Popeye Makes National Film Registry

Everyone’s favorite spinach-swilling sailor man got some due respect when Librarian of Congress James H. Billington recently announced his annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry. Bringing the total number of films on the Registry to 400, this year’s crop includes such classics as the Elvis Presley fave Jailhouse Rock (1957), the sword-and-sandal epic Ben-Hur (1959), David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1978), Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), and Steven Speilberg’s Shindler’s List (1993).

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress makes a list of “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant motion pictures to add to the Registry. Each title inducted is assured preservation for all time, either through the Library’s massive motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers.

At No.19 on this year’s list is the 1936 Technicolor short Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor by renowned animators Max and Dave Fleischer. Aside from good writing an animation, the film stands out for its detailed, three-dimensional sets and the fact that it was twice the length of most cartoons of its day, which generally came in around eight minutes. The Paramount release was animated by Willard Bowsky, George Germanetti and Edward Nolan, with music and lyrics by Sammy Timburg, Bob Rothberg and Sammy Lerner.

The Librarian chose this year’s selections after evaluating nearly 1,000 titles nominated by the public and conducting intensive discussions with the Library’s Motion Picture division staff and the distinguished members and alternates of his advisory group, the National Film Preservation Board. The board also advises the Librarian on national film preservation policy.