“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.
Documentaries chosen this year include “The Times of Harvey Milk,” made in 1984 about San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official who was assassinated in 1978, and “Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia” from 1990 about the struggle to rebuild after Pol Pot’s rule.
This year’s selections include some firsts in film history. The 1914 film “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” based on the anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, had been adapted earlier for movies with white actors in the lead roles. But this version was the first feature-length U.S. film to star a black actor when Sam Lucas was chosen for the part.