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It’s Book Time Again

by Leonard Maltin
September 10, 2013 2:06 AM
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Leonard Maltin Annual Movie Guide-290

Some people are amazed that I am still editing an annual movie reference guide, and I am one of them. But it’s true: Leonard Maltin’s 2014 Movie Guide: The Modern Era is now available from booksellers everywhere, in two editions, a mass-market paperback from Signet and a large-format version from Plume. Sharp-eyed customers will notice that they have different colored covers, but they are otherwise identical.

Almost everyone uses the Internet for information nowadays, and I am no exception, yet in researching this annual guide (with my loyal colleagues) I find it just as hard as ever to ascertain basic facts about even the newest releases. Variations in actors’ names, billing order, running time, and plot points continue to plague us all year long. That’s why we take a certain pride in the finished product: what we offer is “curated information” which we hope is user-friendly. The advantage we have today that wasn’t afforded us years ago is that we can check a copy of the film itself, fairly soon after it debuts in theaters.

For the second year, we have adopted a subtitle, The Modern Era, to notify longtime users that many older titles have migrated to our companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide. Some readers still haven’t gotten this message, which is why we include random cross-references to that spinoff volume throughout the Annual. Even a 1,600-page paperback can’t contain 100 years of movie reviews.

On the other hand, we’re entitled to have some fun. That’s why I asked one of our editors, Michael Scheinfeld, to add something new to this year’s edition: a healthy sampling of so-called spaghetti Westerns, those Italian “oaters” that redefined the Western in the 1960s and early 70s. Savvy revival theaters have featured tributes to these unique genre titles in recent years, and that was our cue to respond, even though many of them are not readily available in the U.S. (If you have an all-region DVD or Blu-ray player you may have better luck. We only indicate those which are legally available from U.S. distributors, and we’ve calculated their running times based on America’s NTSC format, not PAL, which runs at a higher frame rate.) And just to keep things from getting dull, many of the actors and directors in these movies used Americanized pseudonyms, so it’s not uncommon to find their names being spelled differently from film to film in the onscreen credits and movie posters. We’ve done our best to select the most common spellings.

As always, we’ve combed existing reviews to add early screen credits for such now-familiar actors as Tom Hardy, Octavia Spencer, John Hawkes, Jacki Weaver, and Chloë Grace Moretz. It’s always fun to look back to the not-so-distant past and spot people who have found their place in the spotlight.

We’re already hard at work on next year’s edition. There are just enough people who still like the idea of a reference guide sitting on their coffee table or nightstand to keep us in business, and for that my cohorts and I are extremely grateful.




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  • James Leonard | September 13, 2013 4:58 PMReply

    I am trying to find an old movie with Dana Andrews It is about U-Boats being re-supplied with new torpedoes from a ship disguised as an old cargo vessel. Takes place in Newfoundland I think and the second word in the title is "cargo"

  • mike schlesinger | September 18, 2013 6:25 PM

    That would be SEALED CARGO (RKO, 1951).

  • Jim | September 12, 2013 11:38 AMReply

    Just got the guide and read all 300-odd reviews (by going through the entire year in retrospect). No great shakes this time around, but I found the spaghetti western reviews to be rather questionable. As a devout fan of the genre, even I felt that his reviews were far to praise-worthy for some of the films. He gave The Great Silence ***1/2, which I agree with, but he also raised his review for the God awful Burt Reynolds western Navajo Joe from *1/2 to ***. His four star review for Skyfall was also questionable, considering that film's silly 'Home Alone' style ending. Anyway, its a book like no other, so buy it if you haven't already!

  • Jeff | September 11, 2013 2:41 PMReply

    I remember an early edition, circa mid 70's, which flatly stated that "Gone With The Wind" has never been shown on TV and probably never would.

    Of course, TCM was born and all bets were off.

  • mike schlesinger | September 11, 2013 11:34 PM

    Actually, it first aired on NBC in 1976.

  • Steve Chaput | September 11, 2013 1:52 PMReply

    I have to confess that I don't buy the book annually, but usually every two-three years. My wife and I find it essential for older films and looking up actors we spot. Sites like are great, but nothing beats leafing through one of your volumes which I keep near my recliner.

