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Maltin on Movies

Legendary film critic Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie are the ultimate movie fans. They love talking about movies, especially with people who share their enthusiasm—from living legends like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Quincy Jones to such contemporary artists as Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Laura Dern, and Bryan Cranston. You’ll meet all kinds of interesting people and hear their recommendations of unsung movies you ought to know...
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Now displaying: Page 1
Feb 23, 2024
Originally published Jun 10, 2021

From The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi to such movies as Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good as It Gets, writer-director-producer James L. Brooks has created quality entertainment for decades and has no intention of slowing down. He has served as mentor to the likes of Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson and continues to work with young talents behind the camera. Oh yes—he’s also produced The Simpsons for the past 30 years. Leonard and Jessie were honored to talk to this multi-award-winning talent about his remarkable career.

Feb 9, 2024

Cord Jefferson is riding high as the Oscar-nominated writer and director of American Fiction, which has widely and properly been acclaimed as one of the best films of the past year. Even more exciting is the fact that Jefferson has never made a movie before. Leonard and Jessie enjoyed exploring the building blocks of his career that led to this achievement. He was on the writing staff of Larry Wilmore’s Late Night comedy show and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, among others, when a series of events pointed him toward filmmaking. Step One was finding a property he cared enough about to adapt and then direct. Unlike other neophytes who get their first break right out of film school, Cord had traveled the world and worked as a journalist before he ever stepped foot on a movie set. We are eager to see what comes next.

Feb 5, 2024

As editor of Empire, Nick de Semlyen presides over the best film and television magazine in the English language: Empire. Every issue is jam-packed with deep-dive articles, interviews, set visits, and fun facts for both the fan and the aficionado. Nick has also written two excellent books examining American films of the 1980s: Wild and Crazy Guys and The Last Action Heroes. Leonard and Jessie got to meet him on their last trip to London which cemented a friendship that grew out of their admiration for his work. This episode affirms the belief that the only thing better than watching movies is talking about them with a fellow enthusiast. 

Jan 26, 2024

The senior film critic for the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang is also a graduate of USC and took Leonard’s class—three times. Leonard takes no credit for Justin’s brilliance as an essayist or as a world-class punster. Jessie has known him her whole life and is also an unabashed fan. Just back from the Sundance Film Festival, Justin made time for us to talk about his career and some of the nuts and bolts of being a daily newspaper’s leading critic.

Jan 12, 2024

Our guest this week is now appearing on movie theater screens in The Color Purple, recreating the role of Sofia that she originated in the Broadway revival. But as you’ll hear, that is just her latest achievement in an ever-growing body of work on stage, screen and television. Fans of Orange is the New Black knew her as Taystee, and followers of the recent series Peacemaker could see yet another facet of her boundless talent. A graduate of Juilliard, she is riding high during this awards season but Leonard and Jessie agree that we’ll be watching her in every medium imaginable for years to come.

Jan 5, 2024

Sam Wasson has become one of the finest Hollywood historians of our time, and also one of the most productive. His newest book, The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story is not a conventional biography but an insightful analysis of the formidable filmmaker. It joins Sam’s earlier books on Blake Edwards, Paul Mazursky, and the making of Breakfast at Tiffanys and Chinatown as essential reading. He also coauthored with Jeanine Basinger a hefty new volume called Hollywood: the Oral History. He and Leonard maintain a mutual admiration society and Jessie is its newest recruit.

Dec 18, 2023

Any film that includes Patricia Clarkson in its cast has the cinematic equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. She is that good, that committed, that versatile. Her credits run the gamut from well-loved indies like Lars and the Real Girl, The Station Agent and Dogville to mainstream hits like The Untouchables and TV series, including Six Feet Under, which earned her two Emmy Awards. Her latest release is Monica, about a transgender woman coming to terms with her dying mother. Leonard and Jessie had a ball talking with an actress who loves what she does and has an unquenchable zest for life.

