'Dirty Harry' Among Films Enshrined in National Film Registry
Just in time for the holidays -- and sure to make Clint Eastwood’s day -- the Librarian of Congress has selected A Christmas Story (1983) and Dirty Harry (1971) to be among the next batch of 25 motion pictures to be included in the National Film Registry.
Also in the Class of 2012 are such great Hollywood films as Born Yesterday (1950), featuring Judy Holliday’s Oscar-winning performance; Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), starring the luminous Audrey Hepburn; Penny Marshall’s baseball period piece A League of Their Own (1992); and the Wachowskis’ cyberpunk science-fiction epic The Matrix (1999), the most recent work to gain entry.
Also making Librarian of Congress James Billington’s list are Sons of the Desert (1933), perhaps the funniest feature from Laurel & Hardy; the classic Elmore Leonard Western 3:10 to Yuma (1957); Otto Preminger’s suspenseful Anatomy of a Murder (1959), starring James Stewart; the road movie Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), with singer James Taylor and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson as its nonmusical stars; and Richard Linklater’s indie rumination Slacker (1991).
The titles named to the registry also include documentaries, early films dating to 1899 and experimental motion pictures. This year’s selections bring the number of works in the Library of Congress registry to 600.
“Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage,” Billington said in a statement. “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”
Among the documentaries named are The Times of Harvey Milk, a revealing portrait of San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official. They Call It Pro Football, described as the Citizen Kane of sports movies and one of the first products of NFL Films, also made the cut, as did a 1914 version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which features the first black actor (Sam Lucas) to star in a feature-length American film.
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian of Congress each year names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least 10 years old.
The Librarian makes the selections after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with library film curators and the members of the National Film Preservation Board.
For each title named, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers.
Beginning on the next page is a look at the 25 films named to the 2011 National Film Registry, with descriptions supplied by the Library of Congress.