If you want to make Leonard Maltin mad, accuse him and his team of simply revising Maltin’s yearly movie guide. “I get a little peeved when people say, ‘Oh, you just update it every year,’” he said of his newest guide, “Leonard Maltin’s 2012 Movie Guide.” The guide, Maltin said, is tediously updated each year with new, pertinent information on nearly 17,000 films, including alternate versions of certain films on DVD, updated cast lists (especially if a cast member in a film becomes a breakout star later on). “It’s a non-stop job,” he said. “It’s a great job, we all love doing it.” Even with the “find-anything” culture the internet has developed, the book is still seen as the most invaluable resource for movie-lovers. “Many young people think you can get everything for free on the internet,” said Maltin. “We try to offer something you can’t.”
The passion that drives Maltin and his editors to create the new movie guides each year is the same passion Maltin looks for in films, a medium he’s been entranced by since he was a kid. “I’m part of the first TV generation,” he said. “TV was a living museum of movies. Old cartoons, old comedy shorts–that’s what attracted me the most.” Another attraction–the weekly Walt Disney anthology series. “He would show how his movies were made, and that just whetted my appetite to learn more.”
In the new movie guide, he has a list of the films he deems to be the best of the new millennium. “One of the things I look for in a film is originality,” he said when describing how he made the list. “[It]‘s not a carbon copy of something we’ve seen over and over again. The stories are told with passion. Often, the stories I like have been written by the directors. That makes me think, “Wow, they really wanted to tell this story.”
Maltin also said he looks for something fresh storytelling. “My family and I went nuts for ‘Tangled’ last year and we all felt the same way about ‘Arthur Christmas’,” he said. “You couldn’t call them original–the stories they tell are stories we familiar with–but they do it with such verve, enthusiasm, and with such a sense of humor.”
For those who are somehow new to the world of cinema, Maltin recommends starting with a classic Charlie Chaplin silent film. “So much starts with Charlie Chaplin,” he said. “You don’t to be able to read English to enjoy him since it’s a silent film. The movies are for any age, and are popular in virtually every country on the planet. Virtually anybody can relate to him because he plays an everyman.”
Maltin’s love for movies and his movie guide is the driving force behind his successful career, even though he never imagined the life he would lead. “I never dreamt when I was 17 years old, that Signet Books in New York would ask if I’d be interested in compiling a movie guide…and I’d still be doing it and that it would still engage me so thoroughly, and that we’d still have a loyal readership even in the internet age.”
You can buy “Leonard Maltin’s 2012 Movie Guide,” priced at $10, in bookstores now.