WASHINGTON -- It was Back to the Future in more ways than one when the Library of Congress added to the National Film Registry the popular 1985 comedy that helped introduce the world to product endorsement and advanced special effects.
Thursday's list of 25 pictures brings to 475 the number of "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant films selected by the Librarian of Congress to be preserved for all time.
"We're always a little short on the science fiction genre, and this year we wanted to get more entries from the 1970s," National Film Preservation Board staff director Stephen Leggett said.
Among the films also selected were car-chase classic "Bullitt" (1968); "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), John Ford's last great Western; Kevin Costner's epic "Dances With Wolves" (1990); New York film noir "The Naked City" (1948); Sidney Lumet's claustrophobic courtroom drama "12 Angry Men"; Humphrey Bogart's Hollywood satire "In a Lonely Place" (1950); Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical "Oklahoma!" (1955); the star-studded "Grand Hotel" (1932); William Wyler's "Wuthering Heights" (1939); and the Bette Davis masterpiece "Now, Voyager" (1942).
The films selected aren't necessarily the "best" or most popular films made, the Library noted, but are chosen for their artistic character, historical significance or their reflection of both the good and bad sides of American culture.
While Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly in "Back to the Future" tried to get back to the present day and Richard Dreyfuss' Ray Neary demanded to "speak to the man in charge" in "Close Encounters", the characters most remembered from "Bullitt" might have been a Dodge Charger and a Ford Mustang.
The film's 11-minute chase scene cemented Steve McQueen's iconic status, vindicated British director Peter Yates' decision to shoot the film in San Francisco instead of New York or Los Angeles and turned the Bay Area city into a prime location for movie shoots.
The latest list also bookends one of Hollywood's most enduring genres as two Westerns made 30 years apart made the cut.
"Liberty Valance" explored the end of the Wild West and its takeover by civilization and gave America one of its enduring taglines: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
"Dances With Wolves" comes at the other end of the shelf as it sought to rewrite the myth of the American West and helped revive the Western as a salable genre.
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