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TopBilled

Maltin: On the money or off-target?

100 posts in this topic

 

Our local paper had two stars for *The Long Night* also. Not sure if they were using Maltin's guide or someone else's. Rosebette, I'm so glad you enjoyed this *FOUR-STAR* movie. MissGoddess had recommended it highly the previous time it was shown.

 

Although if you're not interested in richly drawn characters, great acting, superb photography, and amazing direction, you might find it tedious.

 

 

 

 

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On the flip side of the "two sentence review" coin, has anyone else here ever read a film/music/tv review in Time magazine that was six paragraphs long and chock full of $5 words, only to have not a damn clue whether the reviewer liked, loved or hated the damn thing when you were done?

 

(I haven't read Time in years, but I know it used to be a real problem.)

 

Pauline Kael and Libby Gelman-Wexler are the only two critics I take seriously...Oh, and Jay Sherman.

 

ps- Maltin gave Roger Corman's The Undead THREE stars. I don't know if it's offensive to use this word or not, but that movie is ****.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Aug 10, 2011 2:01 PM

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If you like Maltin, that's okay (because it does seem like you are arguing in favor of his reviews to some extent). We all have our favorite reviewers/critics.

 

The length of the review was not the issue. It was his wording. He (or a staff member) said THE OTHER LOVE was not convincing. I didn't feel it had to be convincing, plot-wise, to make a point about living life to the fullest. Of course, writers, directors and performers will play up the drama to sell movie tickets. But there are themes in place, messages the filmmakers are trying to convey to audiences. I don't feel as if Maltin always considers the theme. He seems to focus on the performance and plot (usually he will give something two and a half stars over two stars if he feels the performance bolstered the plot). But as a work of art, it is more than plot and performance.

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TopBilled, I am sorry I did not make myself clear in my last post. I went out of my way to say that I am not a fan of Leonard Maltin's, nor am I one of his detractors. ( Hey, why can't we say "anti-fan" ? I like it, I may start using it...)

What I said regarding my own opinion of him was this: ( to quote myself) :

"...Now, I'm not a fan of Maltin's, but neither do I detest him as many seem to do. I'm benignly indifferent to him. This is not a big defence of Maltin's film critiquing ability."

 

Having reiterated that, I will also reiterate that I neither agreed nor disagreed with what he said about the movie in question ( which I haven't even seen - *The Other Love*, is it? ), Perhaps he was misguided or didn't "get" it, that seems to be what you are saying. Quite possibly.

But what I'm saying is, it's unrealistic to claim one is "reviewing" a movie in one mini-paragraph. Those little "critiques" are not even that, not even "critiques" or "reviews". They are, as I said, merely tiny little information pieces offering data regarding director, cast, date, and genre. The "stars" given the film, along with whatever comments accompany the piece, are almost irrelevant, as it is impossible to give any kind of intelligent or informative review of a film - or anything else for that matter - in a three sentence "blurb."

Maybe it would be more practical, although less fun ( for him) for Maltin or any self-proclaimed movie guide expert to simply provide information such as I listed above in their guides, and save the reviews for longer books or the internet.

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I am wondering if those mini-critiques of his are boiled down from his lengthier film reviews...?

 

Does anyone know where we can find his full-length reviews?

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I just read a wonderful article on Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy entitles "Comedy Goes Down the Toilet". A really great article on why the raunchiness is comedies now is just getting out of hand. He's definitely on the money on this one!

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Some of those raunchy comedies make gobs of money at the box office. As long as people buy tickets to see them, Hollywood will make them.

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Just looked at the schedule entry for Billy Wilder's 1951 borderline- noir masterpiece Ace in the Hole aka The Big Carnival which is coming on tonight (9/13/2011) at 10:00, I think it's a rare showing, and if ye have not seen it: do not miss it.

 

It is a four star movie, pretty much flawless (and believe me, I am as nit-picky as they come)

 

Maltin gives it three stars. Same as Roger Corman's The Undead

 

The man is a MORON

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Sep 13, 2011 4:20 PM to add even more contempt for what a f***ing moron, stooge Leonard Maltin is.

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Maltin only gave ** (two stars) to I WALK ALONE, and I vehemently disagree. Almost any run-of the mill film gets ** 1/2 (two and a half stars) from him. That seems to be his most prevalent rating.

