Manny P. here…
“`Now that the Library of Congress made 25 additions to the National Film Registry, I’ve exercised my right to vote for 50 movies for next year’s consideration, per the repository’s bylaws. I also determined that a dozen of these motion pictures remain obvious omissions. Here is my reasoning:
~ DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) – An MGM extravaganza, including thespians that appeared in Grand Hotel: John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, and Lionel Barrymore. Plus, dialogue between Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler near its conclusion is movie-magic.
~ SAN FRANCISCO (1936) – Another MGM production showcasing two of the most popular stars in their stable; Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald. Yet, it’s Spencer Tracy who earned the first of many Oscar nods for his work; and predicted future accolades when typecast as a priest. The special effects are spectacular, and set the stage for a litany of disaster pictures.
~ HIGH SIERRA (1941) – Spencer Tracy became a bankable star in 1936; Humphrey Bogart established himself as an “A”-List actor with this movie. He also had a relatable human side as Mad Dog Earle, which convinced John Huston to cast him in The Maltese Falcon.
~ THE WOLFMAN (1941) – Universal was the HORROR studio of the 1930s. The following generation of monsters were secured in the next decade after the popularity of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, and The Mummy. Inheriting his dad’s vast mantle, Lon Chaney Jr. succeeded Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as the lot’s next big thing.
~ HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) – Modern day celluloid fantasies were popular at the advent of World War II. The genre originates with this film. The Devil and Daniel Webster, A Portrait of Jennie, and The Bishop’s Wife were given a green-light after much ballyhoo for Mr. Jordan. Decades later, this was remade as Heaven Can Wait.
~ LIFEBOAT (1944) – Might be Alfred Hitchcock’s eighth addition to The National Registry. The entire production is filmed on a single set. While floating on the ocean, the cast includes noteworthy performances from William Bendix and Hume Cronyn, among others. The cameo of Hitchcock in the film is quite clever.
~ MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) – A stepchild of King Kong; the stop-action animation was perfected by Ray Harryhausen. Like the aforementioned film, Robert Armstrong co-stars with this large ape. And, like The Wizard of Oz and The Picture of Dorian Gray, the finale was colorized for maximum effect.
~ THEM! (1954) – Considered one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s (along with The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Blob). The ensemble includes first-rate performances from Edmund Gwenn, James Arness, and James Whitmore. The giant ants are really scary, too!
~ AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956) – This initial multi-actor travelogue that influenced the casting of later productions, such as It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and The Longest Day. David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, and Cantinflas brings the writings of Jules Verne to life. Producer Mike Todd was killed in an airplane crash shortly after the film was completed. He was married to Elizabeth Taylor at the time.
~ THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (1957) – Robert Youngson provides the first compilation in a series of silent film-snipets. The early days of moving pictures were introduced to 1950s theater-goers (including me); our initial hello to Harry Langdon and Laurel & Hardy. Plus, the insightful ironic opening score is Chopin’s Tristesse, the French word for sadness. On-screen antics became a dichotomy to real-life tragedies that befell the Hollywood elite of the Roaring Twenties.
~ THE LONGEST DAY (1962) – Over 40 international stars were cast in a re-creation of the Allied D-Day Invasion of Normandy. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sal Mineo, Curt Jurgens, and Red Buttons recount harrowing stories of bravery. The battle segments are among the most realistic, until Steven Spielberg’s opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.
~ IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963) – Almost every significant comedian of the day is in this slapstick romp, such as Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, and The Three Stooges. Some critics may consider it over-the-top. But, each month, it is screened somewhere in the nation to sellout crowds. Stanley Kramer’s only produced comedy is an all-out side-splitter.
“`Among modern classics I voted for: 1994’s QUIZ SHOW, a terrific motion picture that was unlucky to be released the same year as Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption; and 2001’s GOSFORD PARK, the production that influenced the creation of Downton Abbey.
“`That’s what you call a celluloid baker’s dozen…
“`We will see if the Library of Congress agrees with my overall analysis for review in 2017. Any of my 50 recommendations would be great additions to the National Film Registry. I sent a link of this blog story to their official website.
Until next time> “never forget”