WASHINGTON: ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” ”Dirty Harry” and ”A League of Their Own” will be preserved for their enduring significance in American culture at by the US Library of Congress, along with ”A Christmas Story” and some pioneering sports movies. They are among 25 selections the library is inducting into the National Film Registry.
Congress created the program in 1989 to preserve films for their cultural or historical significance. The latest additions bring the registry to 600 films that include Hollywood features, documentaries, independent films and early experimental flicks.
The newest film chosen for preservation is 1999′s ”The Matrix,” noted for its state-of-the-art special effects and computer-generated animation with a style that drew on Hong Kong action films and Japanese anime to change science fiction filmmaking, curators noted.
The oldest film being preserved, ”The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight,” dates back 115 years to 1897.
Film curators said the boxing movie helped establish the film industry as a successful business, drawing on the sport’s popularity and controversy to generate $750,000 in income. Boxing was illegal in many states at the time but recently had been made legal in Nevada, which hosted the fight. The film, with a running time of about 100 minutes, became the longest movie ever produced at the time, showing the full course of the fight.
Another pioneering sports film, ”They Call It Pro Football” from 1967 was chosen for how it changed the way football was portrayed on screen. Before then, football films were mostly highlight reels. National Football League commissioner Pete Rozelle decided the success of the NFL depended on its television image, to capture the struggle of the sport and not just the end result on the scoreboard.
The Librarian of Congress makes the selections each year after conferring with members of the National Film Preservation Board and receiving public nominations. To be considered, the films must be at least 10 years old.
”These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington in announcing the selections. ”They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”
They also include some unforgettable characters. Audrey Hepburn landed the lead in 1961′s ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” even though writer Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the part. Film critics and the audience decided Capote was wrong and hailed Hepburn’s portrayal.
”A League of Their Own” from 1992 received many public nominations for the film registry over the years. With a cast that included Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell, it told the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Numerous public nominations also were received for ”Born Yesterday” from 1950 and ”A Christmas Story” from 1983. Both were chosen this year. Other Hollywood features on the list include ”Anatomy of a Murder” from 1959 and ”3:10 to Yuma” from 1957. Each title named to the registry will be preserved in the library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, built partially in a bunker in Culpeper, Va., or through collaborations with other archives or studios.