Menu

NEW AND NOTABLE FILM BOOKS December 2019

There’s never enough time to read, so please consider this a survey rather than a series of reviews. I’ve only included books that interest or intrigue me.

 

9781101874066_p0_v2_s600x595.jpg

 

THE MOVIE MUSICAL! by Jeanine Basinger (Knopf)

In addition to teaching several generations of filmmakers at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Basinger has written a handful of essential books on classic Hollywood including The Star Machine, Silent Stars, and A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960. Her latest is an expansive (634-page) treatise on musicals: a heady mixture of history, personal experience, and pointed opinions. This is the book I most look forward to reading cover-to-cover over the holidays, and I know I won’t be disappointed.

 

 

9780190636265.jpeg

 

THE GROVE MUSIC GUIDE TO AMERICAN FILM MUSIC Edited by Daniel Goldmark (Oxford University Press)

Anyone foolish enough to believe that reference books have been supplanted by the Internet should browse this indispensable volume and tell me where one could find its equal online. Goldmark established his bona fides years ago in this field, and is the perfect person to have edited this dictionary of film and television composers. For each entry there is a biographical essay by a film music expert, a filmography (some complete, and often including radio, television and concert works), as well as a bibliography. I’m sure I will be consulting this often in years to come.

 

 

564983122

 

PRESTON STURGES: THE LAST YEARS OF HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST WRITER-DIRECTOR by Nick Smedley and Tom Sturges; foreword by Peter Bogdanovich (Intellect)

Other books on the great writer-director Preston Sturges have tended to dismiss his frustrating final years. This one, co-written by his son, emphasizes that part of his life, drawing largely on correspondence between the filmmaker and his last wife Sandy (who kept carbon copies of everything she wrote). Tom Sturges says the manuscript “revealed to me a man I never knew and practically had never met.”

 

9780813178097_p0_v2_s600x595.jpg

 

FILM’S FIRST FAMILY: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE COSTELLOS by Terry Shulman (University Press of Kentucky)

Maurice Costello was one of the first true movie stars, but if he is remembered today it is primarily because his daughter Dolores married John Barrymore, merging two American acting dynasties. Author Shulman had access to Costello family archives and interviewed Dolores Barrymore Bedell (the daughter of John Barrymore and Dolores Costello) and Helene Costello’s daughter Deirdre to research this sweeping story. Even a quick appraisal of his text reveals enough juicy material to have filled several volumes.

 

 

1484743377.jpg

 

WALT DISNEY’S ULTIMATE INVENTOR: THE GENIUS OF UB IWERKS by Don Iwerks; foreword by Leonard Maltin (Disney Editions)

I am proud to have contributed a foreword to this invaluable history of Ub Iwerks’s career written by his son. (It is also an uncommonly handsome volume.) Don Iwerks followed in his father’s footsteps developing systems and techniques for visual effects and earned an Oscar of his own in 1997; two years later he was named a Disney Legend. He describes his father’s many inventions and innovations in detail but what I value most about this book is his description of Ub’s unique relationship with Walt Disney.

 

9780762496051.jpg

 

ROTTEN MOVIES WE LOVE: CULT CLASSICS, UNDERRATED GEMS, AND FLMS SO BAD THEY’RE GOOD by the editors of Rotten Tomatoes; foreword by Paul Feig (Running Press)

This highly browsable collection of essays covers a wide swath of films from Willlow to The Cable Guy. The only thing they have in common is that they failed to score with critics…yet each title has at least one champion. I am pleased to have contributed a piece about my longtime favorite so-bad-it’s-good movie, Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Other contributors include Jen Yamato, April Wolfe, Eric Kohn, Amy Nicholson, and David Stratton.

 

9781629334943_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg

 

RONDO HATTON: BEAUTY WITHIN THE BRUTE by Scott Gallinghouse with Tom Weaver, Dr. Robert J. Kiss, George Chastain, and David Colton; afterword by Drew Friedman (BearManor Media)

Anyone who has ever been fascinated by Rondo Hatton, whose distorted features made him a unique movie presence in the 1940s, should consider this a must. Essays by experts in the horror-film arena explore every possible aspect of the actor’s life and career, including his posthumous fan base. Liberally illustrated, it also features an afterword and cover portrait by the great Drew Friedman.

