LEONARD MALTIN’S 2015 MOVIE GUIDE edited by LEONARD MALTIN (2014, Signet, Paperback, 1612pp) ∗∗∗∗∗
Every September I look forward to receiving the latest edition of Leonard Maltin’s annual Movie Guide. Sure enough the 2015 edition thumped to the floor through my postbox this morning – actually it was hand delivered because it wouldn’t go through, which is a symptom of how its coverage has grown over the years.
The first page I always turn to is Maltin’s Introduction as it normally contains some interesting thoughts on developments in the movie and home entertainment world. But this year’s introduction started with the following sentence:
“This is the final edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.”
I must own around twenty film guides – most of which were on an annual release for a good period of time and each of which has their pros and cons. The internet has dealt a slow death to these guides with in recent years with Halliwell’s, Time Out, Virgin (TV Guide), Martin/Porter’s Video & DVD Guide all being discontinued. That left Radio Times, Maltin and Videohound as the three main sources with the breadth of coverage I look for. Maltin’s Guide was the longest standing of these, having debuted in 1969 as a competitor to Stephen H Scheuer’s Movies on TV, which disappeared in 1993. Maltin’s approach of using brief, user-friendly, capsule reviews meant the book could retain its handy size and also gave the reader a concise appraisals without the need for the lengthy analysis of works such as TV Guide’s, which covered about a sixth of the volume of titles. As such Maltin’s guide was the one I turned to most for a quick answer to question “Is it worth watching?” when considering that old 1942 western being shown on TCM.
I don’t always agree with Maltin and his team’s appraisals – he has stubbornly refused to re-assess Blade Runner for instance, which in my view is a landmark movie but Maltin finds it to have a “muddled script and main characters with no appeal whatsoever.” and awards the film one-and-a-half stars out of four. He did recently revisit Alien, however. But the vast majority of the time I agree with his assessments.
I will sadly miss this Guide, which I have been buying annually since the 1970s. It has a personality and a consistency that you can only get from a publication which is put together with such loving care as this.
Thanks Leonard Maltin for fuelling my enthusiasm for the movies in the 70s and for being a constant companion at them ever since.