Hooked on Hollywood

Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom

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Pub Date 02 Jul 2018 | Archive Date 26 Nov 2018

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Leonard Maltin is America’s best-known film historian, film reviewer, and author of books that have sold more than 7 million copies. He remains a thought leader on past and present Hollywood through his website www.leonardmaltin.com, and a social media presence that includes an active Facebook page and a Twitter feed with more than 66,000 followers. In Hooked on Hollywood, Maltin opens up his personal archive to take readers on a fascinating journey through film history. He first interviewed greats of Hollywood as a precocious teenager in 1960s New York City. He used what he learned from these luminaries to embark on a 50-year (and counting) career that has included New York Times bestselling books, 30 years of regular appearances coast-to-coast on Entertainment Tonight, movie introductions on Turner Classic Movies, and countless other television and radio performances. Early Maltin interviews had literally been stored in his garage for more than 40 years until GoodKnight Books brought them to light for the first time in this volume to entertain readers and inform future film scholars. Teenaged Leonard Maltin landed one-on-ones with Warner Bros. sexy pre-Code siren Joan Blondell; Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Burgess Meredith; Cecil B. DeMille’s right-hand-man Henry Wilcoxon; Oscar-winning actor Ralph Bellamy; playwright, novelist, and MGM screenwriter Anita Loos; early screen heartthrob George O’Brien; classic Paramount director Mitchell Leisen; and others. Later in his career, Maltin sat down with men and women who worked inside the top studios during the heyday of movies and early television. This second set of in-depth interviews reveals what life was like under Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Harry Cohn, and the other titans of Hollywood. What emerges is a fascinating and at times uproarious homage to Golden Era Hollywood. In addition, key feature articles from Maltin’s newsletter Movie Crazy are published here for the first time, providing new perspectives on the Warner Bros. classics Casablanca and Gold Diggers of 1933 as well as many other masterpieces—and bombs—from Hollywood history. Finally, Maltin looks back at what he considers Hollywood’s “overlooked” studio, RKO Radio Pictures, which gave us such classics as King Kong and the many dance musicals of Astaire and Rogers. In Leonard’s unique and witty style, he looks at dozens of obscure RKO features from the 1930s, including saucy pre-Codes, musicals, comedies, and mysteries. Leonard Maltin’s love of movies and vast knowledge about their history shines through from the first page to the last in this unique volume, which includes 150 rare photos and a comprehensive index.

Leonard Maltin is America’s best-known film historian, film reviewer, and author of books that have sold more than 7 million copies. He remains a thought leader on past and present Hollywood through...

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About the Author:

Leonard Maltin is one of the most recognized and respected film critics of our time. He appears regularly on Reelz Channel and spent 30 years on the hit television show, Entertainment Tonight.


An established author, he is best known for his annual paperback reference, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide. In 2005, he introduced a companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide (now in its third edition), which focuses on movies made before 1965, going back to the silent era.


Leonard’s other books include The Best 151 Movies You’ve Never Seen, The Disney Films, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio’s Golden Age, The Great Movie Comedians, The Art of the Cinematographer, Selected Short Subjects and (as co-author) The Little Rascals: The Life and Times of Our Gang.


Leonard has been teaching at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for the last 20 years. His popular class screens new films prior to their release, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. This direct access to top talent has proven to be invaluable in his students’ own filmmaking endeavors.

As an expert and host, he is frequently seen on news programs and documentaries, and has enjoyed a long association with Turner Classic Movies, where he appears regularly. For three years, he co-hosted the weekly syndicated movie review program Hot Ticket, which was produced by Entertainment Tonight.

Leonard is a prolific freelance writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The London Times, Smithsonian, TV Guide, Esquire, The Village Voice and American Film. He was the film critic for Playboy magazine for six years.


Additionally, Leonard frequently lectures on film and was a member of the faculty of New York City’s New School for Social Research for nine years. He served as Guest Curator at the Museum of Modern Art film department in New York on two separate occasions.

Leonard created, hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and appeared on Warner Home Video’s Night at the Movies features. He has written a number of television specials, including Fantasia: The Creation of a Disney Classic and has hosted, produced and written such video documentaries and compilations as The Making of The Quiet Man, The Making of High Noon, Cartoons for Big Kids, The Lost Stooges, Young Duke: The Making of a Movie Star, Cliffhangers: Adventures from the Thrill Factory and Cartoon Madness: The Fantastic Max Fleischer Cartoons.


