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Classic Movies—and Me—On TCM

I’m happy to be back on Turner Classic Movies this Monday, hosting an evening of rare films with Ben Mankiewicz beginning at 8pm EST/5pm PST. The lineup consists of titles I’ve just added to the 3rd edition of my Classic Movie Guide, which comes out Tuesday and bears the official title TCM presents Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide. (More about that later.) Ben and I introduce the first four films on the calendar; three more follow, into the wee hours of the morning.

I wouldn’t necessarily rate these films as bona fide classics, but they are all interesting and worth seeing, for a variety of reasons. Several are making their TCM debuts.
Colleen Moore-Why Be GoodWhy Be Good? (1928) lay dormant, unseen for more than eighty years, until a tip from film historian Joe Yranski led Warner Bros. to a 35mm copy in Italy, while Ron Hutchinson and the Vitaphone Project provided the original soundtrack discs for a full restoration by Warner Bros. It’s one of Colleen Moore’s most provocative films, as Carey Wilson’s screenplay explores that 1920s prototype the flapper—in this case, a party girl who’s also a “good” girl.
Among the Missing (1934) was recently resurrected by the folks at Sony and while it’s a simple, straightforward programmer from Columbia Pictures, it’s marked by interesting location work in Los Angeles and unusually creative camerawork (by Joseph August). Stage actress Henrietta Crosman brings sincerity to her leading role as an older woman who falls in with a gang of crooks. I wrote about this film in an earlier column which you can read HERE.

Stolen Identity (1953) is an interesting little thriller filmed on the same darkened streets of Vienna where The Third Man was shot just four years earlier. Francis Lederer heads the cast in the only film produced by actor Turhan Bey.
Five and TenFive and Ten (1931) is a Marion Davies Production costarring young Leslie Howard in a romantic drama adapted from a novel by the queen of soap opera authors, Fannie Hurst (Imitation of Life, Back Street). It also features a fine, understated performance by the great stage actor Richard Bennett—father of Constance and Joan.

The three films that follow are A Very Honorable Guy (1934), a Damon Runyon story starring Joe E. Brown, Three Faces East (1930), a sophisticated spy yarn with Constance Bennett and a suave Erich von Stroheim, and Reducing (1931), an entertaining slapstick comedy starring the popular duo of Marie Dressler and Polly Moran.

These are among the more than 300 titles we’ve added to this edition of the Classic Movie Guide. How can there be “new” old movies worth including? I’ll tackle that subject in my next column.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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