Category Archives: Film

Leonard Maltin with “The Last Laugh”

How the Jews Invented Hollywood—and Shaped the American Dream

In this fascinating keynote speech, Leonard Maltin draws on his vast knowledge of movie history to share the story of how immigrant Jews became movie moguls who sold America an idealized, non-ethnic image of itself. 

FILM: THE LAST LAUGH  The world’s foremost comedians debate the outer limits of comedy and subjective taste in THE LAST LAUGH, an exploration of the taboo topic of Holocaust humor and the implications for free speech.

Is a tragedy on the scale of the Holocaust ever an appropriate subject for comedy? Filmmaker Ferne Pearlstein puts the question to a pantheon of funny people, including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and Harry Shearer, as well as Holocaust survivors and prominent Jewish leaders. Mixing levity with deeply philosophical themes, an intriguing conversation emerges over where to draw the line when it comes to jokes about the Holocaust and other so-called untouchable subjects. Interviews are augmented with movie clips, comedic stage acts, as well as seized Nazi footage of cabarets performed by prisoners inside concentration camps.

Star-studded, provocative and thoroughly entertaining, THE LAST LAUGH dares to ask prickly questions about the limits of subversive humor and censorship. (Run-time: 88 minutes)

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight.

He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies, and hosts the weekly podcast Maltin on Movies with Baron Vaughn on the Earwolf network.

His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia.

He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He is the recipient of awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, George Eastman House, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International.

Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?)