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Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965, Second Edition Paperback – January 27, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; 2 edition (January 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452295777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452295773
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Michael Click on February 6, 2010
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.
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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.
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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!
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