Boasting a combination of popular classics, modern hits and forgotten films of historic significance, the Library of Congress announced its annual list of 25 films to be added to the National Film Registry.
“The annual selection of films to the National Film Registry involves far more than the simple naming of cherished and important films to a prestigious list,” stated Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “The Registry should not be seen as ‘The Kennedy Center Honors,’ ‘The Academy Awards,’ or even ‘America’s Most Beloved Films.’ Rather, it is an invaluable means to advance public awareness of the richness, creativity and variety of American film heritage, and to dramatize the need for its preservation.
“The selection of a film recognizes its importance to American movie and cultural history and to history in general. The Registry stands among the finest summations of more than a century of wondrous American cinema.”
Making the list year are such popular films as Mel Brooks’ comedy Blazing Saddles (1974), Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Notorious (1946) and 1976’s Rocky. Films of historical significance on the list include The Big Trail (1930), which launched John Wayne’s career, 1929’s St. Louis Blues, an early soundie which features the only known film footage of “Queen Of The Blues” Bessie Smith and director John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) which ushered in the wave of 1980s slasher films.
The earliest film named this year is the 1913 Traffic In Souls, a sensationalistic expose of “white slavery,” i.e. prostitution. Early Chinese-American contributions to cinema are represented by the previously thought lost The Curse Of Quon Gwon (1916-1917) and Daughter Of Shanghai (1937) which stars Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star. Three other silent films also made the Registry- Tess Of The Storm Country (1914), the film that made Mary Pickford Hollywood’s first superstar, Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command (1928) and Flesh And The Devil (1927), the first pairing between silent film superstars John Gilbert and Greta Garbo.
Documentaries placed on the Registry this year include In The Streets (1948) which chronicled life in post-World War II Harlem and Drums Of Winter (1988), which examines the culture of the Yup’ik Eskimos of Emmonak, Alaska. Also named to this list is Harry Smith’s experimental film Early Abstractions #1-5, 7, 10 (1939-1956).
The National Film Preservation Act, passed in 1988 by the Library of Congress, established the National Film Preservation Board. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian of Congress is tasked with choosing 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant films to be added to the National Film Registry each year. Started in 1989, the titles announced yesterday bring the total number of films on the Registry to 450. This year’s films were selected from a list of nearly 1,000 titles. Once films are named to the Registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved under the terms of the Preservation Act, whether through the Library’s own film preservation program or in collaboration with other archives or film studios.
The films on the Registry range from silent classics Intolerance (1919) and It (1927) to popular blockbusters like Star Wars (1977) and Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) to historically important film footage such as the Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage (1937) and Abraham Zapruder’s infamous home movie footage of the John F. Kennedy assassination. The complete list of films on the National Film Registry can be found here.
The complete list of films added to the Registry this year is as follows-
- Applause (1929)
- The Big Trail (1930)
- Blazing Saddles (19740
- The Curse Of Quon Gwon (1916-17)
- Daughter Of Shanghai (1937)
- Drums of Winter (Uksuum Cauyai) (1988)
- Early Abstractions #1-5, 7,10 (1939-56)
- Fargo (1996)
- Flesh And The Devil (1927)
- Groundhog Day (1993)
- Halloween (1978)
- In The Street (1948)
- The Last Command (1928)
- Notorious (1946)
- Red Dust (1932)
- Reminiscences Of A Journey to Lithuania (1971-72)
- Rocky (1976)
- sex, lies and videotape (1989)
- Siege (1940)
- St. Louis Blues (1929)
- The T.A.M.I. Show (1964)
- Tess Of The Storm Country (1914)
- Think Of Me First As A Person (1960-75)
- A Time Out Of War (1954)
- Traffic In Souls (1913)