By BROOKS BOLIEK
WASHINGTON — As Rocky Balboa makes his big-screen comeback, the movie that launched the franchise 30 years ago and made Sylvester Stallone a household name was among 25 films named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress on Wednesday. ...
‘‘Rocky,’’ the Oscar winner for best picture of 1976, joined Mel Brooks’ outrageous comedy ‘‘Blazing Saddles’’ (1974), John Carpenter’s slasher classic ‘‘Halloween’’ (1978), the Coen brothers’ black comedy ‘‘Fargo’’ (1996) and Steven Soderbergh’s groundbreaking ‘‘sex, lies, and videotape’’ (1989) on this year’s selection of treasures that are guaranteed to be preserved forever.
The 2006 entrants span the years 1913-96 and feature performances by Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Bill Murray, Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne and late soul great James Brown and directors Alfred Hitchcock, Rouben Mamoulian and Raoul Walsh.
The National Film Registry list, begun in 1989, now numbers 450.
While the choices by Librarian of Congress James Billington spotlights some well-known films, it also features many lesser-known lights of the filmmakers’ art, including the only film recording of pioneering blues artist Bessie Smith, a 1913 exploitation film about the white slave trade, one of the first rock concert movies and even a home movie.
‘‘The annual selection of films to the National Film Registry involves far more than the simple naming of cherished and important films to a prestigious list,’’ Billington said. ‘‘The registry should not be seen as the Kennedy Center Honors, the Academy Awards or even America’s most beloved films. Rather, it is an invaluable means to advance public awareness of the richness, creativity and variety of American film heritage and to dramatize the need for its preservation.’’
Billington made his selections from more than 1,000 titles nominated by the public after lengthy discussions with the library’s motion picture division staff and members of the National Film Preservation Board.
Congress created the registry in 1989 to preserve films of cultural, historical and artistic significance. Selection in the National Film Registry singles out films for preservation either in the Library of Congress’ own archive or facilities elsewhere.