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New Life for My Film Books

Harvey Korman, Lucille Ball Buster Keaton         The books I’ve
written over the years have had long lives, I’m happy to say, but some of them
have been out-of-print for a while. Now they’re back as e-books and print-on-demand volumes
thanks to Amazon Kindle. The earliest title is Selected Short Subjects, originally published in 1971 as The Great Movie Shorts. Then there’s The Real Stars, a collection of profiles
and interviews with character actors…a revised version of The Great Movie Comedians: From Charlie Chaplin to Woody Allen…and
Don Miller’s incomparable “B” Movies,
which I originally edited for the Curtis Books film series.

Selected Short Subjects-300

         Selected Short Subjects was the
first—and I believe remains the only—broad-based survey of shorts from the
talkie era, with individual chapters on Our
Gang,
Laurel & Hardy, The
Three Stooges, Robert Benchley, Pete
Smith Specialties, John Nesbitt’s Passing Parade,
Edgar Kennedy, Leon
Errol, Crime Does Not Pay, Harry
Langdon, The Boy Friends, Thelma Todd
and ZaSu Pitts, Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly, Andy Clyde, W.C. Fields, Screen Snapshots, and Joe McDoakes…with shorter summaries of The Voice of Hollywood, Mickey McGuire, Hollywood on Parade, The Taxi Boys, The
Masquers Club, The Blondes and the Redheads
, Clark and McCullough, Easy Aces, The Glove Slingers, Hugh
Herbert, El Brendel, Vera Vague, The
Newlyweds
, and Gil Lamb. There are also summaries of all the studios that
produced shorts during this period. I’ve beefed up the filmographies with
longer cast lists than I had access to in 1972….and I’ve added a new
introduction that tells how I came to write the book in the first place. The
original preface was penned by MGM’s short subject impresario Pete Smith. I was
fortunate enough to interview him and many other people who made the films I
discuss. This book is especially close to me, as it was a true labor of love.

Great Movie Comedians-300

         The Great Movie Comedians was an
outgrowth of an eight-month series I programmed at the Museum of Modern Art in
New York celebrating American comedy during our nation’s Bicentennial. Most of
the book is unchanged since its 1978 publication, but I have rewritten the
chapters on Jerry Lewis and Woody Allen and added postscripts to the essay on
Bob Hope and Red Skelton, who passed away after the book came out. As before,
each chapter includes rare photos and a complete filmography. The subjects:
Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Fatty Arbuckle,
Harry Langdon, Charley Chase, Raymond Griffith, Marie Dressler, Will Rogers,
Laurel and Hardy, Joe E. Brown, The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Mae West, The
Three Stooges, Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Red Skelton, Jerry
Lewis, and Woody Allen. For this book I was lucky enough to interview a number
of writers and directors who had fascinating insights about the comedy stars I
chose to profile.

The Real Stars-300

         The Real Stars is a collection of pieces
from my magazine Film Fan Monthly,
spotlighting the supporting players who made movies of the 1930s and ‘40s so
enjoyable: Edgar Kennedy, Billy Gilbert, Patsy Kelly, Gale Sondergaard, Grady
Sutton, Bess Flowers, Edgar Buchanan, Blanche Yurka, Sara Allgood, Joyce
Compton, Hans Conried, Gladys George, Dorothy Granger, Rex Ingram, Rosalind
Ivan, Una Merkel, Mabel Paige, and Hope Summers. I love these people and if you
do, too, I think you’ll have fun reading about them, and in many cases sharing
their first-hand recollections.

B Movies-300

         Finally, I was
proud to publish Don Miller’s incredible book B” Movies, which has been unavailable for far too long. (I wrote a
foreword for its reissue in the 1980s, but even that went out of print.) Don
had a photographic memory of every movie he’d ever seen, going back decades,
and he understood the larger picture of how the major studios and Poverty Row
factories approached these films that were meant to be the “bottom half” of a
double-bill. No one else has ever equaled Don’s achievement.

         Each of these
books is now available as a low-priced e-book, which means the texts are
completely searchable. They are also available as paperback books, sized 6" by
9" although these editions don’t have indexes. For more information, click
HERE.

         I can’t tell
you what satisfaction it gives me—as it would any author—to see my babies given
a new lease on life.

9 comments

  1. Kevin S.Butler says:

    I’m glad that three of your books:"Selected Short Subjects","The Reel Stars" and "The Great Movie Comedians"are back in print..Len..I’m going to try and get copies of your books.

  2. Lee Davis says:

    I practically memorized The Great Movie Shorts when I was in college and have only in recent years been able to view — and own — collections of these timeless films. So glad the original text will be available again!

  3. Constantine Santas says:

    Great ! Will look them up!

  4. JEANNE WOLF says:

    Leonard’s love and extreme knowledge and connection with film gives a special insight to his writing. Good news that we can find these books.

  5. J.H. Koonce says:

    This is wonderful news! My paperback copy of Don Miller’s B Movies is coming apart. Very thankful that you encouraged Mr. Miller to write this book.

  6. JLewis says:

    Hard to believe you were barely over twenty when you worked on "Selected Short Subjects". Back then, many of those titles could be found on 16mm or still showing in theaters as reissues. Heck, some studios like Universal were still distributing shorts in the early seventies. These days it is a struggle just finding information on short films online (although some of us have tried hard to remedy the situation).

  7. Stephen Michael Shearer says:

    Leonard Maltin’s books have been a deeply personal and inspirational source of inspiration to my career, beginning with his very first TV MOVIES in 1969 and his publication FILM FAN MONTHLY. Leonard’s work is always fascinating, in-depth, concise and completely researched…and these books are but a few of his which have truly inspired and encouraged film scholars for decades. Thank you Leonard for letting us know they are still yet available. There will be many more generations of future film historians who will also now benefit and feel the urge and need to document somewhat debatably America’s one true art form – the motion picture. Great news…..

  8. RAFAEL CASTRO says:

    With all this new digital channels in the market, the film buff have more oportunities to find many hidden gems that are not in the DVD market right now. all this books will be of great importance for all the film programmers of this channels

  9. Carol Hughes says:

    Can I buy the paperback of B Movies? Only saw the kindle on Amazon.

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