Jul 14, 2018
Book Review--Leonard Maltin's Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom
Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom
Good Knight Books, 2018
Before the movie guidebooks, television review gig, and thriving podcast, film critic Leonard Maltin was a teenage cinema fanatic living in New York City. There he had access to archives, rare film screenings, and some of the best performers and creators in the business. He made the most of these connections, writing thoughtful reviews of what he saw, putting in diligent research, and coming to interviews with a wealth of knowledge about and respect for his subjects. Now a great treasure trove of this early work is compiled for the first time in Maltin’s latest: Hooked on Hollywood.
The book is organized into four parts: a collection of essays about film and television, Maltin’s early interviews, a collection of more in-depth later interviews, and a final section which is a fascinating history of RKO studio. Much of the material collected here has been in storage for over forty years, and is as remarkable for the pre-VHS time it captures as much for Maltin’s already well-developed critical and interviewing skills.
Maltin draws honest, candid comments from stars like Burgess Meredith, Joan Blondell and Henry Wilcoxon, who perhaps let their guard down a bit in the presence of this curious and unusually knowledgeable young man. He draws an even more interesting perspective from those in the industry who were not superstars, and thus had the advantage of a perspective out of the spotlight. The conversations with prolific radio, stage, television and film performer Peggy Webber and television and film director Leslie H. Martinson are two of the best, revealing the experiences of a pair of industry legends who are not household names, but have contributed a lot and have a knack for telling a good story.
I enjoyed the earnest tone and thorough research of Maltin’s early writings, but it was the interviews that moved me the most. In his respectful, even reverential treatment of these people who for the most part had been forgotten by the public, or at the very least undervalued, he reminded me a lot of the gentlemanly way Robert Osborne would celebrate industry greats. As much as I have seen Maltin as a promoter and lover of all aspects of film history, I hadn’t seen this side of him before. It wasn’t surprising, but it was a pleasant revelation.
This was an enjoyable, educational read and one I plan to revisit.
Many thanks to Good Knight Books/Paladin Communications for providing a copy of the book for review.