My well-loved copy of the Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide (ISBN-13: 978-0-4522-8620-7) is a familiar sight in my apartment. Unlike most books in my personal library, it is not shelved amongst other tomes. It is often found in a convenient spot; on the sofa, next to my computer, near the TV or on the coffee table. Convenience is key and I take supreme pleasure in thumbing through its pages and poring over the lenthy list of films referenced within. And it is, at all times, accompanied by a red felt pen.
This book is very much a part of my film-viewing experience. With my red pen in hand, I document films seen by drawing a star next to a particular selection. The back of the book boasts an index of stars and directors with their films listed below their respective names. I always make sure to underline which of their films I've seen to get a better idea of how familiar I am with their work. This all might seem quite mundane and boring. However, watching films is rarely a physical, tangible experience. It is all in the mind. Being able to connect something physical to the mental is supremely reassuring to me which is why this methodical documentation enhances the experience to me.
I highly recommend this guide for any of you out there who are classic film fans. It boasts an impressive list of films and enough of a synopsis of each film to either pique the interest (or serve as a refresher). However, this book is not without some flaws. Obscure silents or lesser-known '30s comedies are noticeably missing [much to my dismay I couldn't find Lady of the Night (1925) or There's Always a Woman (1938) ]. Also, the cut-off is 1960, so I'm at a loss to document my favorite '60s films, of which I have many. And because the book was published in 2005 and Plume has no immediate plans to update its contents, listed DVD availability is very out-of-date.
Yet this guide, even with its flaws, is my ultimate classic movie companion and one of my most prized posessions.