*Songs from Chubby Checker, Betty Carter, Leontyne Price and Junior Wells were among the 25 audio works newly added to the National Recording Registry, a collection of sound recordings to be preserved as representative of America’s cultural, artistic and historic treasures.
The Library of Congress announced the new selections on Thursday (March 21). They include commercial recordings of every music genre, as well as radio broadcasts, news and documentary recordings. View the full list of new additions here.
Betty Carter’s 1980 album “The Audience with Betty Carter”
Recorded at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, this live double-album features the jazz singer (backed by her instrumental trio of pianist John Hicks, drummer Kenny Washington, and Curtis Lundy on double bass) singing both her original compositions (“Sounds (Movin’ On),” “I Think I Got It Now”) and standards (“The Trolley Song,” “My Favorite Things,” “Everything I Have Is Yours”).
Leontyne Price’s 1959 album, “A Program of Song”
A former Juilliard student, Leontyne Price performed in opera houses in America and Europe, and become the first African American to sing the lead in Verdi’s “Aida,” at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. “A Program of Song” is a document of the soprano’s 1959 recital at New York’s Town Hall, featuring works by Richard Strauss, Gabriel Faure, Francis Poulenc and Hugo Wolf.
Junior Wells’ 1965 album, “Hoodoo Man Blues”
In his critically-acclaimed debut album, blues singer and harmonica player Junior Wells performed with the Chicago Blues Band — Jack Myers, Bill Warren and Buddy Guy, listed on the original sleeve as “Friendly Chap,” owing to a potential clash with Guy’s record label.
Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit single, “The Twist”
A blues song originally recorded in 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, “The Twist” was later covered by Philadelphia singer Chubby Checker. The airplay and exposure on “American Bandstand” took Checker’s recording to the top of the charts, introducing a new dance craze with it. [Scroll down to watch.] The recording was then re-released almost two years later, when it AGAIN hit Number One.
Chubby Checker had an explanation for the success of the dance associated with the song: “You didn’t have to be a great dancer to do the Twist. All you needed to do was a few steps, a little imagination, and you were home.”
*Director Ivan Dixon’s controversial 1973 movie “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” and the 1914 silent adaptation of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” are among the 25 films selected for inclusion this year in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
Congress established the National Film Registry in 1989 to highlight the need to preserve U.S. film heritage. Under the conditions of the National Film Preservation Act, the librarian of Congress names 25 films yearly that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The films must be at least 10 years old.
“The Spook Who sat by the Door” is a thriller about an African American who infiltrates the CIA, then uses his training to plot a black nationalist revolution in Chicago. [Scroll down to watch the film in its entirety.]
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” an adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark 1852 anti-slavery novel, is said to be the first feature-length film that starred an African American actor — Sam Lucas, who had appeared in the 1878 stage version.
Also joining the National Film Registry this year is “The Matrix,” co-starring Laurence Fishburne.
“These films are not selected as the best American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture,” Librarian of Congress James M. Billington said in a statement released this morning. “They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”
This year’s selection of films, which span the period from 1897 to 1999, brings the number of films in the registry to 600.
Below are the remaining films selected for 2012:
“3:10 to Yuma” (1957): Delmar Daves directed this western based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.
“Anatomy of a Murder” (1959): Otto Preminger directed this courtroom thriller that made headlines for its frankness in language and adult themes.
“The Augustas” (1930s-1950s): A 16-minute film by traveling salesman Scott Nixon, who was a member of the Amateur Cinema League, chronicling some 38 streets, storefronts and cities named Augusta.
“Born Yesterday” (1950): Judy Holliday won a best actress Oscar as not-so-dumb-blonde Billie Dawn in this political satire directed by George Cukor.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961): Audrey Hepburn plays one of her quintessential roles — the quirky Manhattan call girl Holly Golighty — in this romantic dramedy based on Truman Capote’s novella.
“A Christmas Story” (1983): Humorist Jean Shepherd narrates this classic holiday comedy based on his memoirs of growing up in Indiana and hoping to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.
“The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight” (1897): Chronicle of the famed boxing match between James J. Corbett — aka “Gentleman Jim” — and Bob Fitzsimmons that was held on St. Patrick’s Day in Carson City, Nev.
