Forget the Oscars, the new list is up of the 25 films inducted into the Library of Congress's National Film Board for 2007. Since 1992, the Library has been taking up 25 worthwhile films a year for preservation. Early reports focus on the more well-known, deserving films: Back to the Future (above), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Oklahoma!, and Grand Hotel. Also on the list is 12 Angry Men, an early one by Before the Devil Knows Your Dead's Sidney Lumet, and the George Stevens/Laurence Olivier Wuthering Heights. Dances With Wolves and Days of Heaven, two American-as-all-get-out films, will now be safe in the vaults down in Culpeper, Virginia.
Let's have a look at some of the more obscure names on the list, though. One of my all time favorites is going in: the ultra-low-budget noir In A Lonely Place, with Humphrey Bogart in his best performance -- and yes, I saw Casablanca --- as the rageball screenwriter Dixon Steele, whose drinking problem may have led to murder. Peege (1972) is Randall Kleiser's thesis film at USC film school. John Waters' favorite director (according to the book Shock Value) is better known for The Blue Lagoon, Grease and Big Top Pee Wee. His short about a blind grandmother taken to the old folk's home, is supposed to be in a different class from his subsequent work.
From Lebanon, Kentucky, Our Day is only 12 minutes long; it's amateur filmmaker Wallace Kelly's account of his family between the 1930s and the 1950s. The 1926 Harry Langdon/Frank Capra The Strong Man is terrific. The once popular Langdon is a very odd moon-man comedian who anticipates everyone from Bill Murray to Bugs Bunny. And there's two experimental films being honored: 1969's Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son by Ken Jacobs. "An autopsy of the cinematic experience," raves Scott MacDonald in his new book Canyon Cinema); here, the avant-garde filmmaker revises a primitive 1905 film. He does to a movie what later samplers and rappers would do to old ballads. Glimpse of the Garden (1957) by Marie Menken is just that: a view of her garden and of the bird life therein. It's a fleeting moment preserved for 50 years..and now, we hope, for much longer than that.