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Movie Guide Memories

Movie Guide Memories

As some of you may know by now, the 2015 edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which comes
out today, will be the last, after an amazing 45-year run. (I hasten to add
that we are happily working on a new edition of our spinoff volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide,
for next year.) Since the news broke online I’ve received a tremendous
outpouring of affection for the book and the memories it spurs for people who
grew up with it. Many readers have said they can’t remember a time when there
wasn’t a copy on their coffee table, nightstand, or even in their bathroom!

You can only imagine what the book has meant to me. I was 17
years old when the job fell in my lap; little did I dream that it would occupy
my entire adult life. An English teacher at my high school insisted that I meet
her friend Patrick O’Connor, an editor at Signet Books. Because he liked my publication,
Film Fan Monthly, and took a shine to
me, he decided that I was the right person to carry out his goal: to produce a book
that would rival Stephen H. Scheuer’s paperback Movies on TV. At that time it was the only book of its kind, a fingertip
reference for people who watched old movies on television.

Patrick told me I would have to hire people to help me, and
he was right. The book has always been a team effort, and in those days before
the Internet, cable TV, or home video, we had our work cut out for us. Finding
accurate information about movies—new or old—was no easy task.

When the book came out, under the title TV Movies, in 1969, all I could see were its flaws and
shortcomings. It was five years before I was asked to update it, and I seized
the opportunity to improve on what we’d done the first time around. Readers
started sending corrections and additions, which I eagerly incorporated into
the expanded paperback.

This was long before personal computers came along, and we
did everything by hand. My wife and I cut out every one of the 8,000 reviews in
the first book and glued them onto individual sheets of paper. (I remember
Alice repeatedly running out to Woolworth’s on Broadway and 79th
Street to buy more glue sticks—we kept using them up.) Then I used a ball-point
pen to mark additions and changes in the margins, adding an actor’s name,
correcting a spelling, changing a running time, etc. Believe it or not, we
never completely abandoned this technique: it may seem primitive but it’s
simple and effective.

In those days before videocassettes and DVDs, I tried to
develop contacts at each of the studios who understood my need for detailed
information—not merely what was printed in the press handouts. I developed a
network of contacts, sometimes a publicist, other times a person in the print
traffic department. One time I asked a man at United Artists how he determined
the running time of the titles in their library and he said, “Uh…we use your
book.” It was flattering—but not useful.

Because the book was originally aimed at people who watched
movies on local TV (The Early Show, The
Late Show, Million Dollar Movie
, et al.) I never expected it to become an
industry resource. Programmers at repertory cinemas, TV syndicators (and their
buyers at local stations), and innumerable others told me they relied on the
Guide. Years later, it became a staple at video stores. Ordinary folks who
stopped me on the street would sometimes tell me they ignored our opinions and
only consulted the information; that was fine with me. Within the span of one
week, a guy told me he doubled our ratings to conform to his opinion—and
another person said he cut our ratings in half to determine if he’d like a
particular movie. To each his own.

One day, my publicist at Penguin returned from lunch to find
an urgent message from an unfamiliar person at The New York Times asking for two copies of the newest edition
right away. She couldn’t reach the person by phone but took no chances and had
a messenger deliver the books that afternoon. When she finally did get the
party on the phone it turned out to be someone in the newspaper’s fact-checking
department. He knew how hard we worked to make sure actors’ names were spelled
correctly and wanted to have our latest guide. When my publicist asked if he
could help get us a mention, if not a review, in the paper he said he had no
clout in that area. We had to settle for being flattered once again.

Back in 1968, when I was hired to do this job, I wanted to
provide more information than one could find in TV Guide or most newspaper listings of movies on TV. Over the
years, our short, telegraphic-style reviews got a bit chunkier along with our
cast lists, as we tried to pack as much information as we could into each
paragraph-sized writeup. One of the most enjoyable parts of updating the book
was noting who had become famous—or nominated for an Oscar—that year and adding
their names to cast listings of films they made five, ten, or even twenty years
ago. June Squibb, Octavia Spencer, and Melissa McCarthy are just a few recent
examples that come to mind. (Did you know that Squibb, who made such a splash
in Nebraska last year, was in Martin
Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence in

This is what I’ve come to call “curated information.” It
takes time, effort, and a certain degree of expertise to assemble; it’s what
sets our Guide apart from the mass of data anyone can find online, for free.
But one can’t fight change and I certainly can’t complain about our
extraordinary long-term success.

