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"The most comprehensive work of its kind anywhere."—Larry King, USA Today
For as long as he can remember, Leonard Maltin has loved movies. At just 15, he launched his own magazine,Film Fan Monthly, which he edited and published for nine years. At age 18, this endeavor led to the creation of his bestselling video guide -- first published in 1969 -- which is now one of the most dog-eared reference books in America today, next to the dictionary!
From deciding what movie to watch to settling arguments about who directed, starred in, or had cameos in even some of the most obscure films, millions rely on Maltin's critical acumen and meticulous accuracy. If you have seen Maltin as the regular movie critic for TV's "Entertainment Tonight" or heard his daily syndicated radio program, "Leonard Maltin's Video View," you know how sharp his film commentary can be. Fellow film critic Roger Ebert, in the introduction to his video guide, says, "For an exhaustive guide to some nineteen thousand movies on TV and video, I recommend Leonard Maltin's guide, which has become a standard."
Leonard Maltin's 1999 Movie & Video Guide is bigger and better than ever, and completely up-to-date, featuring capsule reviews of such recent hits as "Titanic," "As Good as It Gets," and "The Full Monty." Whether it's the summer blockbusters, Jimmy Stewart classics, the comedies of the Marx Brothers, this year's Oscar winners, or the cartoons of Walt Disney, with more than 19,000 entries, you will always know which films you won't want to miss and those you will. All entries are listed alphabetically with all the essential information, such as release date, format, original length, director, stars, and key songs (for musicals).
This year's guide contains the features that have made it a perennial favorite, including:
Key features in the 1999 edition include:
More popular than ever, Leonard Maltin has earned the gratitude of film lovers nationwide with his passionate advocacy of movies from the silent era to the present. Leonard Maltin's 1999 Movie & Video Guide is easily the most informative, not to mention entertaining, book of its kind.
Leonard Maltin: Tell your copy editors to keep their cotton pickin' hands off my copy!
Leonard Maltin: To answer the second part of your question first, yes, it's a very hard process to drop anything. So far the only films that have been dropped are made-for-TV movies, no theatrical titles as yet.
Leonard Maltin: When it comes to the AFI list, everybody has an opinion...and lots of questions. I was very glad to see "Citizen Kane" on top, where I think it belongs. There were many omissions that disappointed me, mostly in the area of silent films, where there were so many milestones and masterpieces that were utterly ignored -- not to mention the entire work of Buster Keaton! Plus Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals, Ernst Lubitsch comedies, et cetera, et cetera. On the whole, though, the list wasn't as bad as I feared it might be!
Leonard Maltin: First, thanks for the compliment. And yes, I think a love of movies is essential to being a good critic. Knowledge is equally important, but without a love (or passion, if you prefer that word), what's the point?
Leonard Maltin: Hi. I don't have my own web site, but I do write a weekly column (and have for several years) for Microsoft's Cinemania Online. Cinemania is now being folded into their Sidewalk site, but there is still a Cinemania site you can find on the MSN network, and I enjoy writing my piece every week. I think my publisher also has a site for my movie guide.
Leonard Maltin: I see a movie once -- just like everybody else. And that's the fairest way to judge it. Yes, I go with my gut feeling, for better or worse.
Leonard Maltin: I'm really the wrong guy to ask, as I never rent movies. Because I review movies, I get sent screening copies of almost everything that comes out on video. I'm very lucky this way, needless to say, although if you saw the piles of junk that come through the mail every week -- one dreadful-looking cassette after another -- you'd be amazed.
Leonard Maltin: Of course it's daunting! But you must understand that I've been doing it for (gulp) 29 years!!! I was 17 years old when a publisher hired me to compile the first edition, which had 8,000 listings...and I've been revising, improving, and adding on to that all these years since. I'm never completely satisfied, but I feel confident that the book gets better every year.
Leonard Maltin: A TV screen isn't exactly the same proportion as a movie screen, so a little bit is cut off the sides when it's put on video. It's generally not enough to hurt the film. What does do damage is when a film is made in a wide-screen process and then is "panned and scanned" for a standard TV screen. In those cases as much as a third of the image may be lopped off!
