Saturday , September 26 2020

Into the Vault

The Library of Congress adds 25 films to the National Film Registry – and the winners are:

    Alien (1979)
    All My Babies (1953)
    The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
    Beauty and the Beast (1991)
    The Black Stallion (1979)
    Boyz N the Hood (1991)
    Theodore Case Sound Tests: Gus Visser and His Singing Duck (1925)
    The Endless Summer (1966)
    From Here to Eternity (1953)
    From Stump to Ship (1930)
    Fuji (1974)
    In the Heat of the Night (1967)
    Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925)
    Melody Ranch (1938)
    The Pearl (1948)
    Punch Drunks (1934)
    Sabrina (1954)
    Star Theatre (1901)
    Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
    This Is Cinerama (1952)
    This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
    Through Navajo Eyes (series) (1966)
    Why Man Creates (1968)
    Wild and Wooly (1917)
    Wild River (1960)

What is this?

    Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant motion pictures to the registry. The list is designed to reflect the full breadth and diversity of America’s film heritage, thus increasing public awareness of the richness of American cinema and the need for its preservation. As Billington said, “Our film heritage is America’s living past. It celebrates the creativity and inventiveness of diverse communities and our nation as a whole. By preserving American films, we safeguard a significant element of our cultural history.”

The total of films on the registry is now 350. Some of the films are described thusly:

    This year’s selections span the 20th century from 1901 to 1991, and encompass films ranging from Hollywood classics to lesser-known, but still vital, works. Among films named this year: “Alien,” the influential, spine-tingling sci-fi film where one learns that “in space no one can hear you scream”; “All My Babies,” George Stoney’s landmark educational film used to educate midwives in Georgia and throughout the South; “The Bad and the Beautiful,” featuring Kirk Douglas as a ruthless film producer in one of Hollywood’s most memorable examinations of its culture; “The Black Stallion,” Carroll Ballard’s evocative and visually stunning children’s classic; “Endless Summer,” Bruce Brown’s droll documentary of two surfers and their around-the-world quest for the Perfect Wave that made millions despite an unorthodox distribution strategy; “From Stump to Ship,” a once-forgotten 1930 logging film that has become a touchstone of cultural identity for Maine residents; “Fuji,” Robert Breer’s avant-garde replication (blending techniques of rotoscope, live-action imagery and line drawing) of a train ride past Mt. Fuji; the electrifying 1967 social drama “In the Heat of the Night,” where Sidney Poitier as “Mister Tibbs” solves a crime his way; “Melody Ranch,” one of the best vehicles for Gene Autry as the first singing cowboy; “The Pearl,” a landmark among English-language Mexican classics released for Hispanic audiences in the United States, which features breathtaking cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa; “The Star Theatre,” a dazzling 1901 time-lapse special effects film showing demolition of this New York City theater; “Theodore Case Sound Tests: Gus Visser and his Duck” and “This is Cinerama,” two films illustrating technical innovation in cinema, in addition to being highly entertaining; “This is Spinal Tap,” Rob Reiner’s deft “mockumentary” parody of a fictitious, touring heavy metal band that places its faith in “the amplifier which goes to 11 “; “Through Navajo Eyes,” a pioneering series of anthropological films; “Why Man Creates,” an animated paean to the concept of creativity by legendary film title sequence designer Saul Bass; and “Wild and Wooly,” one of the films which created Douglas Fairbanks’ film persona, this film showcased his hilarious personal odyssey from effete Easterner to courageous, virile Man of the West.

And why do they do it?

    This key component of American cultural history, however, remains a legacy with much already lost or in peril. Billington added: “In spite of the heroic efforts of archives, the motion picture industry and others, America’s film heritage, by any measure, is an endangered species. Fifty percent of the films produced before 1950 and 80-90 percent made before 1920 have disappeared forever. Sadly, our enthusiasm for watching films has proved far greater than our commitment to preserving them. And, ominously, more films are lost each year- through the ravages of nitrate deterioration, color-fading and the recently discovered ‘vinegar syndrome,’ which threatens the acetate-based [safety] film stock on which the vast majority of motion pictures, past and present, have been reproduced.”

    For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved for all time, either through the Library’s massive motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios, and independent filmmakers. The Library of Congress contains the largest collections of film and television in the world, from the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture to the latest feature releases.

Government – this is our – money well spent.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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