I’m grateful to everyone who has expressed such warm
feelings toward the book. I share a sense of pride with my dedicated colleagues
who have contributed to it since its inception. And I’m delighted that we’ll
get to revise and expand the Classic
Movie Guide
. Onward and upward!


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I’m so sorry to hear this! I’ve been buying a new Guide every four or five years since the early ’80s and find myself in agreement with your ratings approximately 90 percent of the time. You are one of the very few critics who understand that (for example) "Blade Runner" is not a good movie, and "The Big Lebowski" is only a fair one. I hope you will put your reviews online once the 2015 book is no longer in stores. I’d love to be able to generate a list of your four-star reviews. Best wishes for all your future endeavors!

Martha Shipman

I inherited my mother’s 1991 edition of your book that never leaves my side. My Bible as to what I refer to it, give me endless entertainment. I’ve been wanting to replace it because TCM shows a lot movies now that are not in there. I’m happy to see you have updated your book. I will be hunting that book down to purchase my own copy. Thank you for your dedication to my entertainment. Martha Shipman St. Louis, Mo.

Denny Lynch

I still have a copy of every edition and consult them regularly. There’s one in every room with a TV, and dozens more in my library!

Chris Hoskins

If I had to explain the slang "dog-eared," I could do no better than produce any copy of "TV Movies." Back in the day before cable- when "old movies" were the life’s blood of any local TV station, ruffling through a worn edition to find out if some "oater" at one o’clock in the morning was worth my time was a joyful ritual. The book was more than a mass market paperback but a trusted friend. All good things come to an end, I guess, and here’s hoping "TV Movies" will somehow be placed between someone’s Tablet and bag of Doritos. "Dog-eared," of course.

Louis Helman

Thank you so much, Leonard Maltin, for providing this invaluable yearly-printed resource for all of us who love movies and have come to depend on a copy of your book to be within easy reach on our coffee tables and nightstands. Whenever I had a question about a certain supporting player, director, or even cinematographer, I could usually find reference to them (and the quality of their work) in your book.

I've been purchasing copies of it for over 25 years and will certainly pick up the 2015 edition, both as a useful guide and a fond remembrance of the many years it's given me and countless others a sense of our collective film history.

Have you ever thought of creating an online version of your book. I would imagine many of your fans would be glad to subscribe to it for a reasonable fee? If not, please give it some serious consideration.

Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors. And thanks for the movie memories and expertise, which you so generously shared with all of us.

Mark Philp

For many years, I was movie programmer at a local TV station and Leonard's Movie Guide was the key item on my desk. I used it every single day and can't remember how many copies I wore out. I don't know the number of times I'd call a studio to get an accurate running time on some recently acquired film and the best they could come up with was something like "Oh, it's about an hour and half." I'd usually go by the running time in the book and, more often than not, it proved to be correct.

I'm going to miss the latest edition each year, but look forward to to a new edition of "Classic Movies". My deepest thanks Leonard to you and your staff for decades of great work.

Larry Smith

Thanks Mr. Leonard Maltin for the thousands of hours of organizing the single most used book in our library!

My lovely wife Jenny and I will be buying the last issue, as we have been buying and using every issue for decades. Thanks for giving us so many memories…

Len has been an old friend who I remembered handed us tickets before giving us a personal tour of the home he shares with Alice his sweet wife about ten years ago…

I first met Len at Cinefest, a film festival back in 1987 when he was pushing his daughter around in a stroller (she now writes her own reviews)

And of course when he came to Dayton, Ohio to see Cinerama back in 1996 and visited the Library Of Congress nitrate film vaults (then) on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Thousands of times his mini reviews have helped us see and discover films that would become our favorites or avoid titles (saving our valuable time) that were unseen by us.

We mostly agreed with his views but sometimes we didn’t. Jenny is still waiting on him to upgrade his review for The Night Is Young (1935).

I remember back in the 1970s meeting the editor who first hired 13 year old Len and we've tracked down a copy of his first published article for "The 8mm Collector."

Many years and movies have gone by and we will miss that wonderful fat book, but we still have Len and his wonder filled blog.

We read it almost daily.

Larry & Jen.

P.S. I have his (& the worlds) shortest review on a lobby card above my desk at work. It's for a film called, "Isn't It Romantic" to which Leonard when he autographed it for me wrote "no."

Rob Hardy

Thanks, thanks for such a useful book; my wife and I have been married for 38 years and we have had it and the updates for all that time. And just because it won't be updated again doesn't mean we won't still use it. What a valuable resource. We are both grateful.

Gary R

So sad to see the end of an era. I've been getting the guide every year since 1990. I'll miss it dearly. Hope you can keep up the Classic Guide, so at least we'll have a new "Maltin" every 5 years!


