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“Jam Session”: National Film Registry #13

In the short film, “Jam Session,” Duke Ellington and his band perform “C Jam Blues.”  “Jam Session” is a “soundie,” the music videos of their day. These short musical films were produced largely between 1940 and 1946 for showing in Panorams, coin-operated film jukeboxes that were placed in nightclubs, bars, lounges and restaurants.  As Mark Cantor […]

“Dracula”: National Film Registry #12

In 2000, the National Film Registry recognized the timeless original “Dracula” starring the one and only Bela Lugosi.  This haunting tale, based on the novel by Bram Stoker, has never been far from the screen. Gary Rhodes said of the un-killable Count: “Few characters in the history of literature and film have proven as deathless […]

“The Hitch-Hiker”: National Film Registry #10

Though greatly out-numbered, female film directors have always been a part of the movie-making industry.  One of the very first, and still today, one of the very best was Ida Lupino.  Lupino began her career in front of the camera as an actress before transitioning to being behind it, bringing to the screen a meaningful […]

“The Great Dictator”: National Film Registry #9

Obviously no list devoted to great cinema can overlook the contributions of Charlie Chaplin.  Among his greatest films is this one, a brave political send-up from 1940 that was added to the National Film Registry in 1997. Extraordinarily timely when it came out, and in some ways, still, the silent film scholar Jeffrey Vance said about the intersection […]

“Broken Blossoms”: National Film Registry #8

“Broken Blossoms,” one of the great silents, was added to the National Film Registry in 1996.  Directed by D.W. Griffith, it starred his best-known muse, the ethereal Lillian Gish. Though, today, Griffith is a somewhat controversial figure, Ed Gonzalez, film editor of “Slant” magazine, says that, regardless, his influence on film cannot be ignored: “No dialectic approach […]

“Stagecoach”: National Film Registry #7

In 1995, one of the all-time great Westerns, “Stagecoach,” was added to the Registry.  Directed by that sagebrush master, John Ford, the film features–not surprisingly–John Wayne. Writer and archivist Scott Nollen noted of the film’s value and influence by saying: “Orson Welles, who named John Ford as his favorite filmmaker, claimed that he studied ‘Stagecoach,’ ‘over […]

“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”: National Film Registry #6

 In 1994, the National Film Registry welcomed Spielberg’s immortal “ET” to its list.  The beloved film that has forevermore encouraged us to “phone home,” was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas and C. Thomas Howell. The Library of Congress’s own Dave Gibson once wrote of the film: “‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’ […]