Leonard Maltin: I'd be more caught up in the "Titanic" video hype if I was a profit participant! But, of course, I'm interested to see how successful it is, because by now "Titanic" has become a genuine pop-culture phenomenon. As for the movie, I liked it very much. I wish some of the writing was stronger, and subtler, but there's no denying the power of the film to pull you in and carry you along for three-plus hours.
Leonard Maltin: The independent film business seems to be strong right now, helped in no small part by the demand for product by video companies and cable networks. It seems almost all the really interesting, challenging, original work is done outside the mainstream these days.
Leonard Maltin: To be perfectly honest, I hadn't given it much thought. Just getting the darn thing finished every year is achievement enough!
Leonard Maltin: If I see too many bad -- or mediocre -- movies in a row, I can start getting testy, but all it takes is a good movie, or even a great old movie, to put me back on track. My wife and I still love going to the movies together. I don't go there to analyze; I go to enjoy myself.
Leonard Maltin: It really varies -- from as few as three to as many as ten a week.
Leonard Maltin: Of course, I'd like to think so, but I've never had the incredible drive to do it. If somebody were to hand me 10 or 20 or 30 million dollars, however, I'd be glad to try.
Leonard Maltin: I don't know which '99 edition of the book you're looking at, but there's an entry on page 1,440...and I'd call it a "mixed" review. I wasn't bowled away by it, because I thought it made its point and then didn't go anywhere with it.
Leonard Maltin: Years ago, a famous drama critic replied, in answer to a question like yours, "To be a critic, you must have a job." And it's still true; if someone will hire you to be a critic, that makes you one. There's no entrance exam, as you can tell when you watch some of the people who do it on TV. In my case, it's the culmination of a lifelong love affair with movies. I think if you asked Siskel or Ebert, they would agree that it's simplistic to boil a movie down to a yes/no vote -- but I also learned a long time ago that people like, and respond to, a shorthand opinion like that.
Leonard Maltin: It used to be popcorn (no butter) until I found out how fattening it was. My current favorite is soft pretzel bites, but not every theater carries them. And if I'm being really bad, and not watching my weight, I love Raisinets.
Leonard Maltin: Glad you like the interviews I did with George Lucas. I have talked to him, but he's keeping mum about the new film, as you know. The official web site is revealing more and more all the time, however.
Leonard Maltin: There hasn't been too much that's Oscar-worthy so far this year, but it would be foolish not to figure on "Saving Private Ryan" being a major contender in almost every category.
Leonard Maltin: As long as she keeps choosing interesting and unusual projects and doesn't do the same thing over and over again. Besides, it's no chore to watch her on screen, is it?
Leonard Maltin: I really don't know what's going to be the big Christmas movie this year -- too early to know -- but I'm very curious about "The Thin Red Line," especially in the wake of "Saving Private Ryan." Here comes another World War II movie, this one from a famous novel, with a pretty impressive cast. So we'll see.
Leonard Maltin: Not unless you want to look up made-for-TV movies, which we have to prune every year to make room for new material. The truth is, every year we make corrections and changes that improve the book. Thanks for your kind words on my "baby."
Leonard Maltin: I was blown away by "Private Ryan" -- but I can't call it my "favorite" war movie, because it was too tough to watch...too upsetting. I think of John Ford's "They Were Expendable," King Vidor's "The Big Parade," Sam Fuller's "The Steel Helmet" and "The Big Red One"...those are some of my favorites.
Leonard Maltin: Well, the new ones don't make me laugh as much as the old ones. I think that answers your question!
Leonard Maltin: Yes, and it's an easy answer: My favorite of all time is "Casablanca." If you ask me for a top ten, it gets difficult, but my number one has never changed.
Leonard Maltin: It's hectic when the studios decide to release six films a week as they have lately...but it's still something I love to do. No, I don't have "battles" with other critics. We sometimes have discussions and don't agree with each other. Thanks for the compliment.
Leonard Maltin: I've always had a team of people working with me -- and they've always been listed on the title page along with me. No one person could see 19,000 movies and live to tell about it, let alone write about them intelligently!
Leonard Maltin: It's a World War II movie being directed by Terrence Malick, who hasn't made a film since the beautiful "Days of Heaven" 20 years ago, and it has a lot of people in it, including John Travolta, Sean Penn, and Nick Nolte...many others I can't think of just now... And it's based on a well-regarded novel by James Jones, who wrote FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.
