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National Film Registry Criterion Titles

by Eric Levy

Created 07/14/12

Edit List

These Criterion titles are on the Library of Congress National Film Registry, which began in 1989. Films are sorted by year of entry in the Registry, which is listed in the notes, followed by the year of release. In three cases, shorts from collections are included.

The Registry featured 575 films when I created this list, 45 of which were Criterion titles. There are now 650 films in the Registry, 71 of which are Criterion titles. I will continue to update as necessary.

PS. 8/1/14: I have recently read both volumes of AMERICA'S FILM LEGACY by Daniel Eagan. I highly recommend Mr. Eagan's books to my fellow Film Registry enthusiasts.

Directors with multiple films: Chaplin 4, Cassavetes 3, Ford 3, Lubitsch 2, Malick 2, Albert and David Maysles 2, Newmeyer and Taylor 2, Sternberg 2, Sturges 2

Cross-references to my other lists are included in the notes.

Personal statistics: S=Seen, D=Own on DVD, B=Own on Blu-ray Disc, *=non-Criterion edition. Totals: Films: 71, Seen 71, Own 54, DVDs 29, BDs 31. (And of the 650 films currently in the Registry, I've seen 634.)

UPDATES:
8/18/15: Added IN COLD BLOOD and DONT LOOK BACK (two new additions in one month!), bringing the total to 71 titles.
4/16/15: Added THE BLACK STALLION, bringing the total to 69 titles.
12/17/14: The 2014 additions were announced today. ROSEMARY'S BABY, which was my first pick below (see my December 1, 2014 comment), is the only Criterion film. There are now 68 Criterion titles on the Registry.
12/16/14: Added THE THIN BLUE LINE, bringing the total to 67 titles.
8/16/14: Added IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, TOOTSIE, and GARLIC IS AS GOOD AS TEN MOTHERS (three new additions in one month!), bringing the total to 66 titles.
7/16/14: Added MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, bringing the total to 63 titles.
6/17/14: Added ERASERHEAD, bringing the total to 62 titles.
5/16/14: Added ALL THAT JAZZ, bringing the total to 61 titles.
2/18/14: Added RED RIVER, bringing the total to 60 titles.
12/23/13: I've looked at the Martha Graham disc. The Film Registry added four films of Graham's work this year, including APPALACHIAN SPRING. The film added to the Registry is a silent version from 1944, not the 1958 sound version included on Criterion's MARTHA GRAHAM-DANCE ON FILM set. As it happens, there are excerpts from the 1944 version included on the Criterion disc as a bonus, but as it is not the entire film, it is not eligible for this list. So, alas, we are back to a total of 59 titles.
12/18/13: The 2013 additions were announced today. Just one Criterion title was added: the Martha Graham short APPALACHIAN SPRING (I'm researching whether this is the same film). There are now 60 Criterion titles on the Registry.
12/17/13: Added THE FRESHMAN, bringing the total to 59 titles.
9/16/13: Added NASHVILLE, bringing the total to 58 titles.
8/15/13: Added CITY LIGHTS, bringing the total to 57 titles.
5/15/13: Added TO BE OR NOT TO BE, bringing the total to 56 titles.
3/19/13: Added SAFETY LAST!, bringing the total to 55 titles.
2/15/13: Added MEDIUM COOL and 3:10 TO YUMA (two new additions in one month!), bringing the total to 54 titles.
12/19/12: The 2012 additions were announced today. Four Criterion titles were added: ANATOMY OF A MURDER, SLACKER, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP. There are now 52 Criterion titles on the Registry.
12/16/12: Added BADLANDS, bringing the total to 48 titles.
11/15/12: Added ON THE WATERFRONT, bringing the total to 47 titles.
10/31/12: Added THE NAKED CITY (thanks briclegg!), bringing the total to 46 titles.
9/18/12: Added KOYAANISQATSI, bringing the total to 45 titles.

55 comments

  • By prtkahn
    February 28, 2014
    09:28 PM

    Just looking at your list here, Eric, it appears that the gatekeepers at the NFR sure do love Cassavetes--but who doesn't?
    Reply
    • By Eric Levy
      March 01, 2014
      05:41 AM

      You know it's interesting--if you look at the number of *Criterion* directors on the Registry, you're right, Cassavetes is second only to Chaplin, and that is certainly something to celebrate. But if you expand the picture to look at the entire Registry, things get a bit more complex. I've kept careful track of directors with multiple entries in the Registry. John Ford leads the pack with ten--unsurprising and certainly well deserved. The uneven William Wyler is second with nine, followed by Howard Hawks and George Stevens with seven each. I won't go through the entire list here, but to my mind there are some frustrating statistics: Steven Spielberg for instance has five films on the Registry. Again, understandable, and though I'm not a huge fan, I can see how they deserve their place on the list. But Spielberg gets five when John Cassavetes, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick only have three each??? Other Criterion directors who I feel are underrepresented on the Registry: Josef von Sternberg (3), Fritz Lang (2), Samuel Fuller (1). O well, it wouldn't be a film list if geeks like us didn't complain about it ;-) PS. I just commented on your Flashbacks list.
  • By Eric Levy
    December 01, 2014
    04:33 AM

