Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide
Cover of the 2010 edition
|Subject||Film reviews, synopses|
Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide is a book-format collection of movie capsule reviews that began in 1969 and has been updated yearly since 1978. It was originally called TV Movies, which became Leonard Maltin's TV Movies and Video Guide, which then became Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide before arriving at its current title. Leonard Maltin edits it and contributes a large portion of its reviews.
The book uses a star rating system. The lowest rating is "BOMB", followed by one and a half stars, rising in half-star increments to a maximum of four stars. The sole exception to this is Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, which was rated with two and one third stars out of four, referencing the film's title. Made-for-television films have also been also included in the guides, though in the early 2000s, Maltin gradually began to phase them out from future volumes to make room for current feature film releases, with no TV movies made after 2004 included in new editions. Maltin uses a different system for rating TV movies: "Below average", "Average" or "Above average", with select variants for highly rated films, including "Way above average" for The Day After and "Outstanding" for Minstrel Man. Certain theatrical-release films (usually low budget, obscure, foreign, concert, or serial films) have also been removed from the guide over time to include newer titles.
Another notable feature is that each review includes a reference to the source material for the film if it is based on previously published material. Films are listed alphabetically letter-by-letter, ignoring punctuation and spaces, while articles are also ignored and transposed to the end of the title.
The Guide is notable for containing what the Guinness Book of World Records calls the world's shortest movie review. His 2 out of 4 star review of the 1948 musical Isn't It Romantic? consists of the word "No". Another very short review concerns the film Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed where he writes, "It is what it is." Yet another is of Are Husbands Necessary? in which he writes "And what about this film?"
Along with typically listed worst pictures of all time, the hundreds of films Maltin has designated as a "BOMB" in his guide also include 3000 Miles to Graceland, 88 Minutes, American Gigolo, the Woody Allen-directed Anything Else, The Benchwarmers, Bobby Deerfield, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Captain Ron, Celtic Pride, The Dukes of Hazzard, Endless Love, Every Which Way but Loose, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Four Rooms, 2010's Gulliver's Travels, Mame, The Missouri Breaks, Popeye, Pret-a-Porter, 1998's remake of Psycho, 2007's remake of Sleuth, Valley of the Dolls and Your Highness.
High-school senior Leonard Maltin was a film fan and publisher of Fanzine Monthly. In spring 1968 a teacher introduced him to an editor at Signet Books, which wanted a competitor to Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV; impressed by Maltin's ideas for the book the editor hired him immediately, without telling others that he had hired a 17-year-old. The first edition of Maltin's book appeared in 1969; a second edition appeared five years later. After a third in 1978 new editions appeared every two years, and after 1986 every year. In 2005, logistical problems of a single book prompted him to launch a companion volume, Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide, restricted to films from 1960 and earlier, several of which no longer appear in the annual publication (some had been deleted over the years to make room for newer films, others removed at this point because the additional venue allowed it) and many others that never had. The latter category includes the "complete" (according to Maltin's introduction) Saturday matinee cowboy programmers of John Wayne, William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
The second edition of the Classic Movie Guide, published in 2010, moved the cut-off date to 1965. Besides Scheuer's Movies on TV, similar books include Halliwell's Film Guide, by Leslie Halliwell, and The Good Film and Video Guide, by David Shipman. Scheuer's guide was the first published, in 1958, preceding Maltin's by ten years, and the two were competing titles until the early 1990s. Scheuer's books had a similar format to Maltin's, except with more listings for made-for-television productions.
Maltin announced in August 2014 that the 2015 edition, to be published in September 2014, would be the last: "An entire generation has been raised to acquire all their information online from their mobile devices or computers. These are not the likely customers for a physical paperback reference book. Our sales have sharply declined in recent years".
The mobile application version of the guide was released, in 2009, to the App Store. However, the app was taken down in 2014 due to Penguin Publishing being unable to come to an agreement with Mobile Age, the creator of the app.
- Hammond, Pete (2014-08-19). "Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide Ending After 45 Years – Internet Kills Iconic Print Paperback". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- Maltin, Leonard (2005), p. 700. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. ISBN 0-451-21265-7. Signet Books. Accessed April 15, 2007.
- Rollins, Mark
- Bye, Bye, ‘Movie Guide’ App—For Now