Late last week, the National Film Preservation Board made their annual announcement of the 25 new “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant films they will be adding to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. As always, the list is an interesting cross-section of films from the silent era to more modern fare. From the classic Tyrone Power swashbuckler The Mark Of Zorro to The Muppet Movie, from the melodrama of William Wyler’s Jezebel to the pioneering short film/long-form music video Thriller, the Library of Congress moves to preserve the films named as part of the country’s cultural heritage.
After the list, we’ve embedded the short films that made this year’s list-
Dog Day Afternoon, Dir. Sidney Lumet (1975)
The Exiles, Dir. Kent MacKenzie (1961)
Heroes All, Dir. Anthony Young (1920)
Hot Dogs for Gauguin, Dir. Martin Brest (1972)
The Incredible Shrinking Man, Dir. Jack Arnold (1957)
Jezebel, Dir. William Wyler (1938)
The Jungle, Dir. Charlie “Brown” Davis, Jimmy “Country” Robinson, David “Bat” Williams (1967)
The Lead Shoes, Dir. Sidney Peterson (1949)
Little Nemo, Dir. Winsor McCay (1911)
Mabel’s Blunder, Dir. Mabel Normand (1914)
The Mark of Zorro, Dir. Rouben Mamoulian (1940)
Mrs. Miniver, Dir. William Wyler (1942)
The Muppet Movie, Dir. James Frawley (1979)
Once Upon a Time in the West, Dir. Sergio Leone (1968)
Pillow Talk, Dir. Michael Gordon (1959)
Precious Images, Dir. Chuck Workman (1986)
Quasi at the Quackadero, Dir. Sally Cruikshank (1975)
The Red Book, Dir. Janie Geiser (1994)
The Revenge of the Pancho Villa, Dir. Various (1930-36)
Scratch and Crow, Dir. Helen Hill (1995)
Stark Love, Dir. Karl Brown (1927)
The Story of G.I. Joe, Dir. William Wellman (1945)
A Study in Reds, Dir. Miriam Bennett (1932)
Thriller, Dir. John Landis (1983)
Under Western Stars, Dir. Joseph Kane (1938)
Although mostly forgotten by the general public today, Winsor McCay was a popular popular comic strip artist in the early years of the last century. When he turned his prestigious imagination to the burgeoning medium of film, he created this classic, combining live action and animation. The animated portion recalls some of the dream-like quality of his “Little Nemo In Slumberland” comic strip.
Rewatching Chuck Workman’s Precious Images, I am struck by the fact that it took this long for this Acacdemy Award winning short to make the National Film Registry, as this skillfully edited clips of iconic movie moments pretty much encapsulates what the Film Registry is trying to preserve. If you’re looking for a good list of American films you should see, you can do much worse than the ones Workman used for this eight minute piece.
Chuck Workman – Precious images
If Sally Cruikshank’s animation style in the below short looks familiar that’s because she animated the title credits for the 1987 comedy Mannequin and the cartoon segment of Joe Dante’s contribution to the 1983 Twilight Zone anthology film, when young Anthony magically banishes his sister Ethel into the world of television. Here, Cruikshank not only manages to wear the influence of several early classic animators firmly on her sleeve, but manages to mix them into something unique to itself.
Landis’ Thriller may seem a strange choice, but without a doubt it is culturally significant, merging film-making techniques with the emerging music video genre for something that hadn’t been seen before. And yes, the short film version of Thriller did play in theaters in some larger cities around the country.