*“Porgy and Bess,” the 1959 musical starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll and Brock Peters, is among the 25 films chosen to be included this year in the National Film Registry.
Directed by Otto Preminger, the film is based on the 1935 opera of the same name by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, and Ira Gershwin, which is in turn based on Heyward’s 1925 novel Porgy. [Scroll down to clips from the film.]
The Library of Congress on Wednesday also announced the addition of documentary “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” about Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama and the response of President John F. Kennedy.
Also included was the documentary “The Negro Soldier,” produced by Frank Capra. It showed the heroism of blacks in the nation’s wars and became mandatory viewing for all soldiers from spring 1944 until World War II’s end. [Scroll down to watch entire film.]
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. This year, 2,228 films were nominated.
“These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”
The most recent film to be chosen for the registry is 1994’s “Forrest Gump,” starring Tom Hanks. The oldest reels are silent films both from 1912. “The Cry of the Children” is about the pre-World War I child labor reform movement and “A Cure for Pokeritis” features the industry’s earliest comic superstar John Bunny. Also from that silent era is Charlie Chaplin’s first full-length feature, “The Kid,” from 1921.
For each title, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations. That comes either by the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborating with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers.
Also making the list is the animated Disney classic, “Bambi,” made in 1942 about a deer’s life in the forest, “The Big Heat” from 1953, a post-war noir film, and 1991’s disturbing, “The Silence of the Lambs,” which won Oscars for stars Jody Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
The original “War of the Worlds” from 1953 also will be preserved along with ”Stand and Deliver” and John Ford’s epic Western, “The Iron Horse,” from 1924.
Lesser known films were chosen for their significance to the art. “A Computer Animated Hand” from 1972 is by Pixar Animation Studios co-founder Ed Catmull. The one-minute film that is one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer and flexing its fingers.