30 December 2008

National Film Registry: The '08 Class

The Librarian of Congress announced the 2008 selections for the National Film Registry this morning.

Most readers here know my fervent devotion to the registry, which I have been slowly working my way through. The registry isn't exactly intended to be a best-of list, although invariably the films we want to preserve for future generations happen to be great or overlooked jewels – "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." (Citizen Kane and Casablanca, for example, are obvious examples of beloved fiction films, but the registry also includes historic news-related films, like the Zapruder film and Hindenburg disaster footage.) The board has been preserving films since 1989, and with today's additions, the registry now has 500 entries.

This year's selections were, in chronological order:

White Fawn's Devotion (1910)
The Perils of Pauline (1914)
One Week (1920)
Foolish Wives (1922)
So's Your Old Man (1926)
Hallelujah! (1929)
The Invisible Man (1933)
Sergeant York (1941)
• George Stevens World War II footage (1943-1946)
The Killers (1946)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Disneyland Dream (1956)
A Face in the Crowd (1957)
On the Bowery (1957)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Flower Drum Song (1961)
The March (1964)
The Pawnbroker (1965)
In Cold Blood (1967)
Deliverance (1972)
No Lies (1973)
Free Radicals (1979)
The Terminator (1984)
Water and Power (1989)

You can compare this list to my nominations from November if you'd like, but let me say I went 0-for-25. I was slightly underwhelmed at first by these selections, although the more I look at it, the more I think this list is very fascinating. The board's commitment to diversity shines through in these titles, including films from Erich von Stroheim, King Vidor, Buster Keaton, John Huston, Nicholas Ray, James Whale, and Howard Hawks. There are a few historic documentaries (Stevens' WWII footage, The March, the home movies from the opening of Disneyland), a few experimental films (Water and Power and Free Radicals), a good balance of silent and sound, a mix of genres (including a serial, The Perils of Pauline), and ethnically diverse productions (Flower Drum Song, Hallelujah!, and White Fawn's Devotion).

4 comments:

NoirishCity.... 30 December, 2008  

Hi! T.S.,
I am so glad to see that at least 2 of my 50 choices made the cut!...
Hemingway's The Killers (1946)
and Huston's The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
I should have added Nick Ray's
Johnny Guitar (1954) to my list (In the "world of noir" this film fit into the category of a "western" film noir.) Oh! well, at least it made it onto the National Film Registry list.
Tks, For letting us know the results!
dcd ;-)

Tony Dayoub 30 December, 2008  

Nice follow-through on this list that the rest of us so seldomly keep up with, to our own misfortune.

Some interesting movies I'm glad made it on there:
• The Invisible Man (1933)
• Sergeant York (1941)
• The Killers (1946)
• The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
• Johnny Guitar (1954)
• A Face in the Crowd (1957)
• The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
• Flower Drum Song (1961)
• The Pawnbroker (1965)
• In Cold Blood (1967)
• Deliverance (1972)
• The Terminator (1984)

T.S. 31 December, 2008  

@dcd - Ha. I knew you'd enjoy that. The moment I looked at the list I thought I should have banked on some more noirs finding their way onto it. Statistically speaking, you were bound to get one or two.

@Tony - Agreed. It's an eclectic group, and I think they're all worthy in their own ways. Each of the films you cite are good candidates; I'm also glad they picked Keaton's One Week, too. They should just induct all of his silent films, but one at a time will ensure they have plenty to induct for years to come.

Pat 01 January, 2009  

I'm excited to see "Face in the Crowd" on this list. I think it is unusually prescient about the power of mass media and celebrity.

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