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25 new films added to National Film Registry

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25 new films added to National Film Registry

Old 12-28-05, 02:21 PM
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25 new films added to National Film Registry

From The Hollywood Reporter:

National Film Registry adds 25 films

By Brooks Boliek
WASHINGTON -- Films that helped usher in a new era of censorship, changed the way Hollywood thought about its audience, provided a firsthand look at one of the nation's great disasters and introduced the world to the word "gnarly" are among the 25 the Librarian of Congress named to the National Film Registry on Tuesday.

Among the films selected by James H. Billington for inclusion in the registry are the Barbara Stanwyck starrer "Baby Face," which helped usher in the Hays Code; "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," which took audience participation to another level; a documentary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which presaged coverage of Hurricane Katrina by a century; and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which gave the world "gnarly buds."

"The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best' American films ever made or the most famous, but they are films that continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic significance," Billington said.

Billington made his selections from more than 1,000 titles nominated by the public after lengthy discussions with the library's motion picture division staff and members of the National Film Preservation Board.

Congress created the registry in 1989 to preserve films of cultural, historical and artistic significance. Selection in the National Film Registry singles out films for preservation either in the Library of Congress' own archive or facilities elsewhere.

Big studio releases are usually cared for at their own archives or other variants of public and private film archives. Entry in the registry often puts a priority on the films named; if they aren't being preserved, their inclusion often moves them up on the list.

Outrage over racy content in the 1933 film "Baby Face" helped usher in the Production Code (also knowns as the Hays Code in honor of its enforcer, Will Hays, who headed the precursor to the MPAA), which imposed a strict moral code for mainstream Hollywood films. Former MPAA chief Jack Valenti junked the code, replacing it with the now-familiar ratings system, in the late 1960s.

Warner Bros. cut some of the more objectionable scenes from "Baby Face" in order to release it. An uncensored version was discovered last year, and that was the one selected by the registry.

"Rocky Horror" reinvented the midnight movie and created a cult following as the audience became as much a part of the film as the actors onscreen.

"It changed the whole movie experience as the audience became part of the show for good or bad," National Film Preservation Board staff coordinator Steve Leggett said.

The oldest film included in the registry this year is a documentary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The disaster was one of the first recorded on film, Leggett said.

Also included are some of Hollywood's biggest hits of the 1970s and early '80s, including "The Sting," "The French Connection" and "Fast Times."

"In 'The Sting,' you had two actors at the top of their game," Leggett said. "It was just huge and really brought back Scott Joplin's music. It was a great con scheme, and Robert Shaw, who unfortunately died young, played kind of the bad guy."

While "Fast Times" might seem an odd choice in the same year that "The Music Man" was selected, Leggett says the film was significant culturally.

"There were tons of pretty good '80s teen films with 'Risky Business,' 'Sixteen Candles' and the like," he said. "But this one was kind of the first. It also introduced us to Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli."

This year's list seems to have an underlying theme as several films selected have race-based themes.

"A Raisin in the Sun" is the film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's classic play about a lower-middle-class black family. The legendary cast is a veritable who's who of civil rights-era actors, including Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil and Ruby Dee.

The list also includes documentaries like "Hoop Dreams." The groundbreaking, multiyear account of two inner-city Chicago teens trying to win college basketball scholarships provides an intimate and comprehensive account of the life and limited options of lower-class black families in America.

Documentaries exploring race relations named to the registry include:

  Bill Jersey's 1966 cinema verite film "A Time for Burning," about a Lutheran minister who is asked to resign from his church after he attempts to get black and white parishioners in Omaha, Neb., to talk to each other.

  "Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940." A set of field recordings made by a pioneering ethnographic film team led by acclaimed author (and innovative anthropologist/folklorist) Zora Neale Hurston, Jane Belo and others. The library said the footage is especially worthy because synchronous sound recordings were made, capturing singing, instrumental music, sermons and religious services among this South Carolina Gullah community. The audio recordings recently have been rediscovered and are being reunited with the film footage.

  The 1910 "Jeffries-Johnson World's Championship Boxing Contest." The fight was a signal moment in U.S. race relations, and this recording of the July 4 heavyweight title fight between champion Jack Johnson and former champion James J. Jeffries became the most widely discussed and written about motion picture made before 1915's "The Birth of a Nation." Congress attempted to ban the film from wide distribution.

"Now that we're at 425 films, we're getting more of the less famous films," said Betsy A. McClane, author of "A New History of Documentary Film."

"It seems like the librarian is picking films that address race at different times in America," she said. "It's one of the critical issues of our country, and the choices for the list show how we've handled race relations in film."

A complete list of National Film Registry selections follows:

1. "Baby Face" (1933)
2. "The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man" (1975)
3. "The Cameraman" (1928)
4. "Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940" (1940)
5. "Cool Hand Luke" (1967)
6. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982)
7. "The French Connection" (1971)
8. "Giant" (1956)
9. "H2O" (1929)
10. "Hands Up" (1926)
11. "Hoop Dreams" (1994)
12. "House of Usher" (1960)
13. "Imitation of Life" (1934)
14. "Jeffries-Johnson World's Championship Boxing Contest" (1910)
15. "Making of an American" (1920)
16. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)
17. "Mom and Dad" (1944)
18. "The Music Man" (1962)
19. "Power of the Press" (1928)
20. "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961)
21. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975)
22. "San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906" (1906)
23. "The Sting" (1973)
24. "A Time for Burning" (1966)
25. "Toy Story" (1995)
Old 12-28-05, 04:10 PM
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some good stuff there this time. Glad to see rocky horror, the sting, and toy story for sure.

wonder how they are storing toy story...on composite film or from the digital source.
Old 12-28-05, 04:15 PM
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Good lord. I almost had a heart attack. I read #9 as Halloween: H20.
Old 12-28-05, 05:28 PM
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"Fast Times at Ridgemont High"
Old 12-28-05, 05:42 PM
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Hoop Dreams. Nice.
Old 12-28-05, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
Good lord. I almost had a heart attack. I read #9 as Halloween: H20.
Yeah, that'd be crazy. They already put that one on last year.

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