Manny P. here…
The Class of 2011 include films familiar to the average movie audience, such as Norma Rae, Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, and Stand and Deliver. Many worthy considerations were also chosen from the Silent Era and Hollywood’s Golden Age. Here are notable selections that should interest the classic movie buff:
~ The Kid (1921) - Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature made Jackie Coogan a star. I’ll be telling Coogan’s heartbreaking story, which led to the protection of children in the movie business by the California legislature, in my upcoming second book.
~ The Iron Horse (1924) - John Ford’s first silent masterpiece. Ford is the most honored film director in the annals of cinema.
~ Twentieth Century (1934) - Along with It Happened One Night, this movie directed by Howard Hawks ushered in the era of the screwball comedy. It was the last important screen performance by John Barrymore, and Carole Lombard became the genre’s first film sensation.
~ Bambi (1942) - Along with Mary Poppins, Walt Disney’s personal favorite work. The screen death of the fawn’s mother is an unforgettable scene. Many children first learned the notion of tragedy by watching this animated classic.
~ The Lost Weekend (1945) - It preceded The Best Years of Our Lives by a full year, this was the production that first provided the social message to motion picture audiences. Ray Milland won an Oscar for his riveting role of an alcoholic.
~ The Big Heat (1953) - Maybe, the finest 1950s film-noir production. Directed by Fritz Lang, the movie starred Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, and Gloria Grahame. The scene in which Grahame’s character has her face scarred with acid, actually caused audiences to leave a bit traumatized.
~ The War of the Worlds (1953) - Along with The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Them!, one of the great Cold War-science fiction thrillers, and based on the H.G. Wells novel. The award-winning special effects were created by George Pal.
~ Porgy and Bess (1959) - A critical failure when released; this motion picture became a landmark production when it hired African Americans in the lead roles, including Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll. George Gershwin’s score cemented his reputation as the 20th Century’s greatest classical composer.
And, added to this year’s National Film Registry were a number of documentaries. Frank Capra’s production of The Negro Soldier (1944) shared the contributions of Negroes during World War II. Also, a collection of home movies by the Nicholas Brothers were perserved. Their development of dance in motion pictures compares favorably to the work of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The sibling’s personal reels are among the films long considered as cultural, artistic and historical treasures… and finally recognized on its merits.
Earlier this year, the Library of Congress added Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History to the Thomas Jefferson Reading Room shelves. I’m proud to be a small part of the Class of 2011, with regards to the National Film Registry’s cinematic additions.
Until next time> “never forget”