The third edition of Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide drops tomorrow (September 29, 2015). Updated for the first time since 2010, and presented by Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the Guide covers films “From the Silent Era through 1965.” There’s more than 200 new entries — some of which are running on TCM tonight, including our TCM Party at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Why Be Good? (Maltin gives it 3 stars out of 4, in case you were wondering.)
The bulk of the book is capsule reviews, each of which includes the film’s year of release, running time, rating, director, major cast, and symbols indicating what formats are available. It’s fairly comprehensive, with more than 10,000 entries. Although it’s light on films before 1920, there’s plenty in here that I’ve never heard of. The “Index of Stars” at the end of the book is a partial listing of selected actors’ filmographies and is handy for recalling the name of a movie when you can only remember who starred in it.
Most of the movies in the guide are rated 1-4 stars. One of the fun things is leafing through and reading about the really bad ones, denoted “BOMB.” I wish there was a list of all of these somewhere in the book, they make extremely amusing reading.
A similar publication, Halliwell’s Film Guide, was definitely an influence on me in my formative movie-viewing years but Maltin has a better sense of humor and is less condescending about “bad” movies, and movies in general. In short, this book is a lot of fun. My one slight quibble is that the text seems crammed…it could have used a little more leading (spacing between the lines). There are of course sites like IMDB that offer greater depth of information, but for essential quick reference and the sheer joy of discovering new films, you could do a lot worse than Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide. And you don’t need electricity to operate it.
3.5 out of 4 stars 😉