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How many of Maltin's '151 Best Movies You've Never Seen' have you watched?

Posted Friday, March 5, 2010 at 2:58 PM Central
Last updated Friday, March 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM Central

by Tim Briscoe

One of the things we like to do around here is spotlight smaller films that you may have overlooked. Apparently Leonard Maltin likes to do the same thing.

The legendary film critic recently had his undiscovered picks published in a book titled Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen. He recognizes some really obscure films, most of them contemporary.

Maltin -- who you'll probably recognize from his trademark glasses and salt-and-pepper beard -- lists his choices alphabetically and talks about each selection for a page or two in this 323-page tome.

As if discovering the book's picks didn't entice you enough, the back cover hints at several of its selections by way of trivia questions. Here is a sampling with links to the movie being mentioned.

  • In what unsung comedy will you find Michael Douglas giving his all-time best performance? ANSWER
  • What John Wayne movie was out of circulation for 30 years -- and still qualifies as a sleeper? ANSWER
  • What debut film from the director of The Dark Knight creates palpable chills -- despite a shoestring budget and a no-name case? ANSWER
  • What film won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and then fell off the radar? ANSWER
  • What farcical comedy includes such real-life characters as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger? ANSWER
  • What terrific Heath Ledger movie was released the same month as Brokeback Mountain -- and flopped? ANSWER

I first became aware of this book via comedian Doug Benson's great I Love Movies [iTunes link] (reviewed previously). Anyone who's familiar with the podcast will know that Doug likes to play a movie trivia challenge affectionately called "The Leonard Maltin Game." Benson picks a movie from Maltin's annual movie guide and his comedian friends have to name the film by its cast members -- from least notable to starring role.

Recently Mr. Maltin himself was a surprise guest on Doug's show. Leonard showed off his movie expertise and was an all-around good sport to Benson's light ribbing.

In a subsequent episode Doug claimed to having seen 20 of Maltin's 151. That's an amazing number. Especially given the fact that I've watched a whopping four: Brick, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and Millions.

I challenge you to pick up the book and top Doug's total of 20 movies seen. Maltin's title is just that apt.