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MEET MOVIE MIKE

America first encountered “Movie Mike” Clark as a 10-year-old film expert on the hugely popular TV quiz show The $64,000 Question. I met him when he was attending the NYU Graduate School of Cinema and we’ve been friends ever since. He and I bonded over our love for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and our unexplainable interest in the little-remembered Keefe Brasselle. I’ve always enjoyed Mike’s writing, through the many years he served as film and then video critic for USA Today. If you’re not reading his DVD and Blu-ray critiques in Home Media magazine online you’re missing out on some of the most entertaining and well-informed reviews on the Internet. He often makes me laugh out loud.

Mike with the late Zsa Zsa Gabor and quizmaster Hal March on The $64,000 Question

Mike’s knowledge is vast and I daresay incalculable. He’s followed the home video world since its inception and can compare variant releases of films on vhs, laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray. As a critic his strongest suit is the era of his moviegoing youth, the 1950s and 60s. That’s why his just-published review of the new DVD release Go, Johnny, Go! (1959) is so valuable.

How many other people who approach this rock ‘n’ roll artifact actually remember disc jockey Alan Freed or Jimmy Clanton, along with Chuck Berry and Ritchie Valens? Who else would know that this movie played in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio on a double-bill with Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space?

Anyone can review a film but few people can place films of this era into the context of popular culture quite like Mike. He is surely the only person who managed to mention New York Yankees star Roger Maris in his writeup of Marlon Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks (1961).

Mike is quite capable of discussing Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard but he shines in essays like this one about the MGM musical It’s Always Fair Weather (1955).

Mike Clark today, as enthusiastic as ever about movies

There isn’t enough time to read all the material that turns up online day after day, but I make time for Mike’s Home Media reviews. I urge you to do so, too.

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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