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February 1998, Week 2


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Cynthia Bussiere <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 Feb 1998 02:03:31 EST
text/plain (192 lines)
If I may, I'd like to supplement Jeremy's "Foundation" post
with some information about the current Library of Congress
National Film Registry Tour:
In addition to creating the Foundation, the National Film
Preservation Act of 1996 re-authorized the National Film
Preservation Board (NFRB) and the National Film Registry
(NFR)---each established by federal legislation in 1988---
for seven more years.  These creatures of statute
supplement the work of the Library of Congress' (LOC)
own motion picture conservation center, established in 1969.
In brief, the NFPB is charged with the preservation not only
of past feature films but, indeed, with the entire motion picture
heritage of America, which embraces a creative range that far
exceeds the output of Hollywood.  The Board therefore seeks
to preserve important works from every field of film production,
including independent films, home movies, animated shorts,
experimental and avant-garde films, newsreels, and other genres.
The members of the NFPB represent all areas of the national film
community:  Producers, film critics, teachers, archivists, indepen-
dent filmmakers, actors, writers, theater owners, and distributors.
In keeping with the NFPB's statutory mandate, the members are
committed to increasing public awareness of the need for film
The NFR, in brief, comprises a collection of films selected by
the Librarian of Congress (after a national nominating process)
for preservation at the rate of not more than 25 films per year.
The selection criteria require that a film be at least ten years
old and that it be of "aesthetic, historical or cultural" importance
to the nation.  Since the NFR's creation, 175 films have been
added to the Registry.  The selection of a film obligates the
LOC to do all it can to ensure that the film is preserved---
whether by the LOC, the film's original creators, or another
archive---for posterity in its original form.  Thus, selection
includes obtaining archival copies of each film for preservation
within the LOC.
Anyone, by the way, can nominate a film (as long as it meets
the selection criteria) for inclusion in the Registry.  In fact, the
Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, is currently seeking
nominations for addition to the NFR in 1998.  For consideration,
you should forward your nominations (with a limit of 50 titles per
person per year, please :-) to:
     National Film Registry
     Library of Congress, MBRS Division
     Washington, D.C.  20540
     Attn:  Steve Leggett
Alternatively, you may E-mail your nominations to Mr. Leggett:
        [log in to unmask]
The *really exciting* part of all this is that ensuring the availability
of good quality projection prints is also one of the purposes of the
NFR.  To this end, the NFR has chosen 36 representative films to
tour on exhibition throughout the United States.  The twofold goal
of the tour is (1) to garner the appreciation of audiences across
the country for the artistry involved in these films and (2) to obtain
nationwide support for the effort to protect and preserve these films,
as well as the rest of America's endangered film heritage.
In aid of this goal, the participating studios have contributed new
prints of their titles to the tour and have waived their usual screening
fees.  In the case of _The Treasure of the Sierra Madre_, the print
is based on a restoration carried out by the NFR.  The tour is funded,
in part, by the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress,
with additional support from The Film Foundation and Turner Classic
The tour began in late 1996.  It makes one stop in each state,
exhibits the 36 films for approximately ten days, and moves on.
Because each stop on the tour costs between $5,000 and $8,000,
the tour has reached only about 25 states thus far.  The tour tries
to book into "movie palace"-type theatres in cities with relatively
high cinephilic populations, on the one hand, and relatively few
competing movie theatres, on the other.  Thus, when the tour
reaches New York, the plan is to book it into Syracuse, which
has a good movie-going population, rather than New York City,
which has too many competing theatres.  The most recent
stop on the tour was in January in San Francisco, California,
at the Castro Theatre.  (In keeping with the booking plan, the
Castro is a huge movie palace, not yet divided into multiplexes.
Additionally, San Francisco has a large and sophisticated film
audience but fewer movie theatres than Los Angeles.  Hence
the choice of San Francisco rather than Los Angeles.)  Because
of the scarcity of funding for each stop on the tour, the tour is
planned only one or two stops in advance.  I believe the next
stop after San Francisco is Wichita, Kansas.