    It's December again, always an exciting month for Film Registry fans. You can keep your Christmas, the 12th month of the year is always about the new NFR announcements for me. Not sure if anyone is reading these comments, but I thought it would be fun to make some predictions before the new announcements are made (usually around the 17th of the month). So I've picked 20 Criterion titles that I think are likely candidates for inclusion on the Registry--some of which are conspicuous in their absence. These are in order of obviousness. (I'm cutting and pasting this from a Word document I made. Hopefully the numbering will work and the list will be readable.) We'll see how I did when the announcements are made in a few weeks. Please share any thoughts or any titles you think I missed that might also make the list. 1. Rosemary’s Baby 2. Island of Lost Souls 3. Bigger Than Life 4. Body and Soul 5. Ace in the Hole 6. The Scarlet Empress 7. Crumb 8. Monterey Pop 9. Paris, Texas 10. Pickup on South Street 11. Rushmore 12. Wise Blood 13. Zorn’s Lemma 14. For All Mankind 15. Heaven Can Wait 16. My Dinner With Andre 17. Native Land 18. The Palm Beach Story 19. George Washington 20. Spellbound
    Reply
    • By JohnnyC.
      December 08, 2014
      08:59 PM

      I did submit nominations to the registry this year and here are some Criterion films I submitted: Alambrista! (1977) Being John Malkovich (1999) Crumb (1995) For All Mankind (1989) Gimme Shelter (1971) It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) The Life Aquatic (2004) The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Monsieur Verdoux (1947) The Naked Kiss (1964) Rebecca (1940) Rushmore (1998) Sid and Nancy (1986) As for predictions I think Fahrenheit 9/11 (another one I nominated) will become one of the films to get in within 10 years of it's release.
    • By Eric Levy
      December 09, 2014
      08:26 AM

      Duh! GIMME SHELTER. Yeah, that's a no-brainer. There are definitely too few concert films on the Film Registry (thought I'm very fond of the ones that are there). I like how our lists overlap a bit. FAHRENHEIT is definitely a good guess, though sometimes I feel they pick a film by a director and then feel they don't need another one for quite a while (or sometimes ever in the case of women and experimental directors). So since ROGER & ME got picked last year, they may feel there's no need for another Michael Moore film any time soon. We'll see. Less than two weeks until the new announcement! And thanks for responding to my post Johnny. It means a lot to me.
    • By Eric Levy
      December 09, 2014
      10:53 AM

      "though I'm very fond"
  • By JohnnyC.
    December 15, 2014
    09:11 PM

    I was watching a thing on the NFR last Sunday I thought it was interesting. I didn't know that they kept TV shows (ex. Dallas, Mad Men), commercials, internet videos (ex. Keyboard Cat), and video games (ex. Super Mario Bros.) in there. Did you know about that? And if you wanted to know I watched this on CBS News Sunday Morning, it repeats sometimes on the Smithsonian Channel.
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    December 16, 2014
    04:33 AM

    The Reply button hasn't been working lately, but his is a response to your post Johnny. Yes, it's very cool that preservation--of everything--has become so important. There's another cool 8-minute doc on preservation and the NFR here: http://vimeo.com/99548423.
    Reply
  • By JohnnyC.
    December 17, 2014
    02:34 PM

    The inductees were announced today! The Big Lebowski (which I'm surprised got in) and Saving Private Ryan were the only films I nominated that got in. 13 Lakes is now the 5th film to get in within 10 years. I can't believe that Rosemary's Baby is the only Criterion film to get in this year. What do you think about the inductees Eric?
    Reply
    • By JohnnyC.
      December 17, 2014
      03:31 PM

      No, it was Rio Bravo not The Big Lebowski I nominated.
  • By Eric Levy
    December 17, 2014
    04:36 PM

    I would say it's an odd year even by Film Registry standards. I'm very pleased about ROSEMARY'S BABY, which was long overdue, but nothing else excited me that much. I'm not a huge Spielberg fan, and SPR left me cold, so that one disappointed me. Otherwise, I've seen 9 of this year's choices and mostly like them all, though again, nothing that really blows me away. And as a friend pointed out, three Fox musicals in one year seems excessive. I certainly understand WILLY WONKA's inclusion, but as the same friend noted, if they're going to add a warped children's film, where's THE 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T? And to be honest, I'm glad John Hughes is finally included, but FERRIS before THE BREAKFAST CLUB? Crazy. For that matter, I would have done BLOOD SIMPLE before BIG LEBOWSKI. But oh well, they didn't ask me. And the Film Registry is as good a list to argue over as any. By the way, 13 LAKES is the 6TH film entered on its first year eligible--after RAGING BULL, DO THE RIGHT THING, GOODFELLAS, TOY STORY, and FARGO. Pretty impressive. I'm most excited about the Samuel Fuller footage, which is available on a French DVD. Gotta get that now. THE PAINTED DRAGON is available from Milestone. The other silents seem unavailable, but I found FELICIA, MOON BREATH BEAT, and THE WAY OF PEACE online. How about you? What are your thoughts?
    Reply
    • By JohnnyC.
      December 17, 2014
      08:47 PM

