Last month brought the final print edition of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide (2015), and Mr. Maltin attended Fantastic Fest as both guest of honor and head of the comedy jury. Fulfilling those prestigious roles, he shot rifles, watched ‘Bros Before Hos’ and basically proved himself to be a living badass of film history and criticism.
Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly (authors of punk guide, ‘Destroy All Movies!!!’) moderated an hour-long discussion with Maltin, discussing the beginning of his career and his views on the current directions of film and criticism.
His career began when he was thirteen-years old (!), submitting articles to fanzines listed in Forrest Akermann’s Favorite Monsters of Filmland. He helmed Film Fan Monthly from the time he was 15 years old, and edited it for 9 years, sending it out via mail-order to around 1500 subscribers.
By the time he was a freshman in college, aged 17, he had unwittingly talked himself into the job of editing “TV Movies”, a competitive volume to “Movies on TV” — books that basically attempted to provide information on all the classic Hollywood films being recycled for non-prime time network programming.
Honestly, Maltin’s description of his childhood viewing habits didn’t differ much from my memories, except I found the classics on regional and cable networks. It’s remarkable to realize that the cultural currency of the 1930s-40s was still shared with generations of kids through the 1980s, which explains why Maltin’s comprehensive guide became such a touchstone.
The entire Fantastic Fest discussion with him can be found here on the Green Screen of Death.
A true festival highlight was the opportunity to play MALTIN’S. Producer Ant Timpson (The ABC’s of Death 2) devised the game with his brother in the early 1990’s. Basically, it’s a cinephile’s spin on Balderdash that became enough of a phenomenon to get mentioned on the longest-running British soap, Coronation Street.
These are the basic rules (copied-pasted-and cut down to size):
PLAYERS WRITE LIKE FILM CRITIC LEONARD MALTIN AND FOOL FRIENDS INTO BELIEVING THE FAKE MOVIES ARE REAL!
Grab an old copy of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, a stack of A6 paper and 4-6 friends. Each player takes a turn as “Maltin.” (To complete the illusion, wear fake glasses, beard & mustache.) ‘Maltin’ chooses a film title that no one recognizes from the guide and writes down the actual review.
Given only the title, all other players must create a mini-review that adheres to Maltin’s style. Players write their names below the fake synopses and hand them over to ‘Maltin’, who will read all the reviews aloud — maintaining an even and neutral tone.
(It is also important that ‘Maltin’ quietly clarify questions regarding pronunciation, grammar or illegible handwriting with respective players, because any verbal slip-ups can cue others that the synopsis is fake. Players do not include other information, such as stars, running time, rating or year in their synopses.)
Players must then choose the real synopis.
Choosing the real synopsis = 2pts
Getting your fake synopsis chosen = 1pt per player
No player chooses the real one = 2pts to the Maltin
A game of Maltins consists of everyone playing as Maltin once. The highest score wins and is crowned King Maltin.
Despite my best efforts, I did not get an opportunity to sit at the finalist table to face off against the real Maltin. Thankfully, I spared myself the indignity of being decimated in battle. Maltin kept his throne, handily defeating the contestants; he knew every movie title and his fake synopses were — surprise — as persuasive as the real things.
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide is dead; Long Live the King!