When I started to think about writing my review for Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen the first thing that came to my mind was whether to actually discuss Maltin’s choices of movies. After a long deliberation I’ve decided that I don’t want to say which movies he picked. Maltin in the Preface states:
“… I love movies and I’ve seen a great many years watching, writing and thinking about them. Like any critic, I see more bad films than good, but the best part of my job is leading people to worthwhile movies that they might otherwise overlook.”
151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen is not meant to list the entire collection of unheard of movies but instead a smaller eclectic listing of titles which are mostly from the past few decades and are easily available to those who look. Each film receives a medium length (1-2 page) treatment where Maltin covers why the film is worth checking out. Some of his choices for films are based off of the importance the film in the history of film while in others he talks about the performances of the actors or the excellent story being told.
I am not going to say that I agree with all of Maltin’s movies as being “best that you’ve never heard of” but can see why he selected the majority that he did. Many of his picks are wonderful movies that really should have received more attention than they have so far gotten. A few of them made me wonder what he was thinking originally but once I read their write up I could see why he picked them. I might not agree with him but I am sure there are people who will be quite happy that Maltin is highlighting a movie they love.
So, is Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen worth the read? I definitely think so. This book fits nicely between my Scarecrow Movie Guide and 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. 1001 is a pretty daunting book to pick up but it covers so many movies in detail that I love it. Scarecrow is fun to browse through as it has such short write-ups but there really are so many titles in it that I get lost and never remember the ones that are really worth seeing. Maltin’s book really does hit a nice middle ground. It provides enough information on each of the 151 movies that I can’t help but be intrigued and curious to check them out while still being perfect for picking up and skimming through just for an idea of what to seek out when I have a few bucks to spend on a DVD from Amazon.
I’d like to leave this review in your hands with two things. First off, I have seen only 17 of the movies listed. While I am sure there are many of you who have seen more, I can guarantee that this book will point you towards at least a few movies you have only slightly heard of that will definitely be worth checking out. Secondly, Maltin in his preface also talks about his goal in writing this book and I can’t help but feel a kinship in that for Leonard Maltin’s 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen really does mirror one of our goals of the writers for Row Three.
“My goal is simple: to introduce you to unfamiliar films and whet your appetite to see them. I define “unfamiliar” as any movie that failed to find a large audience. While that includes some major studio releases, most of the selections in this volume are independent or foreign films, including documentaries.”
I can’t think of a better goal for a book about movies. Maltin has pointed to many gaps in my film watching and I tend to take him up on the chance to fill those gaps in.