      I thought it was an odd year too. Willy Wonka, Rosemary's Baby, Rio Bravo, and Little Big Man seemed like they were going to get in eventually. I think the only reason Big Lebowski got in was only because of how much a cultural influence it has become. I'm shocked that the NFR hasn't put in any mainstream 2000s films yet. I think the films that were snubbed were: LotR: Fellowship of the Ring , Blue Velvet, Amadeus, Return of the Jedi, Cinderella (the Disney version), Monsieur Verdoux, Being John Malkovich, and A Clockwork Orange. But hey we still got the National Recording Registry to look forward to.
  • By TruffautBergman
    December 17, 2014
    09:46 PM

    Great list, what's your favorite 'National Film Registry' title, and what's your favorite Criterion Collection title?
    Reply
  • By TruffautBergman
    December 18, 2014
    12:31 PM

    Also, I wanted to tell you I accidentally deleted my "Pagan Poetry: A Different Kind of Love" list and remade it; sorry all your comments 'disappeared', please comment again if you can think of any more film titles. Is the 'National Film Registry' like the Criterion Collection?
    Reply
    • By Eric Levy
      December 19, 2014
      04:55 AM

      To reply to both of your posts: ERASERHEAD answers both favorite questions. Not sure what you mean by "like." They're both incredible lists of mostly great movies, and this list proves that there is plenty of overlap, but the Registry is even more far-reaching in scope than the Collection, and that's part of what I like about it. Click on the link at the top of the introduction and check out the entire list. Wikipedia's NFR page is very helpful and sortable too. Seeing so many Registry films has been an unparalleled film education.
  • By ericgarfield31
    May 13, 2015
    10:17 AM

    Great idea. Will definitely try to watch some of these. Wish I had more money to buy them on Blu-ray from Criterion. :)
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    May 13, 2015
    03:00 PM

    Always great to have another Eric leaving comments ;-) Yes, the Film Registry is a great place to learn about the history of American cinema. Watching the entire thing has been an incredible film education. The only comparable one I can think of would be watching the entire Criterion Collection, which I am now doing (slowly). It's cool that the two lists overlap as much as they do.
    Reply
    • By ericgarfield31
      June 10, 2015
      11:43 AM

      Is your Black Stallion update from 2015 or 2014?
  • By Eric Levy
    June 11, 2015
    10:59 AM

    Eric, it looks like you commented here again, and it didn't show up. The Reply button hasn't been working lately on the entire site, so just post responses as new posts. Sometimes an old one shows up when there's a new comment posted. Fingers crossed.
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    June 11, 2015
    11:01 AM

    There it is. Good catch. And thanks for keeping me on my toes. Glad someone's paying attention ;-)
    Reply
  • By ericgarfield31
    August 17, 2015
    05:43 PM

    I think there's a new one! Bob Dylan doc?
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    August 18, 2015
    05:41 AM

    You are correct sir! IN COLD BLOOD too. I love when two new NFR titles get added to the collection in one month.
    Reply
    • By ericgarfield31
      August 18, 2015
      05:10 PM

      check order for #58/59 i think. keep up the good work! this is my favorite list on criterion's website.
  • By Eric Levy
    August 18, 2015
    09:51 PM

    Hey Eric. Looks like you responded and it didn't show up. The Reply function hasn't been working for a while, Just leave new messages when you reply. Sometimes they show up when there's a new message. Fingers crossed.
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    August 18, 2015
    09:53 PM

    Worked! And good catch. I fixed it. And thanks for the compliment. How many of these have you seen?
    Reply
  • By ericgarfield31
    August 19, 2015
    11:56 AM

    I've seen 32 from this list. Own 30 of those.
    Reply
  • By ericgarfield31
    August 19, 2015
    12:17 PM

    It looks like the NFR always announces new titles on the third Wednesday of every December. Excited to find out on Dec. 16, 2015!
    Reply
  • By ericgarfield31
    August 19, 2015
    03:15 PM

    I thought my collection was big! http://www.forbes.com/video/4421781008001/ I like how his enjoyment of the packaging adds to his excitement.
    Reply
  • By Eric Levy
    August 20, 2015
    01:19 PM

    Yes, December is always an exciting month!
    Reply