Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. You know the year is coming to a close when the Library of Congress releases their list of the newly inducted films into the national archives to be preserved for all time.
It’s a pretty geek heavy year, so let’s take a look at what films will never ever go away ever!
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – I suppose the real question here would be what was preserved, the original theatrical cut that took Star Wars from being a big hit to a cultural phenomenon the likes of which has never been equaled in the art form or the tinkered with 1997 SE. Of course I’d prefer the original, but personal feelings aside the SE is already restored and preserved by Lucasfilm and the original materials are what’s going the way of the dodo if it’s not preserved. Either way, it’s about time Empire made the cut.
The Pink Panther (1964) – I’m beginning to think some of the bigger film community deaths of 2010 influenced this list. We also have a Leslie Nielsen movie on the list and Irvin Kershner’s biggest film above. Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther series is a blast and more than worthy of being archived. Just make sure they don’t slip the Steve Martin one in by mistake, okay? Click the above poster for the great trailer.
All The President’s Men (1976) – One of the most fascinating true life crime stories ever told, in this case by Alan J. Pakula from a script by the legendary William Goldman and starring two of the most interesting leading men in American film history at their primes, and told while the crime that cost Nixon his presidency was still fresh on the minds of the audience. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford are flawless in this movie, one of my personal favorites and a definitive newspaper story that’ll make you weep for the state of modern political reporting.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – Robert Altman’s subtle character romance also made the cut for the Film Registry. There’s a lot to dig about this flick, especially the great character cast (an Altman trademark) and some gorgeous milky photography from Vilmos Zsigmond.
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) – I have not seen Elia Kazan’s debut feature film, but I hope to rectify that in the very near future as I plan on doing a series on Kazan’s films while I plow through the newly released Kazan box set. If this film is up to Kazan’s standard (and judging from the 8.1/10 rating on IMDB I’d assume it is) then it’s gotta be fantastic.
The Bargain (1914) – A silent western starring one of the first cowboy stars, William S. Hart. This is another one that I’ve never seen, but the set-up sounds pretty good. It’s about a bandit who is hurt after a robbery and recuperates at a nearby farm house, falling in love with the farmer’s daughter. Now on the straight and narrow he tries to do the right thing and turn in the money, but is instead taken into custody by a crooked sheriff who proceeds to lose the recovered money at a roulette table. Some kind of bargain is struck between the two men and I guess I’ll have to seek out the movie to find out the rest!
It’s A Gift (1934) – Watch the above clip from W.C. Field’s It’s A Gift and you can thank me later for the laughs. “Kumquats!”
Lonesome (1928) – Another silent film, this time from Hungarian filmmaker Paul Fejos. It’s described as a comedic melodrama about two young lovers who are separated during a thunderstorm while at Coney Island. You can watch the whole feature on Youtube, part one embedded above.
Make Way For Tomorrow (1937) – This Depression-era tear-jerker centers on an aging couple who are forced to live separately by their asshole kids in order to save money. Directed by An Affair to Remember’s Leo McCarey and starring Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi, you can watch the flick on Youtube or you can not be a dirty pirate and buy the Criterion release.
Let there Be Light (1946) – Directed by John Huston this film is the third of three documentaries Huston directed for the US Army Signal Corps and the only one to be withheld from any sort of public release by the Army. For 35 years this was kept under wraps because Huston doesn’t hide the identities of the soldiers undergoing treatment for mental trauma upon their return from WW2. You can watch the whole thing above. I plan on doing that as soon as I finish up this article. (PS Keep an ear out for a narration by Walter Huston and a score by great film composer Dimitri Tiomkin)
Grey Gardens (1976) – This it he Albert and David Maysles documentary about Jackie O’s Aunt and cousin, a pair of ex-high society ladies stuck in a crumbling old mansion with nothing but each other and dreams of better yesterdays. Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange recently starred in an HBO miniseries about the making of this documentary.
Malcolm X (1992) – “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us!” I remember that quote in the TV spots being played endlessly in my youth. It was around this age that I began looking past the movies and genres I loved and started broadening my horizons. Spike Lee’s Malcolm X is electrifying, with a helluva lead performance by Denzel Washington who was at that exciting moment in a superstar’s career where you feel like he’s just now taking the gloves off and about to really give us all he’s got. This is an interesting choice for the Film Registry, but one I wouldn’t argue with.
Saturday Night Fever (1977) – I’d love to see the Aliens or future robot explorers who uncover this film as representing humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I love this movie. It’s such a great snapshot of a moment in time. The cultural significance and iconic stature of this movie is impossible to argue… and boy does John Travolta nail the kinda dumb, kinda dickish, but still somehow likeable Tony Manero. Oh, and he can dance, too. Sure, it’s disco and cheesy as shit, but the dude has moves.
Airplane (1981) – I love that this movie is added to the National Archives for so many reasons… I love that it’s added at the same time as Saturday Night Fever because when I hear Stayin’ Alive I must admit I think of Robert Hayes a split second before I think of John Travolta. I love that a movie this silly, that features a blow-up doll blowjob joke, is being saved for all eternity by the US government. And I seriously just love this movie. And stop calling me Shirley. Now we just have to lobby for Top Secret! for next year!
The Exorcist (1974) – That is one of my favorite trailers of all time, reportedly pulled because it caused some theater-goers to suffer epileptic seizures. William Friedkin directed arguably the most shocking, dramatic, well-crafted piece of horror filmmaking ever to see release and now it’ll be stored in a vault and protected for all time. Better watch you future travelers! You’re gonna get creeped the fuck out.
That’s it for the features this year, but experimental and historically significant shorts and features also made the cut, including George Lucas’ student film ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH: THX 1138 4EB, 1906’s A Trip Down Market Street, 1940’s Tarantella, 1996’s Study of a River, 1969’s I Am Joaquin, 1913’s Preservation of Sign Language, 1969’s Our Lady of the Sphere and 1891(!!!)’s Newark Athlete.
You can visit the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board via this website, check out the complete list of what films are in the archive and even vote for films to be included in 2011’s crop. Fingers crossed for The Room!