Dec 9, 2023

Oscar-winning actress, mother, championship archer, film festival director, memoirist, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media…Geena Davis has many hats but wears them lightly. The star of such enduring films as Beetlejuice, A League of their Own, and Thelma & Louise is a cut-up at heart, as Leonard and Jessie quickly learned. It’s easy to see how she has accomplished so much, especially in the area of female representation in media. She’s smart and talented but also endearing…and happy to talk about the people she’s worked with (from Penny Marshall to Tim Burton) as well as her history as a creator of whimsical inventions.

 

Dec 2, 2023

David Keith has been out of the spotlight in recent years but when he hit it big in An Officer and a Gentleman he became a hot property. Many movies followed, including The Lords of Discipline, Firestarter, Heartbreak Hotel (in which he played Elvis Presley), and The Indian in the Cupboard, to name just a few. He’s kept busy doing episodic television and directing a handful of genre films. Now he’s working as a creative executive producer, and in his new horror-thriller Walden (available on VOD beginning December 12) he’s given himself a good part as a judge. He sat on his front porch in Knoxville, Tennessee and reminisced with Leonard and Jessie for a cozy, comfortable conversation. 

Nov 24, 2023

A lifetime of acting, mostly on stage, finally paid off for Paul Raci when he earned an Oscar nomination for a part he was born to play in Sound of Metal. It has changed the trajectory of his career, and he is happy to talk about working with Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Lopez, and Colman Domingo on recent projects. But what Leonard and Jessie took away from our conversation is Paul’s admirable work ethic and total dedication to his craft.

 

Nov 17, 2023

If you weren’t among the seven million people watching Melvin Gregg’s 7-second Vine videos online you may know him from such films and TV shows as Nine Perfect Strangers and the brand-new feature Share alongside Bradley Whitford and Alice Braga, now available on VOD. His acting ambitions brought him to Hollywood but unlike other young, struggling thespians, he devised a game plan to get him in the door with A-list filmmakers. Leonard and Jessie advise you to keep an eye on Melvin: he’s going places.

 

Nov 10, 2023

Tony Anselmo’s face may not be familiar, but the whole world knows his voice—that is, when he speaks as his alter ego, Donald Duck! Tony inherited this unique job from its creator, Clarence Nash, and he feels very protective of the famously furious mallard. He is also a graduate of Cal Arts and has been an animator at the Walt Disney studio since 1980. Leonard and Jessie are longtime fans and friends, as they share a love of all things Disney.

Nov 3, 2023

Elizabeth Daley has served as the Dean of the USC School for Cinematic Arts for 30 years, which means she’s been Leonard’s boss for 25 of those years. Leonard and Jessie realized that they’d never sat and just talked to her for an hour—until now. Elizabeth studied theater and migrated to television early in her career, then answered the call from academia for what she thought would be a temporary assignment. Now she consults worldwide based on her vast experience dealing with students, teachers, and such alumni as George Lucas, who laid the foundation (literally) to rebuild the school in downtown Los Angeles. You’ll hear other names appropriately dropped, from Hitchcock to Zemeckis in the course of this wide-ranging conversation.

Oct 20, 2023

Just in time for Halloween, we reconnected with director and film aficionado John Landis for a wide-ranging, clearly spontaneous conversation about horror films past and present. John’s Halloween bona fides: he directed An American Werewolf in London, the underappreciated Innocent Blood, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, about which Jessie was particularly curious. Leonard is always impressed with John’s vast knowledge of film history, especially in the horror/sci-fi/fantasy genres. Jessie’s nearly two-year-old daughter Daisy make a cameo appearance near the end of this episode.

Oct 13, 2023

The actor you know and love from the Evil Dead movies was an animated guest when Leonard and Jessie spoke to him in front of a lively audience at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas back in 2016. 

