Empire Strikes Back, Airplane! and The Exorcist Chosen by Library of Congress
I Am Joaquin is a 20-minute short film based on an epic poem published by Rodolfo “Corky" Gonzales in 1967. Gonzales’ poem weaves together the long tangled roots of his Mexican, Spanish, Indian and American parentage and a past mythology of pre-Columbian cultures. The film is important to the history and culture of Chicanos in America, spotlighting the challenges they have endured because of discrimination. Luis Valdez, often described as the father of Chicano theater, produced and directed I Am Joaquin as a project of Teatro Campesino (the Farmworkers Theater), which he founded in 1965 to inform, encourage and entertain Chicano farm workers. Valdez later directed the Chicano-themed Zoot Suit in 1981, a retelling of the early 1940s Los Angeles race riots, and La Bamba in 1987.
It’s a Gift (1934)
The popularity and influence of W.C. Fields continues with each succeeding generation, distinguishing him as one of the greatest American comedians of the 20th century. It’s a Gift has survived a perilous preservation history and is the third Fields film to be named to the National Film Registry. The film’s extended comic sequence featuring Baby LeRoy, and depicting Fields’ travails while trying to sleep on the open-air back porch of a rooming house, was adapted from one of his most successful live theatrical sketches.
Let There Be Light (1946)
Director John Huston directed three classic war documentaries for the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the period of 1943-46: Report from the Aleutians, Battle of San Pietro and Let There Be Light. Let There Be Light was blocked from public distribution by the War Department for 35 years because no effort was made during filming to disguise or mask the identities of combat veterans suffering from various forms of psychological trauma. The film provides important historical documentation of the efforts of psychiatric professionals during World War II to care for emotionally wounded veterans and prepare them to return to civilian life. Let There Be Light was filmed by cinematographer Stanley Cortez and its score was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin.
Lonesome is one of the few American feature films directed by the gifted Hungarian-born filmmaker and scientist Paul Fejös (1897-1963). The film has been recognized for its success as both a comic melodrama (about young lovers who become separated during the chaos of a thunderstorm at Coney Island) and for its early use of dialogue and two-color Technicolor. The film was restored by the George Eastman House and has found renewed popularity with repertory and film-festival audiences.
Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
Make Way for Tomorrow is a sensitive, progressive, issue-oriented Depression-era film by director Leo McCarey. It concerns an aged and indigent married couple forced by their self-absorbed children to live separately in order to save money. The final scene, depicting the husband and wife parting company in a train station, counters the belief that late-30s Hollywood films always had happy endings. Make Way for Tomorrow deftly explores themes of retirement, poverty, generational dissonance and the nuances of love and regret at the end of a long married life.
Malcolm X (1992)
Director Spike Lee’s biographical film about the life of civil rights leader Malcom X was produced in the classical Hollywood style. Featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington, the film exemplifies the willingness of the American film industry in the early ‘90s to support the making of mainstream films about earlier generations of social leaders.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
McCabe and Mrs. Miller is an aesthetically acclaimed film that demonstrates why the Western genre, especially when reinvented by acclaimed Robert Altman, endured in the 20th century as a useful model for critically examining the realities of contemporary American culture. The film’s credits include notable cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and a music score by Leonard Cohen.
Newark Athlete (1891)