Booze News: Add some alcohol to the National Film Registry

>> Friday, October 1, 2010

Alcohol has made an invaluable contribution to the history of American film. However, soused cinema is terribly underrepresented in the National Film Registry, the list of motion pictures selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. Now is your chance to change that!

Each year the board selects up to 25 films to add to the list, and amongst the factors that they weigh when selecting the films are suggestions from the general public.

You have until October 15th to forward your film recommendations to:

The only conditions regarding the your suggestions are:

  1. Each film must be at least 10 years old
  2. It should be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”
  3. You can recommend no more than 50 titles in a single year
Let's stuff the ballot boxes with alky-centric titles!!!

There are dozens of "booze movies" that can be considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Every major movie genre and trend from the silent era to the present day has in some way been tied to strong drink.
Silent soused slapstick, Prohibition gangster films, champagne-soaked screwball comedies, film noir, Westerns, soapy melodramas, 60’s swinger and spy cinema, antihero movies and angry young men films, and modern-day gross-out comedies all have one thing in common--liquor. Without alcohol, the history of film would be dramatically different.

Here are a handful of significant booze movies that should be in the National Film Registry. Please join my campaign to vote for these important soused cinema landmarks:

One A.M. (1916) - Charlie Chaplin's solo tour de force and the culmination of the drunken slapstick that he developed from his "Mumming Birds" stage act through his numerous liquor-laced Keystone and Essanay short subjects.

The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933) - Not only the funniest short subject ever produced. It's also a filmed record of W.C. Fields' "Stolen Bonds" stage sketch and a comedy that was far ahead of its time. The Fatal Glass of Beer was post-modern before the term existed.

It's A Gift (1934) - The only film that rivals The Bank Dick (already inducted into the Registry) as W.C. Fields' greatest film. It contains one of the longest sustained laugh sequences in the history of motion pictures--the immortal "front porch" scene.

The Lost Weekend (1945) - Prior to The Lost Weekend, alcoholism was portrayed as comedy relief or as the "shame of the nation." This was the first film to look at alcoholism seriously as a disease. This much-imitated film still packs a punch today.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) - Mike Nichols' film adaptation of Edward Albee's play was one of the first films to buck the old Production Code. The MPAA film rating system underwent changes as a direct result of this foul-mouthed work of art.

The Iceman Cometh (1973) - A great American film of a great American play! The Iceman Cometh is the best of the movies produced under the experimental banner of the American Film Theatre.

Recommend one or all of these, but join my campaign to get national recognition for these trailblazing soused cinema classics.



Donna Ross October 4, 2010 at 1:56 PM  

Thanks for mentioning the Library of Congress National Film Registry and encouraging Booze Movies readers to submit their nominations. You cited some terrific choices to be considered for the 2010 list of film titles to be preserved, and you showed stills from several Booze Movies already named to the Registry: ANIMAL HOUSE, THE THIN MAN, CASABLANCA, and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. I look forward to hearing from denizens of the Booze Movies blogosphere.

Donna Ross
Boards Assistant
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress

garv October 4, 2010 at 6:10 PM  


I'm glad you weren't upset about my plea for ballot-stuffing. Thanks to the board for all they do for film preservation and for drawing attention to classic motion pictures! Thanks also for previously enshrining my favorite film, THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK.


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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

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