 

51JzTcYm9jL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

MISS D & ME: LIFE WITH THE INVINCIBLE BETTE DAVIS by Kathryn Sermak with Danielle Morton (Hachette)

For the last ten years of Bette Davis’s life, she and Kathryn Sermak were inseparable. As her assistant and, over time, her confidante, Sermak got to know the formidable actress as well as anyone could. This is her story, a portrait of Davis’ final act told from a unique vantage point.

 

47937037.jpg

 

PECKINPAH: A PORTRAIT IN MONTAGE—THE DEFINITIVE EDITION by Garner Simmons (Equuleus)

The latest update of Garner Simmons’ excellent 1982 book is subtitled “50 Years After ‘The Wild Bunch’ from the Writer Who Knew Him Best” and that is no exaggeration. Simmons has chronicled the maverick director’s life and work for decades and speaks with authority when he discusses any of Peckinpah’s films or his famously erratic behavior. This compilation of articles and essays incorporates the kind of perspective that only time can provide.

 

9781629334967_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg

 

THE IMPERFECT STORM: FROM HENRY STREET TO HOLLYWOOD by Howard Storm & Steve Stoliar; introduction by Dick Cavett (BearManor Media)

This colorful show-business memoir chronicles the life and career of a New York street kid turned standup comic who wound up being one of the most successful comedy directors in television history. From the Catskill Mountains to the nightclub circuit, Storm has a limitless supply of anecdotes and observations about everyone from Woody Allen to Robin Williams.

 

 

9781642933024_p0_v2_s600x595.jpg

 

MAGIC TIME: MY LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD by Hawk Koch with Molly Jordan (PostHill Press)

Hawk Koch is the son of famous producer Howard W. Koch. He grew up in his father’s shadow, even as he made such successful films as Heaven Can Wait, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and Wayne’s World and worked as assistant director on Chinatown and The Way We Were, among many others.  How he built his own reputation and became President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the through-line of this highly anecdotal book, praised by such colleagues as Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.

 

9781641602174_p0_v3_s550x406.jpg

 

THE SHOW WON’T GO ON: THE MOST SHOCKING, BIZARRE, AND HISTORIC DEATHS OF PERFORMERS ONSTAGE by Jeff Abraham and Burt Kearns (Chicago Review Press)

Abraham and Kearns surely aren’t the only show-biz aficionados who have harbored a keen interest in the stories of entertainers who actually died in front of an audience… but they’re the only ones who have had the gumption to research every urban legend surrounding this topic and separate fact from fiction.

 

 

RB_Cover-600x600.jpg

 

RICK BAKER: METAMORPHOSIS by J.W. Rinzler; foreword by John Landis, preface by Peter Jackson, introduction by Rick Baker. (Cameron & Co.)

This massive two-volume tribute to seven-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker is a definitive study of his life and career in the world of makeup. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced in a slipcase edition, its quality and thoroughness justify its hefty price. Every page offers wonders and delights, including young Rick’s first correspondence with his hero, makeup genius Dick Smith, and his earliest experiments.

Finally, what kind of author would I be if I didn’t plug my own current titles?

 

9780998376394_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg

 

HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD: DISCOVERIES FROM A LIFETIME OF FILM FANDOM (GoodKnight Books)

This labor of love compiles articles and interviews spanning fifty (!) years, and drawn from my two longtime publications: Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy. You’ll read conversations with Anita Loos, Burgess Meredith, Joan Blondell, Madge Evans and George O’Brien as well as articles I’ve written and researched about all the music in Casablanca, the genesis of Busby Berkeley’s “Remember My Forgotten Man,” the forgotten films of RKO Radio Pictures and much, much more, illustrated with scores of rare photos.

 

9780147516824_p0_v3_s600x595.jpg

 

TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES PRESENTS: LEONARD MALTIN’S CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE, 3RD EDITION (Plume)

From the silent era to 1965, this hefty paperback includes capsule reviews of (and essential information about) 10,000 films, including hundreds never covered before in my annual Movie Guide. If you or someone you love enjoys watching vintage movies on TCM, this fingertip guide should come in handy.

The next installment of this survey will examine a number of Disney- (and Disneyland-) related books.

Avatar
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]

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

October 2020
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031