details - just gives a very very brief review - not satisfying!

Maybe the next edition will be better.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised Feb. 12 2011
By TimN23
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Fifties schlock movies, so I was delighted to find that L. M.'s Classic Movie Guide contains respectful reviews of all 1950's science fiction and horror movies!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  64 reviews
155 of 159 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I hate to complain. However ... Feb. 6 2010
By J. Michael Click - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Back in 2005 when Leonard Maltin published the first edition of his "Classic Movie Guide", he noted in the foreward that it contained over 1,000 new reviews of pre-1960 films that had begun to show up on DVD and cable channels like Turner Classic Movies, Fox Movie Channel and (Encore) Westerns. He especially trumpeted the addition of many B Westerns, including the complete filmographies of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy. Sure enough, glancing through the book, I noticed that it was heavily weighted toward the "sagebrush sagas" of the 1930's and 1940's, while missing some key "A" titles from the same decades. But Mr. Maltin promised that this fledgling effort would be freshened and updated in five years time; accordingly, I simply took him at his word, was grateful for the first edition, and began eagerly awaiting 2010 and the arrival of the second edition.

Well, it's here. But unfortunately, it definitely was not worth the wait. Sure it covers over 1,500 more films than the first edition - but according to Mr. Maltin himself, over 1,200 of the so-called "new" entries are the result of films from 1961 through 1965 being transferred to this book from his annual "Movie Guide". Just over 300 of the reviews in this second edition are genuinely new material that was previously unavailable elsewhere. Divided into five years, that only comes out to 5 fresh reviews a month - which is only a problem because there are dozens and dozens of older films resurfacing on DVD, cable, and the new DVD-R "manufactured on demand" programs like the Warner Archives, the MGM / Amazon exclusives, and the newly announced Universal MOD series. At best, this second incarnation of Maltin's "Classic Movie Guide" isn't keeping up with the market.

Among the missing are such titles as "The Locked Door", Barbara Stanwyck's first talkie which has been rotating fairly frequently on TCM's schedule; "The Ruling Voice", a fascinating Warner's crime drama starring Walter Huston and Loretta Young; early films currently available from The Warner Archives such as "The Flying Fleet", "Let Us Be Gay", and "Son of the Gods"; "The Perfect Clue", one of many "lost" films now found and available on DVD from companies like Alpha Video ... the casualty list goes on and on. Of course, not every title can or should be included in a reasonably sized and priced volume like the "Classic Movie Guide". But still, one is left to wonder ... are more readers going to be looking for information about "A Ship Comes In", for which Louise Dresser was nominated for the first Best Actress Oscar, and is not included - or for "Hear Me Good", a 1957 turkey that is included?

The bottom line - if you have the "Classic Movie Guide", first edition, think twice before you "upgrade". If you don't have a copy of the original, then go ahead and pick up the 2010 version. It's obviously not perfect, but depite its flaws, it's still the best mass market single-volume guide to the classics that's currently available. I give it **1/2 stars.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best classic movie guide available May 22 2011
By Brucifer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've been buying Leonard Maltin's annual movie guide since 1974, and I have never been swayed away from finding it to be the best guide of its type out there. Maltin's capsule reviews are peerless, managing to capture the essence of any film in only a few lines, and even when mostly panning a film, pointing out the good/interesting aspects. As comprehensive movie reference books go, don't even bother with the others. Since I gravitate more toward classic movies than current ones, and I watch TCM religiously, I was really happy when this guide came out - and likewise when it was revised 5 years later to go up to 1965 rather than 1960 as the cutoff date. Still, I would like to make several suggestions for the next revised version (I hope there is another):

1) Bump up the cutoff year to 1968, but not necessarily beyond that for the time being. 1968 was the year the MPAA was formed and the era of the modern film really began. After that, we're still really in the contemporary era in terms of how most viewers, even younger ones, percive movies. By going to 1968, the book will have incorporated Bonnie & Clyde (the modern crime film), Night of the Living Dead (the modern horror film), 2001 (the modern sci-fi film), etc., thus leading smoothly into the modern movies included in Maltin's annual guide.

2) Offer a hardcover edition of the book. This is the type of guide hardcore movie fans want in a durable edition, even if it will get updated occasionally. Paperback film guides just don't last more than a year or two when they are consulted frequently. Believe me, serious classic movie fans will buy a revised hardcover edition by the time the next edition comes out, even if their previous copy is still in good shape. They'll want the updates. Meanwhile, continue to offer a paperback version for those who prefer one.

3) Keep updating the book with obscure/foreign titles. Lesser known foreign (and British and indie studio American) films continue to be rediscovered. While it's not often that I can "stump" Maltin's book, it does happen on occasion. For example, when attempting to look up films featured in a recent Film Forum retrospective of British film noir and another retrospective of the films of Mikio Naruse at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, I found that a number of titles were missing. Although it's impossible to be absolutely complete in such a wide-ranging film guide, please keep striving in that direction.

