Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Maltin's Movie Memories

"Leonard Maltin has a new book." That's probably as much review as Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom (GoodKnight Books) needs from the likes of me. But I can and will say a little more about this delightful collection of essays and interviews aimed squarely at the hearts of readers who love the movies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Here, Maltin goes back to the earliest days of his career, as a starstruck teenager interviewing his silver screen heroes for Film Fan Monthly. In those sessions, and even more so the later ones that follow, you sense the subjects' pleasure at being questioned by someone who knows their work inside and out. Director John Cromwell offers fascinating memories from his film Of Human Bondage, working with a young and hungry Bette Davis. But it's not only the giants and the masterpieces that merit space. I loved the interview with Paul Wurtzel, whose father Sol ran Fox's B movie factory in tbe 30s --and apparently worked himself into a frenzy doing it.

It's a safe bet that almost any reader can identify one or two favorite chapters here. I especially enjoyed "Act Three: Television," which examines how veteran performers like Buster Keaton and Lillian Gish extended their careers by embracing the new medium. Who'd've guessed that, of all people, Johnny Crawford, kid star of The Rifleman, was a silent movie buff thrilled to learn that crew members and actors from that era could often be found on his own set?

As I mentioned here before, I was pretty bummed when Maltin's annual movie guide ceased publication after so many years. I'm thrilled that he continues to share his knowledge through this irresistible new book.

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