I received my copy of the 2015 Guide today and was shocked to read that this will be the last one. Your Guide has been a constant for me for many many years and it will be sorely missed. I found a lot of movies I would otherwise have missed through it. Best wishes as you go forward and I am glad that at least there will be another Classics Guide soon. Thank you and all the people who helped you bring movie fans like myself such a wonderful resource.


Was late 1979 when my late grandmother in one of their frecuent trips to USA, bring me a copy of your book of the 1978 edition. It gived me one great joy to late night to tv movie watching. I remenber the first review i look, it was for a curious 1933 movie NIGHT OF TERROR worth rediscovered for one of the most incrredible endings i ever saw in my life.
But let,s never lose the hope. Probably in the not so distant future we meet with another version of your classic book, a version in which i hope to see a review of a movie made in my country, and hopefully one of four stars.
p.s. right now i start to make the arrengements to buy this last edition and also your 2015 CLASSIC MOVIE GUIDE, see you soon¡

David Rowe

"The Guide" will be missed! It's still faster than firing up laptop or phone. And Mr. Sheinman's routine of shuffling copies is very similar to my system.

Blessings as you move forward, and I hope you "bring back the app." Very disappointed that it just disappeared…

Say, can you tell us how the new guide has fewer pages than 2014? Does this mean more films are moving over into the 3rd edition of the Classics volume?

Stewart McLaren

I can't believe it!!! I've been using this book religiously for over 15 years. It's the best movie reference book you can get, without a doubt!

Please please please reconsider!!

P.S. Thank you so much for the book over the years. I LOVE IT!

Michael Shaw

NOOO! I can't believe you're ending this…I've bought your book every year since 1984(I was 18). I like the info true, but it's your reviews my wife and I love. We've always enjoyed finding obscure movies to watch from your ratings. I have to ask: What prompted this? You're the only reviewer my wife and I trust, I agree with Mr. Reinecke in his comments, if this wasn't what you wanted PLEASE reconsider! When your book comes out every year It's like Christmas in our house. And we love old movies and enjoy the Classic guide too. Please don't let it end!


Roger Green

I've been getting your book about every three years, usually for Christmas. But I usually keep the previous edition at work, giving away the version before that. Understandable that it's ending, but sad.


I always enjoy reading this book. I'll definitely get this year's version. It's sad that it's the last one. Thanks, Leonard, for all you've done, and I will be getting the new edition of your "Classic Movie Guide" next year.

Allen J. Sheinman

My routine, as has been in effect for 30-plus years: The 2015 will go on the main bookshelf at home in NYC; the 2014 moves over to the workplace shelf; the 2013 goes down to the Florida condo, and I give the 2012 away. Hard to believe this will be the last such rotating of copies. Like untold number of other fans, I can't possibly count the times I prefaced a viewing with, "Let's see what Maltin says." And every year I kept meaning to send you a note asking if you could add just one page listing all the new and revised movie titles. Alas. Thanks to you and your staff for all the hard work and all the decades of a truly wonderful resource.

Mikael Larsson

Sad news! I bought the book the first time in 1991, the next book 1993. Since 1996 I have bought it every year.


I'm 27 and your book has been in my family for as long as I can remember. My grandfather gave me my first copy. That was back in 95. And I've been buying it ever since. Thank you for everything Mr. Maltin and I hope you keep on reviewing movies online.


So does this mean this is the last update of the truly spectacular iPhone app as well? I was introduced to the Movie Guide in the mid-1980's and it was indispensable but the app takes it to an entirely different level. Look up a movie, tap on the director or an actor and you get a listing of all their films. Cross-reference heaven.

Thanks Leonard, for sharing your love of the movies with us.


David Johnson

Thanks Leonard, I was first introduced to the guide in 1980-1 and haven't been without the latest edition since. Many thanks and much appreciation to all concerned. – dwj

Steven Smith

Few books change people's lives. Yours did and will continue to do so, since it's indelibly impacted all of us who bought, loved and even tried to memorize it for decades. (And yes, thanks to my older brother, I had the 1969 edition!) ****

Tony Caruana

I feel like I'm losing an old friend.But as you said, onward and upward. Thanks for all your hard work.


Are you going to begin putting stars onto your reviews at this blog? I can't imagine what I'm going to do when I no longer have your reference for films in a star format.

Jim Reinecke

Oh, and one more thing, folks (he added, sounding like Lt. Columbo): Check the fine print in the upper left hand corner on the cover of the first guide. Yes it was only a buck and a quarter in 1969!

