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  • Carrie Specht

Films Inducted Into 2020 National Film Registry Air on TCM

The National Film Registry is an institution set up to protect and preserve the great films of American history. To be admitted to the registry a film must have artistic merrit and contribute to the national artistry, and have cultural, historic or aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage. Every year only twenty-five films are selected to join, what is now still a rather short list of over seven hundred and fifty.

TCM, the old movie channel with their fingure on the pulse of the classic film events of the day, will air the films inducted into the 2020 National Film Registry.



This is actually a pretty cool opportunity to gain some perspective on what is considered to be the best of the best American cinema according to an impartial board of judges. Other list tend to be motivated by nostalgia or the outdated scolastic work of so called experts who tend to read to much into the motivations by filmamkers. I like to consider a films entertainment value in balance with what it brings to the advancement or contribution to the art form. I realize that by using the term, "art form", I may be placing myself in the class of those who over dissect the meaning of every movie. There are just those films that you know have made a difference, and those that have not. I'll admit, I have not seen many of them. Now is the time to rectify the situation.


Tune in tomorrow, Dec. 15, as TCM Host Jacqueline Stewart and Dr. Carla Hayden of The Library of Congress introduce six films from this year’s list of honorees. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) celebrates these extrordinary films as examples of truly great cinema. A few are personal favorites of mine, and I suspect there will a title or two with which you will also be familiar. Films in the tribute are as follows:


At 8:00pm (EST) The Battle of the Century (1927) will have its TCM premiere. Which is a bit astonding considering it is a Laurel and Hardy silent. What makes this stand out from the other laugh-filled films of the famous duo is the use of 3,000 pies in its fight scene. This is perhaps a common expectation for silent film comedies, however, it is the first time the pastry prop was used in such abundance and the sequesnce was largely missing until 2015.


Lilies of the Field (1963) screens at 8:30pm EST. Sidney Poitier received the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of an itinerant handyman in the Southwest who helps a group of German nuns build a chapel. I can not over state my affection for this film. I think its perfect, and challenge anyone to say that it does not resonate today.


Illusions (1982) will be another TCM Premiere when it airs at 10:15pm EST. In 1942, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star are forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo. That's what the description says. I can not add anything to that as I have never heard of this film, let alone seen it. We shall discover this film together.


Now this one I know. I saw The Joy Luck Club when it first came out in 1993. Although a TCM Premiere at 11:00pm EST, it is likely that the main audience for the channel have already seen the film. Having said that, I am eager to see it again for the first year after nearly thirty years. Ming-Na is the featured actress in this story about four Asian-American women who work through complicated relationships with their respective mothers.


I can say that I am more familiar with Cabin in the Sky (1943) which will be on air at 1:30am EST. This is a particulalry interesting selection as it is director Vincente Minnelli's first credited feature film and it features an all black cast in a musical about God and Satan battling for the soul of a wounded gambler. The impressive cast includes Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson.


Finally, The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) screens at 3:15am EST. The film has garned a lot of praise over the years, and I'm embarrassed to say I have never seen it. I know that the great Otto Preminger directed it, and Saul Bass created an amazing poster for it. Other than that, Frank Sinatra plays a junkie who must face his true self to kick his drug addiction. Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker also star.


And there you have it. If you'd like to see the complete list of of The National Film Registry inductees of 2020 use the image above as a link to the institutions website.