Tuesday, December 27, 2005

National Film Registry's list for 2005

This morning the annual list of 25 films that will be preserved for posterity by the National Film Registry was released. The whole list is here. As usual, they have a bunch of good but pretty standard entries (Cool Hand Luke, Giant, Miracle on 34th Street, A Raisin in the Sun and others), several films of historical importance (like footage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) and a few real surprises that keep me convinced that the folks picking the films really love movies of all kinds and know what they're talking about.

Back in 1996, the very first list of 25 movies included This Is Spinal Tap, which showed they were off to a good start, but this year they've continued that trend. Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are great and deserving choices, as is Mom and Dad. Lest you should think I'm implying RHPS is a "great film", I'm not, but it (and its cult following) is undeniably significant and influential in the history of film and belongs on the list every bit as much as The Music Man, plus it's way more fun than The freaking Music Man.

Mom and Dad is a fantastic choice. The most influential of all the "personal hygeine" explotation films, it's one of the most successful independent films of all time (take that, Blair Witch Project) and toured the country for years. It's a low-budget sexploitation film, but was always shown to single-gender adult audiences as an educational film about the importance of having frank and informative dicussions with your teenaged children about sex. Because it usually included some nude shots and/or graphic footage of a live birth, depending upon how much the exhibitor could get away with in each town, audiences got their share of shock and tittilation but without the guilt of having seen a "dirty movie", because it was educational, you see. Little booklets about the film's subject matter (sex! but it's educational!) were also sold at the screenings, ensuring more cash flowed to the exhibitor. Joe Bob Briggs' excellent book Profoundly Disturbing : The Shocking Movies that Changed History has a chapter on Mom and Dad that tells the complete story of this film's strange history. I wish some enterprising soul would put the film on DVD. There are umpteen versions of Reefer Madness out there; shouldn't we be able to see Mom and Dad too?

1 comment:

  1. I was excited to see the Registry's list this year, too. I knew you'd enjoy the fact that RHPS was on it :) To be honest, though, I don't really get people's big love for Giant. I've seen the movie a couple of times, and quite frankly I find it more than a little muddled. It's a movie that changes its mind too often, and doesn't clue the audience in when it does. In the end I'm always left asking "What is this movie trying to say?" because I just can't tell. The thing is gorgeously shot and utterly confused.