Sep 29, 2023

Having just wrapped Fantastic Fest 2023, Leonard and Jessie are thinking about past experiences at this unique gathering in Austin, Texas. Step back six years to enjoy an episode recorded at the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar’s lively Highball Lounge with the late, great comedian Gilbert Gottfried. He was one of a kind, and so is this raucous hour-long interview. 

Sep 15, 2023

Writer-director Greg Nava made his reputation with the unforgettable 1983 film El Norte, and then gave the world an exceptional musical biopic, Selena. He is happy to recount the stories behind those memorable films for Leonard, who witnessed El Norte’s breakout screening at the Telluride Film Festival, and Jessie, who has committed Selena to memory. This long-overdue conversation follows a happy reunion at this year’s Telluride fest. 

Aug 25, 2023

Harold Lloyd dangling from the hands of a clock on the side of a building is arguably the most famous single image from the silent-film era. The movie in which that scene appears, Safety Last, was made in 1923 and is being screened Sunday at 2pm at the Academy Museum, with a 27-piece orchestra playing the late Carl Davis’s original score. Leonard and Jessie are delighted to welcome back Suzanne Lloyd, who was raised by her grandfather and grandmother, and her longtime friend Rich Correll, who as a teenager began the process of preserving Harold Lloyd’s film collection. We owe them both a debt of thanks for keeping these movies safe for current and future generations to enjoy.

Aug 25, 2023

Gifted and versatile are two adjectives that describe the women responsible for creating costumes for Netflix’s Emily in Paris (Marylin Fitoussi, who spoke to us from Paris), Queen Charlotte (Lyn Paolo and Laura Frecon) and the esteemed Colleen Atwood (Wednesday), who with this show continues her long partnership with filmmaker Tim Burton.

 

Aug 25, 2023

Several contributors to the Netflix series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities discuss their collaboration: prosthetic makeup designers Sean Sansom and Mike Hill, production designer Tamara Deverell, and cinematographer Anastas Michos.

Aug 18, 2023

Two talented women talk about working on the long-running Netflix series The Crown: costume designer Amy Roberts and hair and makeup specialist Cate Hall. How does the challenge of replicating well-known figures from recent history affect their approach? Listen and find out.

 

Aug 18, 2023

Today we talk to some of the talented people who worked on the Netflix series Beef:  costume designer Helen Huang, casting directors Charlene Lee and Claire Koonce, and editors Laura Zempel and Nat Fuller. You don’t have to be familiar with the show to enjoy hearing them describe their work and the passion they bring to each new project.

Aug 12, 2023

Alan Silvestri’s credits as a film composer are a bit overwhelming: Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Abyss, The Avengers, and on and on. He has just hatched his first Broadway show, a musical version of Back to the Future that will soon open in London as well. And when John Williams was unable to compose the music for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, Alan was the one chosen to fill his shoes. (It’s a great story…) Leonard and Jessie knew this would be an exceptional interview because Alan and Leonard share a history: they graduated from high school in the same class!

Jul 28, 2023

He acted in George Lucas’ first student film. He directed Honey, We Shrunk the Audience for Disney theme parks in 70mm 3-D. He made a virtual reality television series. He studied at USC with actress Nina Foch and “total filmmaker” Jerry Lewis. But as long as he lives, Randal Kleiser will be best known as the guy who directed Grease. He has a new book called Drawing Directors, based on his close encounters with notable colleagues, and has completed a documentary about his high school graduating class called Baby Boomer Yearbook. As Leonard and Jessie learned, Randal lives in the present, looking toward the future.

Jul 21, 2023

His name may be most closely associated with Laugh-In, the television comedy phenom of the late 1960s/early 70s, but George Schlatter has spent a lifetime in show business, with countless credentials and friendships to show for it At the age of 94 he’s Still Laughing—which is the name of his newly published autobiography. He kept Leonard and Jessie laughing as he spun tales of working with Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and the stars he launched on Laugh-In like Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. The stories never stop…...

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