Leonard Maltin: Having just seen the preview for "Prince of Egypt," I'm now very eager to see it. As a longtime animation fan, I had been skeptical about this project, but the preview sold me; it looks terrific.
Leonard Maltin: With Kubrick you never know what you're going to get until you get it. So your guess is as good as mine! I have my fingers crossed that it will be worth the wait.
Leonard Maltin: I like so many actors it's hard to boil it down to a handful, but I always look forward to seeing Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep...and I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp. ut as I say, there are so many I like, young and old. And of course I'm devoted to Humphrey Bogart, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, et cetera.
Leonard Maltin: I'm a little surprised, but not shocked...no one wants to touch a hot potato, and this was very hot because it opens up enormous possibilities for protests, boycotts, and the like. I'm just glad it got made, and that we finally got to see it.
Leonard Maltin: Judging from the box-office response to his last few films, I don't know why they keep trying. But "Airplane" was a big, big hit -- so were the first Naked Gun films -- and there are still people who believe that lightning can strike again. He's a very talented actor and shouldn't be blamed for the quality of those pictures. He was even good in the otherwise dreadful "Mr. Magoo"!
Leonard Maltin: It happened exactly like this: In May of 1982 I was on the "Today Show" promoting a book I'd written; Gene Shalit interviewed me and we had a very loose, lively conversation. Someone at Paramount TV was watching and called the man who was then running "Entertainment Tonight" -- in the midst of its first season on the air. He said, "You're looking for a new film critic, aren't you? Well, you ought to check out this guy I saw on the 'Today Show' this morning." They called me, I auditioned, and I've been there ever since -- 16 years and counting!
Leonard Maltin: I don't think it's cricket to review an unfinished film, and I don't blame Hollywood producers and distributors for being upset. Broadway shows traditionally break in "out of town" for the same reason, to work out the kinks before they come before the critics.
Leonard Maltin: When I was a kid, I was very impressed by Sinclair Lewis's ARROWSMITH, and I fell in love with Charles Dickens's DAVID COPPERFIELD. I was actually inspired to read Dickens after seeing the movie, which I also love. But when I finally got to see "Arrowsmith," I was disappointed, because it didn't have the richness or the impact of the novel. But then, that's almost always the case!
Leonard Maltin: I make it a practice not to walk out on movies, but once or twice -- just once or twice -- over the years I've done it. Once was "The Choirboys," a raunchy film of the Joseph Wambaugh novel. More recently I tried a film with Paul Reiser called "Mr. Write" that was so awful in the very first minute, I figured it was a signal to get out while the getting was good. As for the worst I've ever seen, there are so many to choose from...but "Striptease" comes right to mind...also "Maximum Overdrive" (Stephen King) and "Transylvania 6-5000."
Leonard Maltin: It's too soon to tell whether some of the new flavor-of-the-month actors have what it takes to stick around. We'll have to wait and see!
Leonard Maltin: There have been many great movies made from books, but generally they have to be taken on their own terms and not compared side by side. It's rare when a film can come up to the experience of reading a great novel -- they're bound to disappoint in some way.
Leonard Maltin: Yup.
Leonard Maltin: We include just about every major studio movie and every independent or foreign film that's made some kind of splash during the course of the year, plus a smattering of TV movies and some older films that come off the shelf and find a new life on video or cable TV. It's a lot to deal with every year, believe me -- and we write our own synopses.
Leonard Maltin: It happens often. I thought "Cousin Bette" was a pretty good movie -- what I call an "almost." A fine cast, some terrific scenes, strong moments, but when it was done I didn't feel satisfied. I could give you lots of such examples.
Leonard Maltin: It isn't just you.
Leonard Maltin: Hi...as I told another questioner, I don't like the practice. I just don't think it's fair.
Leonard Maltin: I'm gratified that so many people had questions -- and good, intelligent questions, too. I know that one reason I've been able to make improvements and positive changes in my guides all these years is the feedback I've always gotten from readers. (If/when we ever make a mistake, we hear about it -- fast!) So thanks for giving me this forum, and thanks to those of you who've said such nice things about my work in print and on "Entertainment Tonight."