Manny P. here…
“`The Library of Congress has released its annual addition to the National Film Registry for 2016. The 1980s and 1990s are fully represented with the inclusion of The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, Thelma & Louise, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Lion King, and Rushmore. These are worthy selections that could have been chosen decades from now. My personal interest lies in classic cinema that made this year’s class. They include:
~ STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928) – Buster Keaton was an ingenious craftsman. This flick is remembered for its breath-taking stunts and cyclone finale. After making the movie, the actor made a disastrous move to MGM, which ended his productive career. His fame rests on his array of work from 1920 to 1928 when, with shorts and features, he displayed a seamless mastery of comic technique, editing, superb photoplay, and intricately visual gags.
~ LOST HORIZON (1937) – Frank Capra’s big-budget, romantic fantasy delivered an emotional respite for a public that sought escape from the Great Depression, and yearned for personal utopias. Through literature and celluloid, Shangri-La became a household term. A grandiose adventure, this motion picture stands out for stunning cinematography and extravagant sets; a hallmark of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Plus, it features the handsome Ronald Colman.
~ BALL OF FIRE (1941) – In this Howard Hawks-directed screwball comedy, Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck really shine, with able support by character actors, which included Dana Andrews, S.Z. Sakall, Henry Travers, Allen Jenkins, and Dan Duryea. It oozes with colorful period slang and boogie-woogie riffs, highlighted by an energetic performance from legendary drummer, Gene Krupa. This production mirrored a mood of a pre-World War II citizenry. The Billy Wilder-Charles Brackett script is kind of a swing-era adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
~ BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) – The landmark motion picture that coincided with the rise in popularity of Elvis Presley and rock n roll. The film titles opened to the strains of Rock Around the Clock. It starred Glenn Ford, and made stars of Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow. This movie had none of the subtlety of the cinema made by Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean; but, all of the reality and grit.
~ EAST OF EDEN (1955) – Speaking of Dean, his career exploded for 18 months before his tragic death due to a car accident. He starred in just three pictures, and his first was this brooding drama. Jo Van Fleet garnered an Oscar for her startling performance in support. It was a great year for the actress, as she also co-starred in The Rose Tattoo and I’ll Cry Tomorrow. James Dean received the first of two Oscar nods.
~ THE BIRDS (1963) – It’s the seventh title added to the National Film Registry from the work of director Alfred Hitchcock. This was his followup production after Psycho. Starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, and Suzanne Pleshette, this is widely considered the last important movie made by Hitch. Despite its confusing ending, the master of suspense delivers his usual chills. His promotion in theaters for the film are now considered legendary.
~ POINT BLANK (1967) – A neo-noir crime movie directed by John Boorman, it starred Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. This flick was not a box office success in 1967; but, it has since gone on to become a cult classic, eliciting praise from such critics as film historian David Thomson. A forgotten movie that helped usher in the new wave of modern dramas that included Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate.
~ FUNNY GIRL (1968) – The musical autobiography of Fannie Brice earned its star, Barbra Streisand, an Academy Award (she tied with Katharine Hepburn). Upon receiving her statuette, Streisand famously proclaimed — Hello gorgeous! This movie was adapted from the 1964 Broadway production, and it features an infectious score and award-winning numbers, such as Second Hand Rose and People. It was Streisand’s first screen role. Omar Sharif co-starred.
“`The Library of Congress selects 25 movies for preservation, each year, for their vault in Culpeper, Virginia, because of their cultural, historic or artistic importance. This year’s picks bring the total number of films in the Registry to 700. The choices have become increasingly diverse and eclectic since the Registry was created in 1989.
Until next time> “never forget”