New to the National Film Registry: ‘Forrest Gump,’ ‘Bambi,’ ‘Stand and Deliver,’ ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘The Lost Weekend,’ ‘Norma Rae,’ and More

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Each year the Librarian of Congress announces 25 titles to be added to the National Film Registry, created in 1988 in response to Ted Turner’s controversial efforts to colorize black and white films.  It is a sort of virtual library, identifying films of particular cultural, artistic, or historical value and significance.  As usual, this year’s National Film Registry list includes some very high profile films like the Oscar-winning “Silence of the Lambs,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Norma Rae,” the Disney animated classic Bambi and some obscure choices like the micro-budget 1977 film, “I, An Actress” and the 1912 silent comedy A Cure for Pokeritis starring then-superstar John Bunny.

I was very pleased to see some of my favorite classic films on the list, including the screwball comedy Twentieth Century with Carole Lombard and John Barrymore (made into a Broadway musical), The Kid with Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan, and Faces from pioneering director John Cassavetes, whose intimate, improvisational films would inspire a generation of filmmakers.  “Growing Up Female” was a breakthrough in its production, point of view, and distribution. Hester Street, by Joan Macklin Silver, superbly evokes the Jewish immigrant experience with a beautifully fresh and open-hearted performance by Carol Kane.  “Porgy and Bess” is controversial for its portrayal of African Americans but the Gershwin music and luminous Dorothy Dandridge and Sammy Davis Jr.’s performance of “It Ain’t Necessarily So” make it a classic.  “The Lost Weekend” has a heartbreaking performance from Ray Milland in one of the first movies about alcoholism.  Of special interest are documentaries about child labor and the politics of desegregation that were influential in form and content and “A Computer Animated Hand,” a one-minute film from co-Pixar founder Ed Catmull in 1972, a major step in the development of computer animation.


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