I was thrilled to be able to see five of the touring films during the
San Francisco stop.  (Of course, I had great plans to see at
least 20 of the 36, but we all know how *that* goes. :-)  In spite
of the high costs of the tour, the price of admission to the
films does not appear to carry any premium.  Thus, in San
Francisco, the admission prices were the Castro Theatre's
normal ticket prices:  $6.50 for one adult for an entire evening
(regardless of the number of films screened), and $4.00 for a
senior or a bargain matinee (good for the entire day and evening).
I've listed the touring films below.  (For reasons that I don't know,
_The River_ (Farm Security Administration, 1937) was not available
for screening in San Francisco.)  While the NFR has, of course,
selected the 36 touring films, the programming of the films at each
stop is left to the discretion of the host theatre.  Because the
programming of the films in San Francisco was quite unique and
publicly praised by the LOC representative accompanying the
tour, I've listed the films in the order in which they screened here.
I know you'll appreciate the programming:
Day One -- Opening Night & Celebration:  Silent Classics
_The Cheat_ (DeMille, 1915)
_The Great Train Robbery_ (Porter, 1903)
_Gertie the Dinosaur_ (McCay, 1914)
Special appearance and introductory comments by
      Arthur Hiller, NFPB member.
Day Two
_The Learning Tree_ (Parks, 1969)
_On the Waterfront_ (Kazan, 1954)
_Raging Bull_ (Scorsese, 1980)
Day Three
_The March of Time:  Inside Nazi Germany--1938_ (Time, Inc., 1938)
_The Battle of San Pietro_ (US Army Signal Corps
            (directed by Major John Huston), 1945)
_The Treasure of the Sierra Madre_ (Huston, 1948)
_Chinatown_ (Polanski, 1974)
Day Four
_Gigi_ (Minnelli, 1958)
_Ninotchka_ (Lubitsch, 1939)
_Big Business_ (Horne & McCarey, 1929)
_Safety Last_ (Newmeyer & Taylor, 1923)
_What's Opera, Doc?_ (Jones, 1957)
_Duck Soup_ (McCarey, 1933)
Day Five
_Within Our Gates_ (Micheaux, 1919)
_Letter From an Unknown Woman_ (Ophuls, 1948)
_Yankee Doodle Dandy_ (Curtiz, 1942)
_Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying
            and Love the Bomb_ (Kubrick, 1964)
_2001:  A Space Odyssey_ (Kubrick, 1968)
Day Six
_Eaux d'Artifice_ (Anger, 1953)
_Meshes of the Afternoon_ (Deren, 1943)
_Castro Street_ (Baille, 1966)
_High School_ (Wiseman, 1968)
Day Seven
_Shane_ (Stevens, 1953)
_The Searchers_ (Ford, 1956)
_My Darling Clementine_ (Ford, 1946)
Day Eight
_Out of the Past_ (Tourneur, 1947)
_Touch of Evil_ (Welles, 1958)
_Night of the Hunter_ (Laughton, 1955)
_Shadow of a Doubt_ (Hitchcock, 1943)
Day Nine -- Closing Night & Celebration
_Salt of the Earth_ (Biberman, 1954)
_I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang_ (LeRoy, 1932)
_Sunrise_ (Murnau, 1927)
I trust I haven't bored everyone to death by now.  Moreover,
I know that the films selected for the tour are, from an academic
standpoint, typical, not-so-exciting, lower division stuff.  However,
seeing these films on the big screen (especially the wide-screen
black-and-white) with practically pristine prints, is a treat in and
of itself.  If the tour comes to a city near you, don't miss the
rare opportunity to see some of these films as they were
made to be seen.
The URL for all of the Library of Congress film preservation
material is:
Cynthia Bussiere
[log in to unmask]
San Francisco, California
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite