We thought it might be fun to come up with a short gift-giving guide for your favorite cinephiles. Please remember to support small businesses today and every day. Hope you enjoy.
Amuse your friends and family—at a safe distance, or on Zoom—by donning this officially licensed Groucho face mask, for just $12. Or choose from a zillion other items made with love by a genuine fan, Mauricio Alvarado, creator of Rockin’ Pins. Whether it’s embroidered patches of the Popeye cast of characters (Wimpy, Olive Oyl, Bluto) or an elaborately designed Cab Calloway t-shirt, you’ll find all the coolest pop culture icons of the past and present at this site. Just a warning: Mauricio’s online catalog is positively addictive.
OFFICIAL BUSTER KEATON PORKPIE HAT
Yes, you can give that special person a present they will wear or display with pride: a porkpie hat just like the one Buster Keaton wore so memorably throughout his career. These hand-crafted hats are $85.00 and made to order so act now if you want to ensure delivery by a certain date. And while you’re at it, why not join the International Buster Keaton Society, aka The Damfinos? They offer other Keaton merchandise, from notecards to hoodies, and issue a wonderful periodical called The Keaton Chronicle.
THE WALT DISNEY FILM ARCHIVES (Taschen)
Taschen books tend to be expensive but you get a lot for your money, in sheer size and heft as well as content. Just in time for the holidays the publisher has produced a compact, abridged edition of its $200 coffee-table tome about Walt Disney’s animated films. It still has weight (literally and figuratively) and is beautifully produced but retails for $25.00. And if it doesn’t manage to cover all the films in detail, it still provides an overview of Walt Disney’s career, written by some of the world’s foremost Disney scholars, accompanied by stunning reproductions of animation artwork. [Full disclosure: I wrote the chapter about Song of the South].
ESSENTIAL FELLINI (Criterion Collection)
Being exposed to the work of Federico Fellini is a crucial step in the maturation of any film buff. Being able to watch fourteen of his feature-length films in chronological order is the kind of all-encompassing experience only the Criterion Collection could offer. What better way to spend the upcoming holiday season (or to avoid the pandemic blues)? Naturally there are a multitude of bonus features in this handsomely designed box. One of the highlights: watching Martin Scorsese speak so passionately (and extemporaneously) about La Strada. This set retails for $250 but you can easily find it for half that price online, and it’s worth every penny.
SCOUNDRELS AND SPITBALLERS (Dead Pool Productions)
Looking for a book to give a film-buff friend who seems to have every movie book in print already? Eddie Muller, the “Czar of Noir” and host of TCM’s Noir Alley, has created an imprint to enable English-speaking movie nuts to read this valuable French-language volume from 1996. Author Philippe Garnier interviewed neglected screenwriters of Hollywood’s golden age, and it’s a treat to dive into this cynical, colorful world. He also profiles the eccentric booksellers who catered to the literati crowd. (You’ll even learn the origin of Larry Edmunds Bookshop.) It’s rare to find a book brimming with fresh anecdotes and provocative prose; this is juicy stuff.
KING OF MOVIES: THE LEONARD MALTIN GAME (Mondo)
Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging a board game that features my name and image… because I had nothing to do with creating the game itself and I’ve heard from people who enjoy playing it. This is not a trivia contest, although some basic knowledge is helpful. Its creator, Ant Timpson, grew up on my annual Movie Guide and enjoyed imitating the familiar style of my capsule reviews. That’s the object: select one of the game cards with a writeup of a little-known film and try to bluff your fellow players into believing it’s authentic. Even younger players who grew up in the Age of the Internet seem to catch on, assimilating the telegraphic style of the Guide as they describe movies they’ve never heard of. The folks at Mondo have had fun designing 300 cards (with 600 reviews), player sleeves and tokens, score tokens and an official Maltin King of Movies Crown. There’s also a booklet with rules and variations you can follow, an essay on the origins of the game and a flattering essay about me by Zack Carlson. You can even organize competitions using Zoom!
If you know someone who loves—and I mean, loves—classic comedy, consider signing them up for a subscription to this brand-new online magazine. It’s filled with articles by experts on Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Groucho Marx, to drop just a few names. It’s also beautifully designed and bursting with rare photographs and memorabilia. You can download the first issue absolutely free at https://archive.org/details/ComiqueMagazine1 or you can send the link to a friend or loved one and make a voluntary donation to support its continuation via PayPal at BrittanyJane99@hotmail.com.
Fliptomania has a wide variety of flipbooks, which are great fun for kids and grownups alike. If a young person you know has never seen the original 1933 King Kong, here’s a way to explain how the creature was brought to life, manipulating a sculpted figure one frame at a time—long before CGI came along. Or you can just admire the pantomime and balletic grace of Charlie Chaplin. The more ambitious among you might even try creating your own flipbooks.
Pins, T-Shirts and more from Kate Gabrielle
I can always recommend the wonderful https://kategabrielle.com. So much fun stuff and it’s guaranteed to attract the right kind of crowd.