Leonard Maltin has made a career for himself out of his love of movies, starting as an unpaid freelance writer for fan zines at the age of 13, His latest book, Hooked on Hollywood, has the subtitle “Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom,” which sounds like it might be a memoir, and after reading Maltin's Introduction, that is certainly a book I would want to read by him. Instead, this is a archival collection of articles and interviews, some of which originally appeared in the magazine Film Fan Monthly and Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy newsletter.
Maltin takes readers on a deep dive into Classic Hollywood. The book opens with the chapter “Hollywood Featurettes,” starting with a look at “All the Music of Casablanca” where he details how he “set out to learn more about the [film's] score.” His detective work took him to the Warner Bros. Archives at USC and he was able to get insight from the studio's head of production Hal Willis through memos that appear in Rudy Behlmer's Inside Warner Bros. 1935-1951. Maltin covers the making of the films Blues of the Night (1941), On Your Toes (1939), and Young and Beautiful (1934). He also looks at silent-film stars who found their way to television and Hollywood's long tradition of remakes.
A large portion of the book is devoted to interviews and from a good variety of people. For every well-known name such as Burgess Meredith and Joan Blondell, there are lesser-known actors like George O'Brien and Madge Evans yet Maltin treats them all with the same level of respect and allows them to tell their fascinating stories.
He also recognizes the importance of those behind the camera as well so readers get to hear from the likes of screenwriter Anita Loos, who wrote for D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks; producer Robert Youngson, who made compilation films such as The Golden Age of Comedy (1957) featuring clips from films by Mack Sennett and Hal Roach; and director of television and film Leslie H. Martinson, whose baseball background helped his entry into MGM.
Hooked on Hollywood might not be for the causal film fan, but for those that have been hooked deeply, especially by the Classic era, it's a compelling read.