  • RUF | September 11, 2013 2:08 AMReply

    Still essential after all these years. If I kept all the old copies I'd need a bigger boat.
    And just a word to remember the pioneer of this genre of books, Stephen K. Schuer. Without him who knows?
    So Leonard Maltin keep up the great tradition.

  • dwj | September 10, 2013 11:24 PMReply

    Thanks again Leonard - already got mine coming - lost without it.

  • John | September 10, 2013 7:43 PMReply

    We watch a movie DVR'd off of one of the many satellite movie channels (TCM our fave of course!) or Netflix almost every night and Leonard's books are our gospel for the ones we choose. The dog eared copies of the 2013 version of Movie Guide and the Classic Movie Guide get more use than any other book in the house. I can't say I agree with Leonard 100 per cent of the time but for the great majority of time time (for our tastes anyway) he is spot on. He's steered us to many a gem and helped us save thousands of wasted hours of our life by helping us avoid the dreaded "bombs" or anything close to that status. My rule of thumb is if Leonard gives it 2 1/2 stars it is usually worth a look, 3 stars or more definitely so. You da' man Leonard!

  • Hal | September 10, 2013 5:46 PMReply

    Re. "For the second year, we have adopted a subtitle, The Modern Era, to notify longtime users that many older titles have migrated to our companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide."

    Does that mean there's a new edition of the Classic Movie Guide out now, too?

  • clu | September 10, 2013 5:32 PMReply

    Great book. I've been purchasing Leonard's movie guide annually since 1986. The reviews are concise and for the most part bang on. My only wish is that Leonard would dedicate a page to the movies he's added every year to the new edition. Leonard claims he adds roughly 300 movies a year. I have to reference the internet and then reference his book. Not a super big deal. Also, I'm always looking for the movies that he gives 4 stars too. This year Skyfall (didn't see that one coming) and Life of Pi has been given Leonard's highest marks. Did anyone notice any other movies that received 4 stars?

  • Stephen Michael Shearer | September 10, 2013 4:17 PMReply

    Congratulations Leonard,

    I have been buying your MOVIE GUIDE since 1969 (small black cover, if I remember right), and every year there is something even more fascinating to read!

    A "must-have" item to place beside one's television...and just plain fun to read!

  • Norm | September 10, 2013 4:03 PMReply

    needs more pictures...

  • Blaine | September 10, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    I was always surprised that as one of the most common films of the rep circuit, Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill never made the book.

  • Jim Reinecke | September 10, 2013 11:39 AMReply

    It's been sitting right next to my TV (joined, in recent years, by the Classic Movie Guide) since the days of the Nixon administration, Leonard! My address may have changed a few times since those hallowed, halcyon days of the '70's but my fondness for your guide remains intact. And, of course, it wouldn't be me without a title tweak or two, would it? At least one brand new entry needs a title revision and that would be CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER, which uses the ampersand in place of the word "and". This is also true of the existing entry LOVE & OTHER DRUGS. I may have been a little too close to deadline time with my updates for SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM (no punctuation) and TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL (no period after VS) so I'll just include those as a reminder for next year. Also, one minor quibble: Although Paramount's BIG BROADCAST series of the thirties and MGM's BROADWAY MELODY films from '29 through '40 are now the sole property of the Classic Guide, I notice that you've kept Warners GOLD DIGGERS series in the annual volume. However, you still continue to use the old entry for GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 (which, Warner Brothers golden era fan that I am, I still consider the studio's worst musical of the thirties---with the possible exception of FLIRTATION WALK!) which overrates it with a **1/2 rating, but the Classic Guide has a more accurate and updated review which rightly brings it down to *1/2. I know that you once stated that there was no intention to have separate reviews in the Annual and Classic guides for films that overlap, so I was curious about the discrepancy. Oh, and thanks for including SARAH'S KEY in this year's edition---but where, oh where, is LITTLE RED WAGON, a delightful film from the past year that I became aware of simply because of your glowing review right here at this website? But, as always, a great job by you and your colleagues. As long as you keep publishing your guides, you'll always have a loyal fan in me!

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