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A New Home For Old Movies

Features
by Leonard Maltin
December 1, 2011 8:33 PM
8 Comments
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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

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8 Comments

  • Duane Fulk | December 5, 2011 12:16 AMReply

    I have your Classic Movie Guide from 6 years ago and use it daily. That edition reviewed movies up through 1960 which was a good year to stop.
    I read somewhere that you dropped some movies for this newest edition which now covers movies up through 1961. Why not keep the stop point at 1960 and add more B westerns and B movies from Monogram, Lippert and the many other short lived studios of the 30's and 40's?
    With Alpha Video, TCM and others offering, or showing, more old and obscure movies every month . . . just please keep adding to your Classic Movie Guide not dropping any movies from it.
    And having at the end of the book 36 pages of an "Index of Stars" is a waste. If anyone wants to see stats of all the movies made by a star - that stuff is easily available on line or in other books. We movie fans buy your book for reviews. And that's exactly what those 36 pages should have been used for.

  • Ken Blose | December 3, 2011 8:05 AMReply

    Hope the classics are on the app, it has been how I get my Maltin of late. I still wish I could have something on my computer, the app has its limits.

  • Kevin | December 2, 2011 10:54 PMReply

    Is there an app for that? It's a bad week when I don't use Movie Guide iPhone app.

    I checked the app for reviews of films mentioned in this article-- _Asphalt_, _Welcome Danger_, and _It Happened in Hollywood_--and got no results. I assume these titles are covered in the Classic Movie books. There's no physical space constraint on iDevices (and others: I don't know where else the digital Movie Guide is available): is there in the future either integration of the Classic Guide material with the main app, or perhaps as a separate app?

  • dwj - Aust. | December 2, 2011 8:53 PMReply

    I have both purchased Classic Movie Guides - wouldn't be without it, invaluable.

  • Jenifer | December 2, 2011 6:29 PMReply

    Looking forward to this wonderful book. Thanks.

  • Kristine | December 2, 2011 3:59 PMReply

    Leonard, It's great you have a Classic Movie Guide. I have some news for you. Four great movie directors will be on stamps next year. They are John Huston, John Ford,Frank Capra, and Billy Wilder. Also, remember movie actress Dolores Hart ? She was in Loving You, King Creole with Elvis Presley, Where The Boys Are with Connie Francis. Some thought she would be another Grace Kelly. She gave up Hollywood to become a nun in 1963. She is Rev. Mother Dolores Hart and will speak at a Catholic Conference in Paso Robles, Calif. in Jaunuary. Also,
    late, great tenor Mario Lanza was her uncle.

  • Mark Polak | December 2, 2011 12:10 PMReply

    I love the classic movie guide, but I would love a web-based or app-based version even more. An electronic version can get regular updates, no movies have to be cut out due to size limitations, and the indexing and searching would be better. Plus I could carry it wherever I go!

  • Carlos Sandoval | December 2, 2011 12:07 PMReply

    Great! An excellent gift for the seasons...

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