4) Include the production studio for each film. Knowing the studio is extremely helpful. Various classic studios had their own styles and subjects (e.g., Warner brothers' gangster films, Universal's horror films, RKO's always reliable B-movies, the mostly horrible output of PRC and Monogram, and the great films from B studios like Ealing, American International, Hammer, etc.), so it's often useful when coming across a film you've not known about before to know which studio produced it.

All in all, though, this is truly the best guide to classic films out there. I only make suggestions because I'm such a fan of the book, and there are always ways to make even the best better.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and reliable Oct. 16 2012
By Alan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I didn't buy the first edition -- it didn't seem necessary. But I decided to buy the second edition, and I'm glad I did. While it doesn't contain everything that a classic movie fan might hope for, it contains plenty. The reviews are concise and generally accurate, providing enough info to let you decide if you want to see a certain movie or not. The large format is nice, too -- the other, "regular" Maltin guide has become too fat and unwieldy to handle with ease. This book has an elegant look and feel. A suggestion for future editions: include more character actors in the "Index of Stars."
Worth buying, especially if it's at a discounted price.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Case of Maltin's Movie Guides: The Expert and the Crowd Aug. 2 2011
By Sam Vaknin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In an age of crowdsourcing and mob "wisdom" made available on every mobile device, why invest in a reference book? With dozens of user reviews available on websites such as imdb.com and rottentomatoes.com for each film ever shot, however obscure - why bother with Maltin's voluminous fine-print doorstopper movie guides? Because Maltin is the Britannica to imdb's Wikipedia: he offers expertise where laymen merely register opinions.

There are two Maltin movie guides: the veteran and venerated "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide", annually published since 1996 and a lighter-weight but equally authoritative "Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide" whose second edition covers movies made no later than 1965. The Guides are mutually exclusive: most films would be listed in either book, but not in both. Each volume proffers between 10,000 (the Classics Guide) and 17,000 (the annual tome) capsule reviews of movies and what a marvel these snippets are!

Each capsule review comes replete with a plethora of information culled from hundreds of sources: date of release, viewing time in minutes, a quality rating assigned by the Guide's editors (more about them later) as well as the MPAA's parental guidance rating, credits of directors and actors involved, a brief synopsis of the plot, and even gossip, cameo appearances, anecdotes, and the social and cultural context of the work - all neatly and articulately folded into a Tweet-like 100 words or less!

The annual guide also includes an incisive and insightful essay (in the form of an introduction) about the current state of the cinematic arts and commerce; lists of movies by topic; mail-order and online sources for home videos (a USA-centric feature, admittedly); a widescreen glossary; and indices of film stars and movie directors, each with his or her respective oeuvre. The Classic Guide augments these offerings with "25 vintage movies you really shouldn't miss."

Back to our opening salvo: why not stick with imdb, or rottentomatoes, both of which now aggregate critics' reviews from a wide variety of sources, print and digital?

When one is faced with a health problem one consults a doctor or two (for a second opinion.) No one I have heard of confers with 10, 70, or 5000 doctors. The element of expertise is crucial. The authors-editors of the two Guides are not merely the world's leading critics (which they are) - but some of them have actually worked in the film industry, bringing to the proverbial table invaluable insights gleaned first-hand.

But surely cinema - as opposed to medicine - is a matter of taste and opinion rather than facts and figures? Well, yes and no. Filmmaking is a discipline which must be learned and assimilated methodically and in-depth. Many of its aspects are utterly objective. The same applies to film historiography. And when it comes to taste and opinion I would rather rely on Maltin's than on any Joe Schmo with a keyboard and time to kill. Even when I wholeheartedly disagree with Maltin, I find that the "dialog" is informed by the collective intelligence and unfathomable knowledge of the crew behind the book.

No lover of the movies should go without a Maltin Guide (or two.)

DISCLAIMER: I have bought every single edition of Maltin's Guides that I possess, except the last two, which were provided to me, as review copies, courtesy Penguin/Alan Lane. Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great Disappointment March 13 2014
By Will Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let's just forget this guy's rating talent. I can be assured that if he trashes a film, I'll like it. My big problem here is with his index of "Stars", 200, as I count, where one can turn to the back pages and see a list of their pre-1966 films. 200 actors in 65 yeas of film. Just let that sink in! You want to see a Margaret O'Brien list? Forget it! Thomas Mitchell? Same. Beulah Bondi? Same Annie Neagle? Same. Margaret Sullavan? Same. Victor Moore? Same. And on and on. All great stars, great actors, totally ignored in this jerk's list of "star" references. But for you Elvis fans, he's there. Kim Novak, Audie Murphy, Jerry Lewis, ad nauseam, they are there. Sign of the times, I can only assume.

But the list of movies is handy, and I bought it as a Turner Classic Movie fan. Just don't trust his ratings. If he says "too talky, slow moving" all that bullcrap, you'l likely love it.
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