In which I experiment on myself (with some help from the federal government)

As you probably have guessed, I like to mix things up on the site every now and again. I think you’ll like what I have in store this time.

A lot of you probably know what the National Film Registry is but just in case, here is a brief description. Every year since 1989, the National Film Preservation Board has selected up to twenty-five American films for permanent preservation. (Individuals can nominate up to fifty films each year and I highly recommend taking part in the process.)

These films are not the biggest or “best” American movies of all time. Rather, they are chosen based on whether they are deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and this has led to an extremely eclectic selection, as you can imagine. Another bonus is that, unlike other lists I could mention (cough, cough, AFI), silent films from all eras are given fair representation. 120+ out of the over 600 films now in the registry are silent, part-talkie or released in both silent and talkie formats.

An eclectic list with plenty of silent films? Do I like that? Yes, I do!

girl-with-a-hatbox-happy-dance

So, I am going to try to watch as many films on this list as I possibly can. I have made myself a personal list of the silent, part-talkie and silent/talkie releases that have been marked for preservation. Because the list is so varied, it will add some of that variety to my site and viewing experience. The project will be ongoing and will not adhere to any particular schedule. I look forward to seeing the results.

The complete list of selected films is available here but I have just listed the silent films in the collection. If I have reviewed a film on the list, I have provided a link. Happy reading!

I have reviewed over 230 films on this site as of this writing but only 24 are on the registry list. As you can see, a lot of work needs to be done. There are some films on the list that are not currently available to the general public and a couple of selections from D.W. Griffith, father of film rancid magnolia, but I do plan to cover as many of these pictures as I can.

Title Year
Newark Athlete 1891
Blacksmith Scene 1893
Dickson Experimental Sound Film 1894-1895
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze 1894
The Kiss 1896
Rip Van Winkle 1896
Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight 1897
Demolishing and Building Up the Star Theatre 1901
President McKinley Inauguration Footage 1901
The Great Train Robbery 1903
The Life of an American Fireman 1903
Westinghouse Works 1904 1904
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend 1906
San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906 1906
A Trip Down Market Street 1906
A Corner in Wheat 1909
Lady Helen’s Escapade 1909
Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy 1909
Jeffries-Johnson World’s Championship Boxing Contest 1910
White Fawn’s Devotion 1910
Little Nemo 1911
The Cry of the Children 1912
A Cure for Pokeritis 1912
From the Manger to the Cross 1912
The Land Beyond the Sunset 1912
Musketeers of Pig Alley 1912
Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day 1913
The Evidence of the Film 1913
Matrimony’s Speed Limit 1913
Preservation of the Sign Language 1913
Traffic in Souls 1913
The Bargain 1914
The Exploits of Elaine 1914
Gertie The Dinosaur 1914
In the Land of the Head Hunters 1914
Mabel’s Blunder 1914
The Perils of Pauline 1914
Tess of the Storm Country 1914
Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1914
The Wishing Ring: an Idyll of Old England 1914
The Birth of a Nation 1915
The Cheat 1915
Fatty’s Tintype Tangle 1915
A Fool There Was 1915
The Italian 1915
Regeneration 1915
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1916
Civilization 1916
The Curse of Quon Gwon 1916-1917
Hell’s Hinges 1916
Intolerance 1916
Shoes 1916
Where Are My Children? 1916
The Immigrant 1917
The Poor Little Rich Girl 1917
Unmasked 1917
Wild and Woolly 1917
The Blue Bird 1918
Broken Blossoms 1919
The Dragon Painter 1919
A Virtuous Vamp 1919
Daughter of Dawn 1920
Heroes All 1920
Humoresque 1920
The Last of the Mohicans 1920
The Making of an American 1920
The Mark of Zorro 1920
One Week 1920
Within Our Gates 1920
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1921
The Kid 1921
Manhatta 1921
Tol’able David 1921
Cops 1922
Foolish Wives 1922
Miss Lulu Bett 1922
Nanook of the North 1922
Sky High 1922
Two-Color Kodachrome Test Shots No. III 1922
Safety Last! 1923
Salomé 1923
The Chechahcos 1924
Greed 1924
The Iron Horse 1924
Peter Pan 1924
Sherlock, Jr. 1924
The Thief of Bagdad 1924
Solomon Sir Jones Films 1924-1928
Ben-Hur (1925) 1925
The Big Parade 1925
Clash of the Wolves 1925
The Freshman 1925
The Gold Rush 1925
Grass 1925
Lady Windermere’s Fan 1925
The Lost World 1925
The Phantom of the Opera 1925
The Black Pirate 1926
Ella Cinders 1926
Hands Up! 1926
Mighty Like a Moose 1926
So’s Your Old Man 1926
The Son of the Sheik 1926
The Strong Man 1926
Flesh and the Devil 1927
The General 1927
It 1927
The Jazz Singer 1927
The Life and Death of 9413: a Hollywood Extra 1927
Seventh Heaven 1927
Stark Love 1927
Sunrise 1927
Wings 1927
The Cameraman 1928
The Crowd 1928
The Docks of New York 1928
The Fall of the House of Usher 1928
The Last Command 1928
Lonesome 1928
Pass the Gravy 1928
The Power of the Press 1928
Show People 1928
Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928
There It Is 1928
The Wedding March 1928
The Wind 1928
Big Business 1929
H2O 1929
All Quiet on the Western Front 1930
City Lights 1931

14 Replies to “In which I experiment on myself (with some help from the federal government)”

  1. I am not sure if I am reading this correctly but the list you show from the silent era are up for preservation? If my take on this is right then I am aghast that many on your list was not already on their list. It should have been eons ago. Good luck in trying to watch all of these…I hope you do!

  2. Thank goodness… I thought they were going to shoot you into space or something. Seriously, though, this project sounds fascinating. Good luck, and I will keep reading!

    1. Yeah, safe as milk. I suppose it’s an improvement over that time when they declared “Birth of a Nation” to be the bestest silent film ever. Oy vey! rolleyes 🙄

      The registry’s list has a lot of famous stuff but it also has enough quirkiness to keep things very interesting. Huge improvement.

  3. Great idea, Fritzi. This may sound sarcastic but it is not: “Newark Athlete” is a fascinating film. The photographic quality of the early Edison stuff is unique. “A Trip Down Market Street” is also a favorite of mine.

  4. And here I was thinking this was about free government cheese block you were going to use in a recipe or medical brownies from a special dispensary. This is much better, I’d say.

    Still, the nuclear bunker stuff is amusing and disturbing, but at least the aliens who land after we Planet of Apes the place will have stuff to watch (and they hopefully won’t revere D.W. as much as some who think he’s the be-all, end all)… 😀

    1. Yes, let’s hope the aliens have better taste and decide that they just adore Rudolph Valentino. It would be amusing, though, if the aliens saw Birth of a Nation and ended up squishing D.W. with a large burning cross, similar to John Goodman’s demise in O Brother Where Art Thou. (Lillian Gish: “Mr. Griffith invented being squished by aliens. He created the grammar of alien squishing.”)

  5. I’m glad to see that you’re going to try this experiment! In fact, I was wondering if you’d been following it when I noticed your review of ‘A Fool There Was’ came out around the same time as 2015 inductees were announced.

    I’ve been following the NFR list for 3 years now, and I’ve come across some real treasures (and a few stinkers as well 🙂 ). I hope you find some treasures as well!

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