Saving Private Lebowski at Rio Bravo: 25 movies added to the National Film Registry

As they do every year, the Library of Congress has added 25 additional motion pictures to its National Film Registry. According the press release I received Wednesday, "Selection to the registry will help ensure that these films will be preserved for all time."

Or at least until Congress cuts the budget to provide additional income for the Koch brothers.

The LoC doesn’t claim that these are the 25 best films not yet already in the Registry. Movies are chosen for their cultural or historical importance. They may show a way of life that few have seen and that perhaps no longer exists. They may represent a new technical or stylistic cinematic direction. They may have been huge commercial hits or developed a large cult following.

On the other hand, some achieved cultural or historical importance by being really, really good.

There’s only one movie on the list that I would give (and have given) an A+, Howard Hawk’s Rio Bravo.

I may one day give an A+ to The Big Lebowski. But since I don’t give that high a grade to films less than 20 years old, we’ll have to wait a few years to find out.

I’m also glad to see Little Big Man on the list. I haven’t seen this film in many years, but I loved it when it was new. I might love it again.

Some of the films have strong followings, of which I don’t belong. Saving Private Ryan struck me as a mediocre war movie with a great opening sequence. And Rosemary’s Baby, for me at least, just barely works. I hated Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory almost as much as I hated the book. I’ve never even thought about seeing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; maybe I’m missing something.

There are a lot of films here that I would like to see, some of which I didn’t know existed until I read the press release. These include the unfinished Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day and Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!, "considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film." Amongst those I’ve heard of but haven’t seen are The Power and the Glory, Preston Sturges’ first produced screenplay, and a major influence on Citizen Kane.

Someone should do a festival of all of these films.

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