Thursday, November 22, 2007

Time to Lobby the Library of Congress About the National Film Registry

Happy Thanksgiving!

In one month the Library of Congress will announce the 25 films that become part of the National Film Registry. Last year's list spanned the years 1913-96, and included: Red Dust, Notorious, Rocky, Blazing Saddles, Halloween, and Fargo. Also included were historically important films such as The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916-17), the earliest known Chinese-American film; a film about the Yup'ik Eskimo: documentary Drums of Winter (1988); and St. Louis Blues (1929), a two-reeler featuring the only film recording of Bessie Smith, "Queen of the Blues."

The National Film Registry was begun in 1989, and there are currently 450 films on the list. Although the obscure films and historically important documentaries fulfill the mandate of the Registry, there does seem to be a movement, at least in recent years, to include those fictional feature films that are great films (more of a Sight and Sound approach), and not just historically or culturally important ones. For example, Groundhog Day made the list last year, but there are Oscar-winning Best Pictures not on the list.

You can e-mail your list to the Library of Congress and they'll consider your choices. Link to their website.

Below are my picks for what should be added to this year's list (I only do the narrative feature films: I'll let the Library of Congress decide on the obscure works). To me, the film that most needs to be added above all is Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

My choices, by year:

1910s and 20s:
A Tale of Two Cities (1917)
Male and Female (1919)
The Love Light (1921)
The Sheik (1921)
The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg (1927)

The Guardsman (1931)
Queen Christina (1933)
The Merry Widow (1934)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Holiday (1938)

Bambi (1942)
First Comes Courage (1943)
Lifeboat (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

Strangers on a Train (1951)
Limelight (1952)
Stalag 17 (1953)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Killing (1956)

Lolita (1962)
The Birds (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Front (1976)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Arthur (1981)
The World According to Garp (1982)
The Terminator (1984)
Back to the Future (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

Dances with Wolves (1990)
JFK (1991)
El Mariachi (1992)
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Ed Wood (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Before Sunrise (1995)
Sling Blade (1996)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Titanic (1997)

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