Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

August 24, 1995

National Tour of Classic Films Begins October 6 in Madison, Wisconsin

To celebrate American filmmaking, and to alert Americans to the need to preserve this priceless heritage, the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced today that a National Film Registry Tour will begin this October. The tour will bring a selection of National Film Registry titles to audiences around the country and will help to increase the public's awareness of the importance of film preservation.

In announcing the tour, Dr. Billington said, "Film is a powerful force in American culture and national life. Motion pictures, whether feature films, newsreels or avant-garde works, are both an art form and a record of our times. Our challenge is to protect and preserve those films in versions as close to their original state as possible. The tour presents a marvelous opportunity for many Americans to enjoy classic films on the large screens for which they were made."

The National Film Registry was created in 1988. The Registry recognizes the richness of American filmmaking, and each year 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films are added to it.

The films on tour were selected from the Registry to illustrate the diversity of American film production and include a broad range of film types, dates, and filmmakers.

The tour includes 28 feature films and 10 shorts. Audiences will see "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), "The River" (1937) and "Meshes of the Afternoon" (1943) as well as "Duck Soup" (1933), "On the Waterfront" (1954) and "Gigi" (1958).

First stop on the tour is Madison, Wisconsin, where the films will be shown at the Wisconsin Union Theater and Play Circle at the University of Wisconsin and the Oscar Mayer Theater at the Madison Civic Center beginning Friday, October 6. The Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, will host the tour the weekend of November 3. Other locations will be announced as plans are finalized. The goal is to bring the tour to at least one city in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The perilous state of America's film heritage was documented by the Library and the National Film Preservation Board in "Film Preservation 1993: A Study of the Current State of American Film Preservation." Film is a fragile medium and motion pictures, both old and new, face inevitable destruction. Of America's feature films of the 1920s, for example, fewer than 20 percent still exist. Only by storing films in low-temperature and low-humidity environments can their decay be slowed. The majority of American films do not receive this type of care and are in critical need of preservation.

Initial funding for the tour has been provided by the James Madison Council, the Library's private sector advisory board, and The Film Foundation, a group of leading film directors committed to film preservation. Motion picture studios have generously provided new prints of their titles. The preservation work of many organizations will be represented, including the Library, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Museum of Modern Art Film Department and the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.

(Program Subject to Change)


  • Chinatown (1974)
  • The Cheat (1915)
  • City Lights (1931)
  • Gigi (1958)
  • Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  • High School (1968)
  • Duck Soup (1933)
  • I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
  • The Learning Tree (1969)
  • The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  • Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)
  • Out of the Past (1947)
  • Raging Bull (1980)
  • My Darling Clementine (1946)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Ninotchka (1939)
  • Shane (1953)
  • On the Waterfront (1954)
  • Sunrise (1927)
  • Safety Last (1923)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  • Salt of the Earth (1954)
  • The Searchers (1956)
  • Within Our Gates (1920)
  • Touch of Evil (1958)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)


  • Big Business (1929)
  • The Battle of San Pietro (1945)
  • Castro Street (1966)
  • The Great Train Robbery (1903)
  • Eaux D'Artifice (1953)
  • The River (1937)
  • Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
  • What's Opera, Doc? (1957)
  • March of Time: Inside Nazi Germany--1938 (1938)
  • Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

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PR 95-116
ISSN 0731-3527

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