Click here to see a Maltin Minute in praise of...take a guess. Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian, actually included clips of yours truly in this very nice review of the movie. Strange to see myself wandering around the set with Alan Arkin and Andy Garcia--something of a time capsule back a couple of years (I'd not previously seen this behind the scenes footage).

I feel like Leonard Maltin has been part of my cinematic life forever. Recently I've appeared at his USC class and occasionally we run into each other at the odd old movie event in Los Angeles. But his presence in my life literally goes back to the dawn of my interest in movies. When I was quite young (nine, ten?) and started getting heavily into the history of old movies, I got a subscription to Film Fan Monthly, a lovely little magazine that Maltin put out every month (or so) focusing largely on forgotten movie actors of the past, including their filmographies and rare stills. Maltin himself wasn't much older than I was at the time--I think he was a teenager (and quite an enterprising one) when he started the magazine. Soon he was compiling the articles into neat little paperback books that I collected with titles like "The Real Stars", "Movie Comedy Teams", Soon he was onto his Movies on TV series, but not before publishing one of the best and most read film reference books of all times. I speak of "The Great Movie Shorts", a thorough history of the short films put out by studios in the twenties, thirties and forties. Again, invaluable filmographies were included and I learned much about a number of film series that were (and continue to be) frustratingly unavailable. Andy Clyde anyone? Gil Lamb? The Edgar Kennedy RKO shortts? Leon Errol? These were names familiar at the time to most moviegoers but whose short films are all but invisible now. Maltin wrote with earnest passion about this sub-genre of movie history and to this day I'm delighted when I stumble on an old short that I'd read about in his book but never had the chance to see.

Thanks Leonard. And here's one of those forgotten shorts that with a thousand channels to choose from, nobody airs on TV. But then there's youtube--thank God. Ladies and Gentleman, Leon "Rubberlegs" Errol in "Gem Jams".

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  1. Wow! Interesting! It's kinda funny though. :)

  2. Maltin also wrote THE most authoritative book ever about film & TV animation, "Of Mice and Magic". Through him I learned of, and learned to love, the Fleischer Brothers studio, whose artistry was at times on a par with Disney, only done on paltry budgets and insane deadlines. If you've never seen them, check out the Fleischers' Popeye shorts, like "Popeye Meets Sinbad" or "Popeye Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves". Or any of their Betty Boops, although the ones with the roto-scoped Cab Calloway are my favorites. (Forget Jessica Rabbit. I still got it bad for Betty Boop.)

    Those who know Leonard Maltin only through his TV movie review shows don't know him at all. He is a gifted film scholar and writer.

    Now thanks to you, Raymond, I'll have to troll through the virtual racks of EBay to try to find "The Great Movie Shorts" or "Movie Comedy Teams".

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