Menu

MOVIE BOOK ROUNDUP JULY 2020: MAX STEINER TO THE KEYSTONE COPS

  MUSIC BY MAX STEINER: THE EPIC LIFE OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL COMPOSER by Steven C. Smith (Oxford University Press) You don’t need to be musically educated to appreciate or enjoy this thorough, meticulously researched and entertaining biography. Smith, who wrote the definitive book on Bernard Herrmann (A Heart at Fire’s Center) many years ago, offers a sympathetic portrait of a man with enormous talent and all-too-human foibles. Steiner was the father of film music as we know it. History would have us believe that it was King Kong (1933) that persuaded Hollywood studios and producers of the value of a full orchestral score. Smith correctly identifies Symphony of Six Million and The Most Dangerous Game as just two of the many RKO features (produced by David O. Selznick in 1932)…

READ MORE >

THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS

With each passing year we see more documentaries about films and filmmakers. Some get only a passing nod while others are embraced by critics and buffs alike. In The Ghost of Peter Sellers, Hungarian-born filmmaker Peter Medak travels back 47 years to explore what went wrong with a seemingly sure-fire project proposed by Sellers. He and his Goon Show comrade Spike Milligan wrote a pirate comedy called Ghost in the Noonday Sun but the filming was an absolute disaster. Why would a man who has worked successfully in film and television all these years (with some great ones like The Ruling Class to his credit) choose to revisit the greatest nightmare of his career? It boils down to this: Ghost created a wound in Medak that has never healed. In spite of all…

READ MORE >

THE TRIP TO GREECE

If you’ve seen any or all of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s previous ventures (The Trip, The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain), you know what to expect from this latest venture from director Michael Winterbottom: an attractive travelogue punctuated by elegant meals and competitive monologues by the two funny, friendly rivals. I call them monologues because their speeches rarely involve each other: each performer takes his turn, interrupts the other, then declaims some more. Having drained the cup dry on Michael Caine impressions in their first film, they compete to see who can better imitate Mick Jagger, Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man or a number of British television hosts who are unknown to me. Brydon breaks me up as he repeatedly launches into Bee Gees…

READ MORE >

MILITARY WIVES

Military Wives is unapologetically corny and predictable…yet somehow it works. I tried to resist, but I love Kristin Scott Thomas and ultimately I surrendered to the movie. Although it is written by two women (Rachel Tunnard and Rosanne Flynne) it was directed by Peter Cattaneo, the man who made the quintessential underdog movie The Full Monty more than twenty years ago. Clearly he hasn’t forgotten the recipe that turned that modest film into a worldwide sensation. The final ingredient is the knowledge that the screenplay is derived from a true story—or rather, a compendium of true stories. Scott Thomas plays the wife of a commanding officer at a British military base. An educated, no-nonsense person, she takes it upon herself to organize activities for the women whose husbands…

READ MORE >

‘LOST’ BARBARA STANWYCK, GARY COOPER AND MORE ON DVD/BLU-RAY

  Barbara Stanwyck is one of those actresses who makes any film worth seeing. I don’t know anyone who disagrees, yet A Lost Lady (Warner Bros, 1934) is inexplicably overlooked. It’s not an important picture but I found it entirely satisfying. Stanwyck is in top form, and Frank Morgan is warmly effective as an older man who falls in love with her after tragedy turns her into a recluse. He woos and wins her but she is still vulnerable to the advances of Lyle Talbot and especially Ricardo Cortez. A Lost Lady is very loosely based on a novel by Willa Cather, who was reportedly so upset about this adaptation that she added language to her will forbidding further screen treatments. (Her book had been filmed more faithfully in…

READ MORE >

MALTIN MOVIE CLUB #4: THE MEDDLER

When I saw The Meddler on its theatrical release four years ago, I feared it would be a one-joke movie. The “joke” is that a widow (Susan Sarandon) moves from New Jersey to California to be near her daughter (Rose Byrne) and just won’t leave her alone. Cell phone calls, texts, and unannounced visits to her house—even barging in while her daughter is taking a shower—are an everyday occurrence. Fortunately, writer-director Lorene Scafaria (who scored with last year’s Hustlers) based this screenplay on her own real-life situation and refuses to reduce its subtleties and complications to the level of a routine sitcom episode. She also has the benefit of a highly skilled actress in the leading role and Sarandon makes the most of it, Jersey accent and all. The…

READ MORE >

MALTIN MOVIE CLUB #3: WONDER

There has never been a better time to recommend Wonder (2017). It’s a beautiful movie, and Stephen Chbosky was a perfect choice to direct and co-write it. The author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, who directed his own screen adaptation, isn’t afraid of honest emotion. What’s more, he is clearly in touch with his younger self. That alone would make him a candidate to translate R.J. Palacio’s best-selling young-adult novel to film. Wonder is a tearjerker that earns our tears by drawing us into its world and giving us a deep connection to its leading characters. Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) has had 27 operations by the time we meet him, at the age of 10. He suffers from craniofacial syndrome, which causes everyone who sees him to stare—in horror, disbelief,…

READ MORE >

Subscribe to our newsletter

MERCH

Maltin tee on TeePublic

PODCAST

Maltin on Movies podcast

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

Past podcasts

PATREON

Maltin On Movies Patreon

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

Leonard Maltin appearances and booking

CALENDAR

July 2020
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031