Jim Reinecke

This is what some dunderheads call progress?!? I haven't even bought the new edition and I'm already going through withdrawal at the idea of never purchasing another Leonard Maltin Movie Guide. This just can't be! I've grown up using your guides as the gospel (the first edition came out when I was 12. . .I still remember my dad buying it for me at the old Sears Roebuck store on south Grand Avenue here in my hometown of St. Louis), and each new update was eagerly anticipated. If anyone knows basic math, they can figure out that I'm now 57 and your guide has been one of the few constants in my life since that first edition 45 years ago (along with, of course, my love of movies, which predates it and my ardent passion for the sport of hockey and my beloved St. Louis Blues). If this was your call, Leonard, so be it, and thanks for the great run. But if some mindless cyberspace junkie came to this decision I call down the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West on this individual. The only good news in this whole blog was the announcement of an updated Classic Guide.

Claude Vecht-Wolf

Thank you so much Leonard.
Good luck with your future projects- you have a dedicated fan in me!


Please tell me it's not so! It's been my movie guide bible from the very first edition. Before that I had Mr. Scheuer’s books, again since his first edition (around 1958?). Being a subscriber to young Leonard Maltin's Film Fan Monthly I suspected he could do it even better…and oh could he! Hardly a day goes by when I don't consult either the latest edition of the general guide or even more often (as a dedicated TCM viewer) his Classic Movie Guide. I couldn't begin to count the thousands of gems he's steered me to or the thousands of hours of wasted time he's saved me by helping me avoid the clinkers. We have rare disagreements on the **** ratings but more the most part I find Leonard is spot on on his assessments…or maybe we just like the same kind of movies! Sad to see it end but an updated Classic Movie Guide sort of eases the pain! Thanks for the memories Leonard!


I know I have a few of your old paperback movie guides stashed away, but my favorite will always be the yellow hardcover copy of your The Disney Films guide, probably the original edition from 1973 (also stashed away, but this gives me reason to unearth it one of these days). It was a pleasure meeting you in person during the making of the DVD extras process for the Disney Treasures Zorro. Thank you (and Roy Disney) for your efforts in making that DVD release happen. As a baby boomer myself – born the same year as you – and in my case, working in the travel industry field since I was a shade shy of my 18th birthday – I appreciate the time and dedication (and blood, sweat and tears) you have put into your life's work. Glad that you will continue to publish you Classic Movie Guide, but do enjoy your slightly less hectic schedule.

Ben Frey

Long before there was an IMDb, I used your Guide on a semi-irregular basis to determine my favorite films. I would buy the Guide every two or three years (we're talking poor college student phase of my life) and go through it page by page, entry by entry. This was a weeks-long project. On the appropriate films, I would mark a '5' or a '10' or an 'HM'. I would end up with distinctly misnamed lists of my Top 5 and Top 10 films. The first time through, I had around 30 Top 5s (my all-time favorites) and around 60 Top 10s (only lightly less enjoyable than the 5s). HM was Honorable Mention and totaled somewhere over 200. I treated my self to this exercise around 5 times over about 12 years, then committed to IMDb and logging and rating every single film I've ever seen. My Top 5s have transformed into 9 stars on IMdb (as there are no Perfect films, no 10 stars). I still keep up with your efforts though, on the TCM Schedule page, where your reviews cover about 75% of the films shown on that channel.

corriea mattina

9/02/14 3:00p Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy
I never had a chance to buy the First movie guide in 1969. I bought the 1975 Edition and I've been purchasing it ever since. I hadn't read the Online explanation why this is happening.

Steve Aldous

My copy arrived this morning and I read the opening sentence of your Introduction with great sadness. Your Guide has been a constant companion since the 1970s and I have updated annually for the last twenty plus years of its run.

Thank you for fuelling my enthusiasm for the movies during my teenage years and for being a constant companion throughout my adult life. The Guide will be greatly missed.



Too bad the kids won't continue the Maltin"family" tradition, I don't know howmany guides are out there, but LMMG was at the top of my list…One less stocking stuffer…too bad…Did he ever give credit to Spencer Tracy as the narrator for "How the West Was Won?"…

Tim Davis

Oh, my. The end of an era! As a compulsive crossword puzzle fan, your book was absolutely necessary on Sundays (Well, Monday through Saturday, too). I'll admit to only buying the Guide every other year due to shelf limitations so that might explain sales fluxuations. Seriously, though, I've always had a copy of the Guide on the end-table so I could quickly look up that weird flick at 1:30 a.m. that was showing on my local late-night station. Thanks for all the effort and love you put into each edition.

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