Dr. Billington on Nov. 16 announced his annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry. This group of titles brings the total number of films placed on the Registry to 250.
The announcement was made in Los Angeles at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library. Attending the announcement was Gregory Peck, whose film "Twelve O'Clock High" was named to the Registry. Also in attendance were Film Board members Fay Kanin, Roger Mayer, Leonard Maltin, Del Reisman, Karen Ishizuka, Alan Davian, Eddie Richmond, David Raksin and Alan Bergman.
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian of Congress names 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant motion pictures to the Registry each year. 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.
"Taken together, the 250 films in the National Film Registry represent a broad range of American filmmaking -- including Hollywood features, documentaries, avant-garde, amateur, films of regional interest, ethnic, animated and short film subjects -- all deserving recognition, preservation and access by future generations," said Dr. Billington, who was introduced by Winston Tabb, associate librarian for Library Services.
The Librarian chose this year's titles after evaluating more than a thousand titles nominated by the public and following discussions with the distinguished members and alternates of his advisory body, the National Film Preservation Board, whom the Librarian consults both on Registry film selection and film preservation policy.
"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 our history and build toward the future," said the Librarian.
For each title named to the Registry, the Library works to ensure that the film is preserved for all time, either through the Library's massive motion picture preservation program at Dayton, Ohio, or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Library contains one of the largest collections of film and television in the world, from the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture to the latest feature releases.
"Despite 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 at least 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 preserved," said Dr. Billington. For more information, visit the NFPB Web site at www.loc.gov/film.
Films Selected to the National Film Registry, 1998
- "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)
- "The City" (1939)
- "Dead Birds" (1964)
- "Don't Look Back" (1967)
- "Easy Rider" (1969)
- "42nd Street" (1933)
- "From the Manger to the Cross" (1912)
- "Gun Crazy" (1949)
- "The Hitch-Hiker" (1953)
- "The Immigrant" (1917)
- "The Last Picture Show" (1972)
- "Little Miss Marker" (1934)
- "The Lost World" (1925)
- "Modesta" (1956)
- "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943)
- "Pass the Gravy" (1928)
- "Phantom of the Opera" (1925)
- "Powers of Ten" (1978)
- "The Public Enemy" (1931)
- "Sky High" (1922)
- "Steamboat Willie" (1928)
- "Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse" (1940)
- "Tootsie" (1982)
- "Twelve O'Clock High" (1949)
- "Westinghouse Works, 1904"