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Letters to the Library of Congress: Viewers' Passionate, Personal Suggestions for the National Film Registry

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire December 26, 2013 at 1:58PM

A staffer at the Library of Congress digs into the archives to show how people suggest movies for permanent preservation.
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Jaws

The Library of Congress has already named its 25 additions to the National Film Registry for 2013. But at RogerEbert.com, Cary O'Dell, who works in the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division, has a hugely enjoyable piece cataloguing some of the personal requests -- and occasional complaints -- the Library has gotten through the years. (That's one creative Spielberg's fan plea for Jaws at the head of this piece.) 

Although O'Dell's essay could stand to clarify the misperception that the National Film Registry is meant to represent the best films rather than the most historically significant ones, it's full of passionate and personal arguments about why certain films mean so much to certain people, like those for whom The Sand Pebbles reflects a connection to family members who served in the Vietnam War, as well as documents from the sporadic mass campaigns to admit movies like Somewhere in Time, spearheaded by a group called INSITE. (No luck there, sorry.) 

And then there are the complaints, like this one raging against a certain holiday classic: "How could you put that suicide movie with Jimmy Stewart on this list and leave out such happy Christmas movies as It Happened on Fifth Avenue?" How indeed.

The complete list of titles in the National Film Registry is here. What would you like to see them add?

This article is related to: From the Wire


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