‘Iron Man,’ ‘Little Mermaid’ Added to National Film Registry

Marvel’s original superhero blockbuster “Iron Man,” Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal’s classic romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” have been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

Every year, the Librarian of Congress names 25 motion pictures that are at least 10 years old and register as “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.

Other titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021 include Brian De Palma’s adaptation of “Carrie,” the John Waters musical “Hairspray,” the 1950 version of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” and the 1990s comedy “House Party.”

“Films have become absolutely central to American culture by helping tell our national story for more than 125 years. We are proud to add 25 more films by a group of vibrant and diverse filmmakers to the National Film Registry as we preserve our cinematic heritage,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We’re grateful to the entire film community for collaborating with the Library of Congress to ensure these films are preserved for the future.”

Turner Classic Movies will host a television special on Dec. 27 at 8 pm ET to screen a selection of motion pictures named to the registry this year.

Hayden will join TCM host, film historian and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Director and President Jacqueline Stewart, who is chair of the National Film Preservation Board, to discuss the films.

“I am especially proud of the way the Registry has amplified its recognition of diverse filmmakers, experiences and a wide range of filmmaking traditions in recent years,” Stewart said. “I am grateful to the entire National Film Preservation Board, the members of the public who nominated films and of course to Dr. Hayden for advocating so strongly for the preservation of our many film histories.”

This year’s selections date back 124 years with 1898’s “Mardi Gras Carnival” and include entries as recent as Dee Rees’ 2011 indie drama “Pariah.” Among 2022’s choices, at least 15 films were directed or co-directed by filmmakers of color, women or LGBTQ+ filmmakers. This year’s lineup brings the number of films in the registry to 850, many of which are among the 1.7 million films in the Library’s collections.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says he’s delighted that director Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man,” the film that popularized the Marvel Cinematic Universe, made the list.

“Iron Man was the very first film Marvel Studios independently produced,” Feige said in a statement. “It was the first film that we had all of the creative control and oversight on and it was really make or break for the studio.”

He adds, “All of our favorite movies are the ones that we watch over and over again and that we grow up with. The notion that here we are, almost 15 years after the release of ‘Iron Man,’ and to have it join the Film Registry tells us it has stood the test of time and that it is still meaningful to audiences around the world.”

“When Harry Met Sally,” one of the most quoted rom-coms, was deemed a defining work in its genre. It has managed to endure, according to Crystal, because “the movie is beautiful and simple and appropriate and every shot is just right. The timing, which is in the hands of Rob, who is, for this movie, a modern-day Billy Wilder… and it’s New York, it’s the fall, it’s the music.”

Dubbed by the Library of Congress as a landmark comedy, “House Party” starred Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell and spawned the careers of hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play.

“The day we shot the big dance number in ‘House Party’ is easily one of the best days of my life,” writer-director Reginald Hudlin said in a statement. “We had all the enthusiasm in the world, all the commitment in the world.”

The Oscar-nominated “Union Maids,” one of nine documentaries that were chosen this year, told the story of three female union workers in the 1930s.

“For the longest time, women’s voices, especially working-class women’s voices, were not respected let alone heard,” co-director Julia Reichert, who died earlier in December from cancer, wrote in a statement. “Documentaries presented men as the experts, the historians, the authorities. We hoped this film would just show you how vital, wise, funny and essential these women’s voices were and are, to the struggles of working people to get a better deal.”

Films selected for the 2022 National Film Registry
(chronological order)

  • Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)
  • Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
  • Charades (1963)
  • Scorpio Rising (1963)
  • Behind Every Good Man (1967)
  • Titicut Follies (1967)
  • Mingus (1968)
  • Manzanar (1971)
  • Betty Tells Her Story (1972)
  • Super Fly (1972)
  • Attica (1974)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Union Maids (1976)
  • Word is Out: Stories of Our Lives (1977)
  • Bush Mama (1979)
  • The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)
  • Itam Hakim, Hopiit (1984)
  • Hairspray (1988)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Tongues Untied (1989)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • House Party (1990)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Pariah (2011)

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