Oklahoma! (1955) - News Poster

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'Future,' 'Bullitt,' 'Valance' on National Film Registry

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.

The Robert Zemeckis film with its memorable Pepsi push wasn't the only icon of that era selected: Steven Spielberg's 1977 hit "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" also was included.

"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.

Eddie Albert Dies at 99

Eddie Albert Dies at 99
Eddie Albert, the versatile actor forever associated with the classic TV comedy Green Acres, died Thursday of pneumonia at his home in California; he was 99. Although he made his screen debut in 1938 and appeared in a number of films, Albert's film career took off considerably after his service in World War II, and in the 50s he embarked on a career that consisted primarily of acclaimed supporting roles in a variety of films, usually as the sidekick to the star. He was the photographer who tagged along with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (a role which earned him an Oscar nomination), played a cowardly army officer in Attack!, and provided comic relief as Ali Hakim in Oklahoma; other notable films in the 50s included I'll Cry Tomorrow, The Teahouse of the August Moon, and The Sun Also Rises. In 1965, though, Albert ascended to leading man status as the hero of the sitcom Green Acres, in which he played a New York attorney who yearned for the country life, and dragged his glamorous wife (Eva Gabor) to the tiny, eccentric town of Hooterville. His duet with Gabor of the show's title song was enough to earn him a place in pop culture history, but Albert continued to work practically non-stop after the show ended in 1971. As he aged, Albert also played more menacing, morally questionable characters, and earned a second Oscar nomination for The Heartbreak Kid, playing Cybill Shepherd's intimidating father. Though a number of the films and TV shows he appeared in were decidedly B-level, Albert always brought a sense of class and grace to his parts, whether they were dramatic or comedic. Albert is survived by his son, actor Edward Albert, a daughter, and two granddaughters. --Prepared by IMDb staff

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