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I have a soft spot for Leonard because his book, *Movie Comedy Teams* back in the early 1970's lead me to descover a lot of wonderful films. However, I have lost a lot of my respect for him over the years because a: he has often "adjusted" the reviews in his book when pressured to outside forces such as an overbearing fan base (for *Star Trek: the Motion Picture *about which he said that a big screen version of Gilligan's Island woould have been better) or a film's overwhelming box office success (for *Smokey and the Bandit* which he originally called "embarassingly bad"). Both those films magically went from one and a half star ratings to two and a half and three stars from one edition of Maltin's Guide to the next, and I find it hard to believe that Leonard just magically changed his mind about those two films in such a brief period of time. Especially since there are many other films that he dismisses in his book which have seemed to weathered the test of time far better than those two, and yet they continue to recieve pans in Maltin's book. If you believe something to be true and write it down -- fine, but if you change your opinion just because someone else tells you to, rather than having a true reassesment of the work, then you are not being a critic or historian, you're just being another cog in Hollywood's publicity machine. And maybe that's what Leonard thinks he is now. But even more unforgivable is b: Leonard has printed several "facts" in some of his books which are flat out WRONG! For example: in his book *Movie Comedy Teams* he describes a whole scene in the 1931 film *Fifty Million Frenchmen* where he says the comedy team of Olsen and Johnson try to insult an American tourist with some risque French toys. So it was a big surprise when I finally saw the film on TCM a few years ago; oh, the scene is there all right, but Olsen and Johnson are nowhere in sight (it's the film's leading man who is in the scene). The point it that if Leonard is willing to print something so flagrently incorrect, it leads me to believe that he either has never seen the film (which is hard to see even now -- still, if he hasn't, he shouldn't be commenting on it), or is just unbelievably sloppy. And that's unfortunatly become the standard for most film reviewing in this country. It's sad, because I believe that Maltin really does love movies, but has just been overwhelmed by the fact that he has become something of a brand name in the review business.

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I don't think many people have kind thoughts about Mr. Maltin...invariably, his comments veer to the negative, and it usually offends some fan of some movie.

 

I could not believe that he refused to rate an upcoming Edward G. Robinson film. (Kay Francis shares lead billing.)

 

Come on...zero??? Isn't that a bit harsh. Surely EGR's presence would automatically raise any film to at least one star, even if the script and direction were bad.

 

It's his review for I LOVED A WOMAN.

 

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/573/I-Loved-a-Woman/

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It's even harsher in the book version, where it's listed as a BOMB.

Perhaps it was so bad, even Robinson couldn't save it. I don't know

because I've never seen it. One thing to keep in mind when comparing

ratings is that we don't know if Maltin wrote it or someone else did. I

usually like reading Maltin's brief take on a film, but I take his views

with a grain of salt, just like any other movie critic.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Maltin only gave ** (two stars) to I WALK ALONE, and I vehemently disagree. Almost any run-of the mill film gets ** 1/2 (two and a half stars) from him. That seems to be his most prevalent rating.

Well, if it's run of the mill, then it should only get 2 & 1/2 stars.

 

Man, you guys are a tough crowd. You don't like anybody doing anything unless his initials are RO!(ha ha)

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I wonder if Maltin actually saw I LOVED A WOMAN. If he had, he could not help but see the similarities to CITIZEN KANE in the story.

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Sometimes he gets it right, but many other times he doesn't. He definitely has a tendency to overrate any movie from the 30s or 40s (it's rare for him to go lower than 3 stars for those). And then there's his truly awful ratings: 1.5 for Blade Runner and 2.0 for Taxi Driver and The Shining.

 

I'm going to be totally honest here, and I'm not trolling in the least: I definitely think 30s and 40s movies do have a tendency to get vastly overrated, and a large number of them are vastly overrated. I can't stand musicals, and melodramas are boring, dreary, and bordering on unintentionally goofy at times.

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Which role would you cast him in for a movie:

A) A wise and knowledgeable counselor whose judgement is always trusted?

B) A used car salesman?

C) A playground lurker who gives candy to little boys?

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I would definitely cast him as A, which has nothing to do with whether I agree with his reviews. He's not oily enough to be a movie used car salesman. As for C, Barry Fitzgerald would always be my top choice.

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>I wonder if Maltin actually saw I LOVED A WOMAN. If he had, he could not help but see the similarities to CITIZEN KANE in the story.

 

I agree, clore. I also think UPPER WORLD, with Warren William, Mary Astor and Ginger Rogers is a precursor for KANE, and I have no doubt that Herman Mankiewicz borrowed heavily from UPPER WORLD and I LOVED A WOMAN and that Welles went along for the ride.

 

The piano playing scene with EGR and Kay Francis in I LOVED A WOMAN is shamelessly stolen by Mankiewicz and Welles and inserted into the get-to-know-each-other bit between Kane and Susan Alexander. There is a similar scene in UPPER WORLD, too.

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Most of the time Maltin is on target. Two exceptions come to mind immediately. NIGHT AND THE CITY and APACHE.

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OK, I'm braced for my whippin'....but here goes-

 

When you're discussing rating movies with 3 sentences & a 1-5 stars system, it's going to be limiting. It's a GUIDE, not a bible. Maltin is rating films that may be viewed by all sorts of people; old ladies, kids, trailer folk, inner city conservatives, all races/creeds, etc.

 

Some people like/don't like musicals while others like/dislike futuristic scifi and some people enjoy/hate cute morality tales.

I hate violence, so for ME, Taxi Driver IS a 2 star movie, it didn't make much sense, the flow was terrible, etc.

I very much dislike The Grapes of Wrath, but it deserves a 4 star rating for _most_ viewers.

You shouldn't discount a GUIDE just because you don't always agree with it. You alone aren't the entire demographic.

 

You have to rate the film standing on it's own, not in relation to the popularity of the subject or how it relates to other films. If a film can transcend genres and EVERYONE can like it (like The Wizard of Oz or Singin' In The Rain) it is undeniably a 5 star movie.

 

And wow-I was at someone else's house and read from their inept video guide...made Maltin's seem like a bible.

 

4-whip.gif

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