In 2006 he was named by the Librarian of Congress to join the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He also has received awards and citations from the American Society of Cinematographers, Anthology Film Archives, The Society of Cinephiles, San Diego Comic-Con International, and the Telluride Film Festival. In 1997 he was made a voting member of the National Film Registry, which selects 25 landmark American films every year. Perhaps the greatest indication of his fame was his appearance in a now-classic episode of the animated series South Park.

He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies.

About the Author:

Leonard Maltin is one of the most recognized and respected film critics of our time. He appears regularly on Reelz Channel and spent 30 years on the hit television show, ...

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Featured Reviews

Leonard Maltin has loved movies his whole life as this collection of interviews and musings clearly shows. This book is full of interviews Maltin conducted when he was a teenager not out of high school with obscure and not so obscure then Hollywood veterans. Chock full of cool behind the scenes info on the birth of Hollywood , this is a great book for the person who thought she had read everything there was to read about Hollywood. Recommended.

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It should come as no surprise that Leonard Maltin is a massive fountain of information regarding film, and this book, which focuses mostly on cinema prior to the 1950s, serves as an interesting aside and/or amplifier of those seeking to appreciate the films of these eras (I'm in this category), or those looking to learn a little more or rediscover.

You're treated to some likely lesser-known info on some selected films by the author (including Casablanca), a section on the influx of film remakes following the advent of non-silent movies, interviews Maltin conducted with stars of the time (each worthwhile in their own regard), and, to cap it all off, a chapter on RKO studios + some recommendations from said studio.

Each section has its own charm and carries a dense amount of historic information (I could read this 10 times and recall something I swore I'd not forget---it's like someone dumping a bucket of popcorn in your hands and trying to hold every kernel) and the reader can either approach the book from strictly an angle of learning about historical information from the ages discussed, as a fan of the films/actors/directors of those spans of time, or both.

If you love film history and are even just a little bit interested in the Silent Era, how remakes are definitely not a new phenomenon, or wish to have insight into how the film industry operated going up to WWII and a bit past that, then it's a strong recommend. It's a book I didn't know I needed to read.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the advance read.

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Basically a collection of older interviews with Hollywood personalities. I found something interesting in all of them, even with some people I've never heard of. The book also includes a list of recommended RKO pictures from the 30's. A book for lovers of TCM and old movies in general.

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Leonard Maltin’s new book is cornucopia of information regarding the silent to the 40’s era of Hollywood. It is richly detailed but you don’t have to take his word for it, you can take the host of interviews found within its pages that detail and account from the people who where there and experienced it personally.

Leonard Maltin’s interview style is one of a lost art that we lack from today. He lets the interviewee talk and express themselves without jumping into making it about him and his loves. He does give a few paragraphs of details before interview but he really lets the person open up and share. This is magnificent because it opens up an era that is becoming increasingly lost today.

This is definitely a book for any film fan out there but it would not go amiss for even the casual fan who would like a deeper understanding of this era. There is an extra plus found within the pages where he goes through the history of RKO Pictures and their films which is a nice treat. Although it seems a lot of these films are lost today, lets hope that somewhere in the near future, some of these films will see the light of day today.

Leonard Maltin is a god when it comes to film history and he has mastered this so he is not droning but as a man who is bringing you along for the ride. This is an excellent addition to all fans of Hollywood and one that if you don’t buy, your bookshelf will be sorely lacking.

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This book is very well written, and contains so many facts and stories about "old Hollywood." I like to read about the history of film and Hollywood so I enjoyed it very much. Great book for all film historians!

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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.

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Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom by Leonard Maltin is a 2018 publication.

If you are a film buff with a healthy appreciation for old movies and old Hollywood, you simply must treat yourself to this book!!

Having based a successful career around the movie industry, all his knowledge about the business, the information he gleened from interviews, and the critical eye he was required to apply to his movie reviews, could have left Maltin feeling a little jaded. After all, it is a job, just like any other, but this book makes it obvious the author is still enthalled with his subject. Despite the professional approach, the movie fan in Maltin still shines through.

