"Bambi", "Silence of the Lambs" among U.S. film treasures

Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:56pm EST
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(Reuters) - The U.S. National Film Registry on Wednesday named 25 films to be preserved as cultural treasures ranging from the 1942 Walt Disney classic, "Bambi," to the 1991 psychological thriller "The Silence of the Lambs."

The film list also includes the Academy Award-winning "Forrest Gump" starring Tom Hanks and the post-war noir film "The Big Heat," set in a fictional US town that examined domestic life in the 1950s. It includes Hollywood features, documentaries and animation, spanning the period 1912 to 1994.

The latest films were selected from 2,228 films nominated by the public, bringing the total number of films in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress to 575.

"These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture," said Librarian of Congress James Billington in a statement.

Independent filmmaking pioneer director and writer John Cassavetes' "Faces," (1968) that criticized middle class America was selected along with "I, an Actress" (1977) by low-budget filmmaker George Kuchar whose outlandish sensibilities inspired other directors such as John Waters.

Early films included "The Cry of the Children," and "A Cure for Pokeritis," -- both from 1912 -- as well as Charlie Chaplin's first feature, the silent classic, "The Kid" (1921).

"Stand and Deliver" (1988), directed by Cuban-born Ramon Menendez, highlighted the 1980s wave of films by Latino filmmakers, and "Hester Street" (1975), shot in black and white and partly in Yiddish, showed Eastern European Jewish life in the United States that was initially shunned by Hollywood.

Other films included Billy Wilder's drama about alcoholism, "The Lost Weekend" (1945), John Ford's 1924 western "The Iron Horse," and "Norma Rae" (1979) which starred Sally Field as an unlikely single mother activist trying to improve work conditions.

Composer George Gershwin "Porgy and Bess" (1959) marked the rise of the civil rights movement as some black actors turned down roles and "The Negro Soldier" (1944) showcased the heroism of black soldiers and became mandatory viewing for all soldiers.

Animations included a one-minute film by Pixar Animation Studios' co-founder Ed Catmull, "A Computer Animated Hand" (1972) that is one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. Documentaries included "Growing up Female" that gave a portrait of the US women's liberation movement in the early 1970s.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Jill Serjeant)