Starstruck by Leonard Maltin: A Must-Read Memoir

Leonard Maltin in Going Attractions

Starstruck, the long-awaited memoir from film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, is going to be the must-read book of the year for film buffs.

Starstruck by Leonard Maltin
Starstruck by Leonard Maltin (GoodKnight Books).

If you’re like me, you could listen to Leonard Maltin talk all day. I certainly know that I can. He’s the type of person who not only knows what he’s doing but he puts in the research as well. It’s one of the reasons why I admire Leonard Maltin. Getting the opportunity to meet the legendary film historian is one of the biggest highlights of my first Sundance. I remember walking to a SXSW panel in 2018 and before I knew it, Leonard was walking next to me on my left. Speaking of SXSW, Louis Black comes up a few times in the book. But enough about me, let’s talk about Leonard.

What I know from after reading the advance review copy is that Maltin revised the book since I first read it in June. Maltin made revisions following the ARC being sent out to reviewers. But hey, that’s what it means to write a book, right? Whether it’s the galley or final copy, you can tell that Maltin knows his stuff. After all, he’s one of the best in the business. If not for him, some Disney treasures might not have seen the light of day! Oh yes, he shares Disney stories, too.

Where some people will interview talent and filmmakers for projects that they don’t like, Maltin writes that he needs to like a film before agreeing to do an interview. And if he doesn’t like a film, well, he never has to sit through it again. This isn’t a bad policy at all.

One thing I’ve noticed from reading this book is that Maltin just happens to be at the right place at the right time. Whether it’s meeting his wife or writing the Movie Guide or getting the Entertainment Tonight opportunity, nothing in his life was planned. Or even the film class that he teaches at the University of Southern California. There are no shortages of stories about this class and the guests he’s brought in over the years. To be a fly on that wall!

He shares some interesting anecdotes about his encounters over the years–many of which would not happen without working for E.T.! Others, though, would not happen without sending off fan mail. This was back when Maltin was running a magazine when he was growing up. The Maltin on Movies podcast has a rather fascinating history, all of which is documented in his book. There’s also fascinating material about MaltinFest including the time Grae Drake’s husband offered to dress up like a gorilla. This isn’t something you read about every day!

Listen, I can go on and on about the book. I’ve read a lot of books during the pandemic but Leonard Maltin’s memoir was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I’m not just saying this because it’s being released on my birthday of all days. But anyway, the book certainly lived up to my expectations–so much that I finished the ARC in less than a day. That speaks to how quick of a pace that this book has. Honestly, Maltin shares so many stories that a simple review cannot even do this book justice.

If you’re a film fan, Starstruck is going to be essential for your bookshelf.

Starstruck is now available in bookstores.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.