Maltin has been interviewing actors and actresses since he was in high school, and he certainly has a knack for it. He’s been doing interviews and reviewing movies for over fifty years. So, naturally, during that time, he’s learned quite a few interesting tidbits and trivia about Hollywood, some of which he has compiled here in this book, along with some of his early interviews.

I found the interview with Burgess Meredith quite interesting. I only knew him in a few roles- mainly ‘Batman’, a role he was quick to say he enjoyed playing. However, I was surprised by the depth of his career. I was also impressed by the amount of time he sat with Maltin and the interesting answers he gave.

And... I love Joan Blondell-

Many may know her from the movie "Grease" but, her career spanned over fify years.

She once did 32 pictures in 27 months!! She gave an interesting, blunt, and insightful interview, as well.

The ‘Conversations’ section differs slightly from in the interview segment, the main difference being that Maltin’s subjects were given more latitude, and the answers were much lengthier with many more interesting details, opinions and impressions.

Other interesting conversations for me were from people whose names I did not recognize.

I was not familiar with Madge Evans or Peggy Webber ,but found their careers and interviews very intriguing. As it turns out Peggy’s career was quite long, as she ‘looped’ and ‘dubbed’ for many films.

But, perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the section about RKO Studios. RKO stopped making movies in the 1950’s, and as Maltin says- the corporate name lived on, but it was in many respects the ‘forgotten’ studio. But, RKO studio had some real blockbusters back in its prime- like ‘King Kong” for example.

But, here, Maltin takes a closer look at some lesser known gems- some of which even the most avid film buff may not be aware of, or if they are, wouldn’t know half of the information Maltin as provided for us here. The pre-code gems were a fantastic addition to the list. I’ve seen some pre-code media and it’s amazing what was allowed on film- especially for those of us who have always lived under the strict ratings system we have today.

To tell the truth, I’ve long ago given up on the movie industry, but the rest of my family are avid movie fans. For me, the older movies are the only ones I will spare time for. Old Hollywood has always been fascinating to me, and I tend to gravitate towards books, fiction or non-fiction, that explore that era of time. This book, then, was very fun for me, and I discovered many movies I had not heard of, learned many interesting facts about actors and actresses I was aware of, and of course a few I was unfamiliar with.

The book is well organized and packed with a wealth of little -known facts and frank conversations, which may also make it appealing to those who enjoy history, pop culture, nostalgia, or to those who thrive on trivia.

This book can be read straight through, but I enjoyed picking up between reads and savoring it a little at a time. This is a book I will keep as a reference from time to time, or to simply reminisce.

I love books like this one. It appeals to my love of history, old Hollywood, and my ever -increasing fascination with anything off the beaten path or obscure, lost or forgotten. Maltin’s first -hand experience adds that special added touch of magic, and even feels a little poignant, as well.

4..5 stars

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Leonard Maltin, a writer and film nerd who sits among the critical pantheon where Pauline Kael, James Agee, and Roger Ebert hold court, begins his latest collection of essays and interviews, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD, with a recollection of his youth when he was an avid reader of the legendary Famous Monsters of Filmland.

It’s a fitting, heartening image to consider and a brilliant way to begin. How many of us first heard the siren call of cinema in the pages of Fangoria or had our filmic lust tantalized by the latest issue of Starlog? Who among us came to the shores of movie geekery on a ship made of horror, our landscapes expanding wider with each new monster and every fantastic new effect? This simple anecdote, from which Maltin spins a yarn of impassioned writing and film nerdity spanning decades, explains and contextualizes so much.

Maltin, for all his achievements and all his work, is, at his heart, just a horror nerd, a kid sucked into a world of fancy by monsters and makeup. For all the venom foisted upon critics in comment sections and tweets, it’s easy to forget that first and foremost, like most of us, critics are fans.

Culling from years of material produced in Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD is, if nothing else, an ode to fandom. And not the kind of fandom we think about when we think about fandom today—the kind responsible for so many deactivated accounts and so much keeping of gates—but the true fandom, the kind that inspires deep research and contemplation. That kind that fuels fascination and wonder.

Much of what Maltin writes here might not be interesting to the lay reader. He isn’t here to discuss the modern blockbuster (or even necessarily the classic blockbuster) or to discuss your favorite actor. As always, Maltin strives for something more, following the trails of minutiae from the archives of the classic studios to discover the fascinating tidbits that surround the making of a film or the influence of a score.

