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Film Registry choices reflect pix’s diversity

Hollywood classics, independent features, documentaries, animation and experimental work comprised the fifth annual honor roll of the National Film Registry announced Tuesday.

The U.S. government program to preserve and protect American film heritage, administered by the Library of Congress, added 25 pix, including Cecil B. De Mille’s 1915 “The Cheat,” animated short “Magical Maestro,” musical “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and Kenneth Anger’s “Eaux d’artifice.”

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington presented this year’s list, stressing the “historic, cultural, and aesthetic significance” of the selections. The list, he said, “is not necessarily the best American films ever made, nor the most famous. The films represent many other films deserving of recognition.”

Among the better known choices were four winners of the best picture Oscar: “It Happened One Night,””An American in Paris,””The Godfather, Part II” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“A Night at the Opera” was the second Marx Brothers film to be selected for the registry.

“Shadows” and “Nothing But a Man,” two seminal works in the American independent sector, were also cited.

“Inside Nazi Germany,” a March of Time newsreel, and “Point of Order,” centering on the 1950s McCarthy hearings, demonstrated the breadth of documentary coverage.

Selections are made by the Library of Congress staff. Any American-made film, regardless of length, is eligible for consideration providing it is at least 10 years old.

This year’s selection appears to be the most eclectic and far-reaching yet. Every decade of feature filmmaking is repped by the titles, which include the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler “The Black Pirate,” Orson Welles’ noir thriller “Touch of Evil,” the horrific “Cat People” and sci-fi trend-setter “Blade Runner.”

The new titles also reflect a strong trend toward social issues. The 1916 drama “Where Are My Children” is considered one of the first feminist statements in cinema, while “Nothing But a Man” was a breakthrough work for its depiction of the black working class.

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