National Film Registry 2006: Films Selected

Dec 27, 2006–“Blazing Saddles,” “Fargo,” “Groundhog Day,” “Halloween,” “Notorious,” “Rocky” and “sex, lies and videotape” are among the features selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

The 25 features, announced Wednesday, includes one of the last silent film classics “Flesh and the Devil” (1927), the first on-screen pairing of silent stars John Gilbert and Great Garbo, and 1914’s “Tess of the Storm Country,” which made Mary Pickford a star.

It also features a quartet from the early days of sound: Rouben Mamoullian’s first film “Applause” (1929); Raoul Walsh’s “The Big Trail” (1930), starring a then-unknown John Wayne; Josef von Sternberg’s “The Last Command” (1928), starring Emil Jannings; and “Red Dust,” a steamy 1932 pre-Production Code melodrama starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington made the announcement, which brings the total number of films on the registry to 450. He noted that it’s estimated that 50% of films produced before 1950 and 80% to 90% of those made before 1920 have disappeared.

“The annual selection of films to the National Film Registry involves far more than the simple naming of cherished and important films to a prestigious list,” he said. “The Registry should not be seen as ‘The Kennedy Center Honors,’ ‘The Academy Awards,’ or even ‘America’s Most Beloved Films.’ Rather, it is an invaluable means to advance public awareness of the richness, creativity and variety of American film heritage, and to dramatize the need for its preservation.”

Billington noted that an increasing number of films are lost each year to 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 have been reproduced.

The earliest film on the list is the 1913 selection: “Traffic in Souls,” an expose of white slavery, and the most recent is 1996’s “Fargo.”

A pair of music performance films were tapped — 1929’s “St. Louis Blues,” the only film recording of Bessie Smith,” and 1964’s “The T.A.M.I. Show,” which featured the Rolling Stones and James Brown.

Other films named include a pair that herald early Asian-American cinematic achievements–“The Curse of Quon Gwon” (1916-17), the earliest know Chinese-American feature; and “Daughter of Shanghai” (1937), a thriller starring Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American movie star.

Other slections include half a dozen docus– 1988’s “Drums of the Winter,” set among the Eskimos; seven of Henry Smith’s “Early Abstractions” (1939-56); “In the Street,” a 1948 project set in East Harlem; “Siege,” a 1940 project by Julian Bryan chronicling the German bombardment of Warsaw; “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” (1971-72) by Jonas Mekas; and “Think of Me in the First Person,” a home-movie portrait shot by a father of a son with Down’s Syndrome between 1960 and 1975.

Student film “A Time Out of War,” which won the Oscar for short film in 1954, also made the list.

Billington selected the 25 films after evaluating nearly 1,000 titles nominated by the public. The process included discussions with the Library’s Motion Picture division staff and the National Film Preservation Board.

Congress established the National Film Registry in 1989 and reauthorized the program in April 2005. For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved.

Films selected to the 2006 National Film Registry:

“Applause” (1929)

“The Big Trail” (1930)

“Blazing Saddles” (1974)

“The Curse of Quon Gwon” (1916-17)

“Daughter of Shanghai” (1937)

“Drums of Winter” (1988)

“Early Abstractions #1-5,7,10” (1939-56)

“Fargo” (1996)

“Flesh and the Devil” (1927)

“Groundhog Day” (1993)

“Halloween” (1978)

“In the Street” (1948/52)

“The Last Command” (1928)

“Notorious” (1946)

“Red Dust” (1932)

“Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” (1971-72)

“Rocky” (1976)

“sex, lies and videotape” (1989)

“Siege” (1940)

“St. Louis Blues” (1929)

“The T.A.M.I. Show” (1964)

“Tess of the Storm Country” (1914)

“Think of Me First as a Person” (1960-75)

“A Time Out of War” (1954)

“Traffic in Souls” (1913)