In typical Maltin fashion, HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD is filled to the brim with deep dives, offering a scholarly approach to the topics at hand. In true geek fashion, Maltin has always been a master at research, and his access to the archives of Warner Brothers offers a uniquely fascinating look at the Golden Age of the studio system. One particularly memorable essay, “Here We Go Again,” finds Maltin dispelling the notion that the modern Hollywood obsession with remakes is, in any way, new. Reflecting on the 1930’s trend of remaking popular silent films in the talkie era, Maltin writes, “Sometimes studios and filmmakers would delude themselves into believing that audiences wouldn’t remember the earlier pictures; in some cases they genuinely believed they could improve upon the originals.”

As it is with today, sometimes they were right, mostly they were wrong. But the essay serves as a reminder that what’s wrong with Hollywood has always been wrong with Hollywood. It’s written with a sense of both acknowledgement—of the times they’ve gotten it right—and bemusement—for the rest of the times. It’s a deeply researched and documented work of academia, though one rich with critical subtext, suggesting, in many places, rather than telling, the behind the scenes hell that many of these movies must have endured on their path to the silver screen.

Throughout it all, even when discussing films he didn’t like or that bombed with audiences, there’s a deep reverence for the artistry and work required to bring stories to life that can only be fueled by pure, unadulterated fandom. One senses that Maltin, even when watching a film he loathes, cannot help but wonder about the journey the film took behind the scenes. It’s a deep and abiding respect that so flies in the face of our modern notion of fandom, and even when reading about a film you might not even know, you’re easily drawn into Maltin’s perspective and cannot help but find yourself fascinated if by nothing else than Maltin’s fascination.

What’s truly remarkable about many of these pieces is that he took over Film Fan Monthly, an early zine, when he was just 15 years old. He did it for the passion, for the thrill, for the sheer joy of sharing his thoughts about film. These days you can find any of a million people doing this on blogs or on Twitter, but Maltin’s era required a dedication and commitment not held by many even today. It was, simply, his joie de film that compelled him, and what continues to compel him today.

You see this more in the two sections of interviews included in HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD; the first from his early days (some from the tender age of 16), the second from his latter days. As with his essays, the interviews provide an invaluable look at the machinations of the Golden Age. Not only that, but we see the incredible growth of Maltin throughout his career.

These days, he is an interviewer’s interviewer. He knows how to pierce through a subject’s natural defenses and suss out the story yearning to be told. Turns out, this was true even in his youth. It’s hard to think of a star like Burgess Meredith sitting down with a 17-year-old, let alone opening up as much as he did. Perhaps it’s a case of a seasoned professional opening up to a bright-eyed young kid to throw him a bone, but reading through it, and the rest included in HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD, you’re witnessing the birth of a master. One can’t help but wonder at what Meredith must have thought upon the interview’s conclusion.

All of this being said, HOOKED ON HOLLWOOD isn’t necessarily the kind of book you just pick up and read without a deep interest in the history of cinema. As a reference, however, it is stunning. Packed with anecdotes and stunning quotes, it is as valuable a tool for the cinematic academic as anything released in the last few years. Maltin has also loaded his tome with hundreds of behind the scenes pictures, one sheets, and advertisements to present a broad historical document not just about the movie industry, but in his interests and fandom.

Though occasionally the prose is dense and the often the subject obscure, what HOOKED ON HOLLYWOOD does best is remind us that fandom need not be toxic. Fandom isn’t—and never has been—about slinging insults at makers and stars or delighting in the “thrill” of chasing someone of Twitter simply because you didn’t like their work. What Maltin does here, even with the works he doesn’t like, is engage thoughtfully to find the little nuggets of interest, the behind the scenes tales, the post-release magic, and the wonder of any particular film. In doing so, he finds the beating heart of film and the very soul of fandom, arguably where it’s been all along: Sitting in a room, hunched over an issue of Famous Monsters or Fangoria, and finding yourself filled to the brim with wonder.

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As a movie lover, this book opened new views. I enjoy reading about movies, artists, sets, scripts, especially about the heydays. Leonard Maltin knows his stuff (as everyone knows) and his personal views make this book a very good, interesting read.

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