Each year I read the press release list of the films admitted to the National Film Registry and promptly forget them. I guess I've never absorbed just what this does for the films beyond being an obviously prestigious honor. So this year rather than doing the usual read the titles and forget, I stopped, actually took a breath (a rarity on the web), wondered, and googled a bit. I stopped being lazy about it so you don't have to be either. I didn't just list titles below but actual information!
However I am still a bit confused as what the honor actually means beyond admittance into the Library of Congress. If this meant government funding to restore or preserve the films or if it meant an automatic transfer to each new medium that surfaces (VHS to DVD to Blu Ray to whatever is next) so that that film in question never disappears it would be a truly astounding honor. But it doesn't mean this. The National Film Preservation Board which is connected to the National Film Registry does not own the rights and can thus not distribute the films. The honor is also no guarantee of preservation. Film preservation is still a privately funded matter. Hollywood as a whole is fairly disinterested in its own history (except to mine it for remakes) and US politics has always been depressingly anti-arts funding. (Thank the Right Wing of the country for that.)
Here are the 25 new inductees in chronological order of creation. I am ashamed at how few of the I've seen. Should we watch them together?
- The Cry Of The Children (George Nichols, 1912) a short film about child labor
- A Cure for Pokeritis (Laurence Trimble, 1912) a short slapstick comedy
- The Kid (Charles Chaplin, 1921) another Chaplin film for the Registry
- The Iron Horse (1924) a long western starring George O'Brien of Sunrise fame.
- Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s and 1940s) I assume this is the famous tap dancers?
Beloved orphan fawns, globally famous serial killers, and remarkable actress faces, and more after the jump... How many have you seen?
- Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, 1934) a Carole Lombard romantic comedy that is frequently revived in its stage incarnation still.
- Bambi (1942) Disney's mother-killing classic
- The Negro Soldier (Stuart Heisler, 1944) a documentary. The title tells it.
- The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945) which we've already written about.
- The Big Heat (Fritz Lang, 1953) a noir about cops and organized crime
- War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin, 1953) the HG Wells radio story made into a film
- Porgy & Bess (Otto Preminger, 1959) Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the dubbed adaptation of the famous Gershwin opera. I'm dying to see Audra McDonald do this on Broadway. Dying!
- Allures (Jordan Belson, 1961) a short film
- Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963) a documentary about JFK and integration of Alabama schools. I actually have a copy of this one. I guess I should watch.
- Faces (John Cassavettes, 1968) starring Gena Rowlands and nominated for three Oscars
- Growing Up Female (Jim Klein and Julia Reichert, 1971) supposedly the first documentary to emerge from the women's movement. It's about female socialization.
- A Computer Animated Hand (1972) an early computer graphics short. Here it is...
- Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 1975) Carol Kane was best actress nominated for this film. I have always wanted to see this one and for some reason I never have. The 70s saw a few inroads made by female directors.
- I, An Actress (George Kuchar, 1977) a short film
- Norma Rae (Martin Ritt, 1979) "UNION!!!"
- Fake Fruit Factory (1986) a short documentary
- Stand and Deliver (Ramón Menéndez, 1988) was an unusually successful Latino film. Leading man Edward James Olmos, years before his Battlestar Galactica revival, was Best Actor nominated.
- The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) one of the very few modern classics that seems to have few detractors. It's a horror classic and a major Oscar winner. We've written about it.
- El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez, 1992) this low budget hit was a major part of the 90s revolution in indie cinema. Remarkably, I've never seen it though I did see the significantly higher budgeted star driven sequel with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek ;)
- Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) Ugh. I've written about my distaste for this one before.
Have you ever sought out a film from the inductee list? Want to start now?