“Dirty Harry” (1971): Clint Eastwood introduced his iconic role as maverick San Francisco Det. Harry Callahan in Don Siegel’s influential action-thriller.
“Hours for Jerome: Parts 1 and 2” (1980-82) : Experimental filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky’s silent tone poem.
“The Kidnappers Foil” (1930s-1950s): Dallas native Melton Barker traveled through the South and Midwest for three decades filming local kids acting, singing and dancing in two-reel films he called “The Kidnappers Foil.” A few weeks after shooting, the townspeople would get a copy of the film for screening at the local theater.
“Kodachrome Color Motion Picture Tests“ (1922): The two-color (greenish blue and red) film was the first publicly demonstrated color film to attract the attention of the film industry.
“A League of Their Own” (1992): Penny Marshall’s box office hit comedy about the All American-Girls Professional Softball League of the 1940s and early 1950s.
“The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair” (1939): Technicolor industrial film produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
“One Survivor Remembers” (1995): Oscar-winning documentary short about Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein.
“Parable” (1964): The Protestant Council of New York produced this controversial, acclaimed silent allegorical Christian film for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
“Samsara: Death and Rebirth of Cambodia” (1990): Ellen Bruno’s Stanford University master’s thesis documents the struggle of the Cambodian people to rebuild their shattered society after Pol Pot’s killing fields.
“Slacker” (1991): Richard Linklater’s indie comedy follows a group of diverse characters over the course of one day in Austin, Texas.
“Sons of the Desert” (1933): Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy star in one of their funniest vehicles.
“They Call It Pro Football” (1967): The first feature from NFL Films utilized Telephoto lens and slow-motion to offer a primer on the game.
“The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984): Academy Award-winning documentary about San Francisco’s first openly gay elected city official who was slain in 1978.“Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971): Director Monte Hellman’s existential road picture.
“The Wishing Ring; An Idyll of Old England”“ (1914): Maurice Tourneur’s charming cross-class romance.
*Rare audio interviews of former slaves and iconic recordings by Donna Summer, Prince, Parliament and the Sugarhill Gang are among the 25 works chosen by the Library of Congress this year as sounds of cultural significance to be preserved permanently in the National Recording Registry.
Though Summer died last week of cancer, her 1977 disco hit “I Feel Love” was selected for the sound registry weeks ago, said Matt Barton, the library’s curator of recorded sound. Summer had many hits, but “I Feel Love” rose to the top because it was a breakthrough that would change club music for years to come, according to the library’s citation.
“From the first time you heard it, it was just, ‘Wow, this is very different,’ ” Barton said. “We hadn’t heard this before. It was enormously influential.”
The registry will also include Prince’s “Purple Rain” and early sounds from hip-hop, courtesy of The Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight.” The rap is credited with launching a genre and inspiring future artists. Early funk will be represented with the induction of Parliament’s 1975 classic “Mothership Connection,” and blues singer Bo Diddley is being inducted with “Bo Diddley” and “I’m a Man.”
Also added this year is the only known audio of former American slaves who were interviewed in the 1930s, including one participant who had worked for Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Additional inductees include Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” Leonard Bernstein’s conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1943 and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio from 1970, which introduced millions of people to jazz through the TV soundtrack.
There’s also a cylinder from a talking doll created by Thomas Edison in 1888 that is the earliest known commercial sound recording. It was considered unplayable until last year, after new digital mapping tools were used to reveal its sound of a woman singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
“America’s sound heritage is an important part of the nation’s history and culture, and this year’s selections reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington, in announcing his final selections Wednesday.
The Grateful Dead will be represented with the 1977 Barton Hall concert at Cornell University, which has been cited as one of their best performances ever. The recording was hailed for its sound quality. One key choice they made was to allow fans to record their concerts live, rather than hiring guards to take away recorders. That helped build an army of “Dead heads,” Hart said, because they could all take the experience they had paid for with them. And every concert was always different.
Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier in "Porgy and Bess"
*“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.
*Do the right thing is a relevant phrase in any context, but Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” has reached an unfortunate milestone of relevance in American culture. The movie’s portrait of race in the urban center of New York was reflective of the nation’s overall racial climate of 1989. (more…)