Monday, January 14, 2008

Library of Congress Film Registry Picks for 2007

Well the list is out, and there are no films directed by African Americans, Latinas/os, Asian Americans, or Native Americans/American Indians on that list.

There are some films on the list for which I have fondness, and others that were just interesting to read about.

The ones for which I have fondness are as follows:

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) Dir. Dorothy Arzner
By the time this film came out Arzner was the only female director who was working at a major studio--as a director anyway. This film stars Maureen O'Hara as a struggling ballet dancer giving a feminist turn at a burlesque house. A really strong performance by O'Hara, and a meaty delivery by Lucille Ball as a fellow dancer.

In a Lonely Place (1950) Dir. Nicholas Ray
I know that people love Rebel Without A Cause, but this is my favorite Ray film. Starring the often under-rated Gloria Grahame (who was then married to Ray) and Humphrey Bogart as a WWII veteran whose war experiences have left him an awkward mixture of ethical misanthrope, and unstable vulnerable soul--perfect for his work as a screenwriter, but sabotaging his life as a human being. Grahame delivers a nuanced performance as the intelligent and sensual actress and neighbor with whom he has a love affair. Beautifully shot and emotionally intelligent film noir. The classic line in the film is "
I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me."

The Women (1939) Dir. George Cukor
When I saw this title on the list I was stunned. Not at the appearance of the title, but at the fact that it took until 2007 for it to be selected. Classic Hollywood cinema at its best with screenplay by
Clare Boothe Luce. Probably the anti-thesis to Dance, Girl, Dance, since they-who-shall-not-appear-on-screen, The Men, are at the center of the action, every motivation and thought, enacted by the all-star cast of women of the film's title.

Check out the rest of the list here

Endnote I:
A Raisin In the Sun (1961) Dir. Daniel Petrie
from a screenplay by Lorraine Hansberrybased on her play of the same name, was added in 2005, as was the documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) Dir. Steve James
Neither of these films were directed by African Americans, though aspects of African American life wholly comprised their subject matter. 2006 saw the inclusion of legendary jazz short, St. Louis Blues (1929) with Bessie Smith singing the title track, directed by Dudley Murphy who would also direct the jazz short Black and Tan (1929) featuring Duke Ellington and Fredi Washington, and The Emperor Jones (1933) with Paul Robeson in the title role, as well as the social drama One Third of A Nation (1939) about the horrors of tenement slums. 2006 also witnesses the addition of The Curse of Quon Gwon: When the Far East Mingles with the West (1916), but without credits it's unclear who wrote or directed this silent film short. Then there's Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles (1974) with Cleavon Little getting lead billing opposite Gene Wilder in this satire about the wild west. Finally, The T.A.M.I. Show (1964;I have yet to find out what this acronym stands for) which features performances from some of the best rock and r&b acts of the 1960s including James Brown doing some peerless dance moves. No directors of color among this, however some important African American and Asian American screen performances guaranteed to be preserved at least for the duration of the Library of Congress' existence.

Endnote II:
Thanks to Reggie H. for the info on T.A.M.I. = Teenage Awards Music International

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6 Comments:

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TAMI: Teenage Awards Music International

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