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A New Home For Old Movies

Leonard Maltin By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 1, 2011 at 8:33PM

At a recent Hollywood screening a film buff I’ve known for many years asked why he couldn’t find some vintage titles in my newest annual Movie Guide. I asked if he’d looked in our companion volume, 'Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide', and he told me he didn’t know there was such a thing. Arrghhh!, as Charlie Brown used to say...
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Richard Dix and Fay Wray in 'It Happened in Hollywood' (1937), an early writing credit for Sam Fuller, now available on DVD.
Richard Dix and Fay Wray in 'It Happened in Hollywood' (1937), an early writing credit for Sam Fuller, now available on DVD.

At a recent Hollywood screening a film buff I’ve known for many years asked why he couldn’t find some vintage titles in my newest annual Movie Guide. I asked if he’d looked in our companion volume, 'Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide', and he told me he didn’t know there was such a thing.

Arrghhh!, as Charlie Brown used to say. Without a major advertising or publicity campaign, a great many readers aren’t aware we launched a second book, six years ago, to house the titles we’ve had to prune from the yearly Guide. At 1,643 pages we simply can’t make that book any thicker, but we still have to add 300 or more new reviews every year. Solution: a separate book called 'Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide'.

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965, Second Edition

The fun part: for the first edition of this spinoff book we added 1,100 titles we’ve never covered before. When we issued a second edition last year we added 300 more! That’s 1,400 movies from the silent era through the early 1960s, ranging from the B-Westerns of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassidy to works by F.W. Murnau, Anthony Mann, Frank Borzage, Jean Renoir, and Ernst Lubitsch. I suspect the 1930s Warner Bros. movies featuring Guy Kibbee account for several pages’ worth all by themselves.

If you, or a loved one, watch Turner Classic Movies nonstop, this is now the place to find reviews of movies from Hollywood’s golden age. (We didn’t have to cut theatrical movies from our 'Movie Guide' for several decades—which is no mean feat—but people got used to this, and still expect us to fit everything into one bulging paperback. I wish we could.)

Harold Lloyd and Noah Young in Lloyd's first talkie 'Welcome Danger' (1929).
Harold Lloyd and Noah Young in Lloyd's first talkie 'Welcome Danger' (1929).

As an old-movie nut, I’m especially proud of the 'Classic Movie Guide' and wish there were some way of alerting longtime users of my yearly reference book that it exists. (Oh, wait…that’s what I’m doing right now.)

Incidentally, there is still room for expansion, as studios and archives continue to unearth older titles and make them available. The new Jean Arthur DVD collection from TCM has a breezy comedy called 'The Public Menace' (1935) starring Arthur and George Murphy that I’d never seen before. It hasn’t yet turned up on the Turner network, although I’m told it will sometime in early 2012. That’s why I’m keeping track, in the hope that we’ll eventually get to publish a third edition of 'Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide'. If enough people support it—and give copies as gifts this holiday season—we stand a fighting chance.

(note: Still on Home Page of Betty Amann and Gustav Frolich in Joe May’s German silent film Asphalt (1929), which is now available on DVD.)

The current iPhone app for 'Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide' does not incorporate entries from the 'Classic Guide', but it DOES retain the hundreds of older titles that have been dropped from the annual book and moved into the pages of 'Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide'. We’re hoping that the next time the iPhone app is updated it will include all the new entries for the 'Classic' edition.

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965, Second Edition

This article is related to: Journal, Turner Classic Movies, Classic Films