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25 Classics Join U.S. Film Registry : * Cinema: 'Lawrence of Arabia' is among those selected for preservation by Library of Congress.

September 26, 1991|ROBERT M. ANDREWS | ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

WASHINGTON — A total of 25 movies, from David Lean's 1962 spectacular, "Lawrence of Arabia," to an obscure 1915 silent film titled "The Italian," were added Wednesday to the Library of Congress' registry of film classics deemed worthy of preservation.

"We are not in the Oscar nomination business," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best' American films of any kind ever made. But they are films that had and will continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic importance."

Today's additions bring to 75 the number of movies placed on the library's National Film Registry under a 1988 law that was intended to dramatize the need for preserving America's film heritage.

The new additions to the registry were selected from among 1,059 movies nominated by the public. The list was narrowed by the National Film Preservation Board, which includes representatives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the Screen Actors Guild of America and the National Society of Film Critics.

Billington made the final cut, after consultation with film experts at the Library of Congress.

"Each of the films we have selected . . . represents other films of its kind that deserve recognition and, most importantly, preservation," Billington said.

American movies are "a fragile and endangered species," Billington said. Roughly half of all movies made before 1950 already have been lost through deterioration of film stock.

He estimated it will cost $600 million to preserve the remaining 150 million feet of nitrate film in America that remains to be copied before it crumbles into powder.

"It's not a battle, on the whole, that we're winning," he said.

The 3-year-old law that created the National Film Registry expires Friday. Billington said he hopes Congress will extend the program to maintain public support for film preservation.

New Movie Classics

"The Battle of San Pietro" 1945

"The Blood of Jesus" 1941

"Chinatown" 1974

"City Lights" 1931

"David Holzman's Diary" 1968

"Frankenstein" 1931

"Gertie the Dinosaur" 1914

"Gigi" 1958

"Greed" 1924

"High School" 1968

"I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang" 1932

"The Italian" 1915

"King Kong" 1933

"Lawrence of Arabia" 1962

"The Magnificent Ambersons" 1942

"My Darling Clementine" 1946

"Out of the Past" 1947

"A Place in the Sun" 1951

"The Poor Little Rich Girl" 1917

"The Prisoner of Zenda" 1937

"Shadow of a Doubt" 1943

"Sherlock Jr." 1924

"Tevya" 1939

"Trouble in Paradise" 1932

"2001: A Space Odyssey" 1968

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