'Butch Cassidy,' 'Patton' make list
Library of Congress names new films to Registry
"Patton" was one of 25 films added to the National Film Registry.
1. Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman (1974)
2. Atlantic City (1980)
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
4. The Chechahcos (1924)
5. Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894-95)
6. Film Portrait (1970)
7. Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band (1928)
8. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
9. The Hunters (Kalahari Desert tribe anthropological film) (1957)
10. Matrimony's Speed Limit (1913)
11. Medium Cool (1969)
12. National Velvet (1944)
13. Naughty Marietta (1935)
14. Nostalgia (1971)
15. One Froggy Evening (1956)
16. Patton (1970)
17. Princess Nicotine; or the Smoke Fairy (1909)
18. Show People (1928)
19. The Son of the Sheik (1926)
20. Tarzan and His Mate (1934)
21. Tin Toy (1988)
22. The Wedding March (1928)
23. White Heat (1949)
24. Young Frankenstein (1974)
25. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
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WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) -- Some of Hollywood's most dynamic duos are among the headliners included in the 2003 version of the Library of Congress' list of 25 films that will be added to the National Film Registry.
Among the major motion pictures included in this year's list are "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," which first paired Robert Redford and Paul Newman; "Tarzan and His Mate," the second in the Tarzan series; "National Velvet," which put Mickey Rooney together with a teenage Elizabeth Taylor; "Naughty Marietta," one of the movies made by the song-and-dance team Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy; and "Son of the Sheik," starring Rudolph Valentino.
Each year Librarian of Congress James Billington selects 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant motion pictures for the Registry. 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, Billington said.
"Our film heritage is America's living past," he said. "It celebrates the creativity and inventiveness of diverse communities and our nation as a whole. By preserving American films, we safeguard a significant element of our cultural history."
For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved for all time, either through the Library's motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Library of Congress contains the largest collections of film and television in the world, from the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture to the latest feature releases.
The selections, which seem to highlight buddy films and sequels, span the years 1894-1988.
Steve Leggett, staff coordinator for the National Film Presentation Board, said this year's list -- which brings the registry to 375 films -- includes some that may have been overlooked in the past.
Of "Butch Cassidy," Leggett said, "It not only introduced us to one of the movies' classic pairings, but this launched Robert Redford into the public eye."
"National Velvet" also became a star-making vehicle as it introduced Taylor to the world.
"We always try and pick out one family-oriented film, and this paired Elizabeth Taylor when she was very young with Mickey Rooney," he said. "It made her a star, and it's a good film."
"Tarzan and His Mate," the second of the Tarzan franchise that featured Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, became one of the brand of then-racy new films that forced the motion picture industry to adopt the forerunner of the modern ratings system -- the Hays Code.
"The production code came about because of films like this," Leggett said.
One scene in particular, which had Weissmuller swimming naked with a double for O'Sullivan, was considered particularly racy. It was cut during postproduction but was restored to the film about a decade ago.
"It's a very sexy scene," Leggett said. "But it was one of those things where people started saying that Hollywood was getting out of control. After this, Tarzan and Jane are sleeping in separate beds -- like that would ever happen in a treehouse in the jungle."
"Naughty Marietta," featuring Eddy and MacDonald, is a selection that highlights one of often overlooked tandems in show business, Leggett said.
"While they're very popular still, each year we get criticized by the over-70 set for not picking one of their films," he said. "So we're hoping this makes some of them happy."
This year's list also includes some singular achievements.
George C. Scott's portrayal of Gen. George Patton in "Patton" features one of the best single performances by any actor.
"The great part about it is he doesn't turn Patton into a caricature," Leggett said. "It's a much more rich and complex presentation. Given that it was produced in the Vietnam era, making a movie that glamorized Patton to some degree was risky, but both the right and the left liked it."
This year's registry also brings ensconces Michigan J. Frog, an animated one-hit wonder by Chuck Jones. While the sometimes-singing frog in Warner Bros.' "One Froggy Evening" became an icon for the studio's television network decades later, it was his only starring role.
And speaking of foggy nights, "Young Frankenstein," Mel Brooks' comic homage to monster movies, made the cut from the nearly 1,000 titles nominated this year.
"It's one of the all-time best comedies, and the fact he made it in black and white is just great," Leggett said. "It's a very affectionate satire."
While the famous-name films grab the headlines, the biggest beneficiaries of the libraries film preservation efforts are the so-called "orphan" films. Pictures like the 1894 "Dickenson Experimental Sound Film," perhaps the first "talkie," that have little commercial value but are significant nonetheless are the most at risk, Billington said.
"In spite of the heroic efforts of archives, the motion picture industry and others, America's film heritage, by any measure, is an endangered species," he said. "Fifty percent of the films produced before 1950 and 80-90% made before 1920 have disappeared forever. Sadly, our enthusiasm for watching films has proved far greater than our commitment to preserving them."
Copyright 2003 Reuters
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