‘Empire Strikes Back,’ ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ ‘Airplane!’ And 22 More Added to National Film Registry

The Force is strong with “The Empire Strikes Back“… and the 24 other motion pictures that were named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry on Tuesday, bringing the list’s grand total to 550 movies.

Also making the Registry were Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 Woodward-and-Bernstein Watergate thriller “All the President’s Men,” the wacky 1980 comedy “Airplane!,” the 1973 horror blockbuster “The Exorcist,” Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic “Malcolm X,” Blake Edwards’ 1964 comedy “The Pink Panther,” Robert Altman’s 1971 Western “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” John Huston’s 1946 war doc “Let There Be Light” and Elia Kazan’s 1945 feature debut “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and John Badham’s 1977 John Travolta-starring disco flick “Saturday Night Fever,” “The Front Page” (1931), “It’s a Gift” (1934), “Make Way for Tomorrow” (1937), “Cry of Jazz” (1959) and “I Am Joaquin” (1969).

It was an especially good day for George Lucas. In addition to 1980’s “Empire,” the second installment in his original “Star Wars” trilogy, the filmmaker saw his 15-minute student flick “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” — which he made while attending USC in 1967 and which provided the basis for the feature-length “THX 1138″ — earn a spot in the Library’s coveted catalog.

Not to be confused with a “best American movies of all time” list, the National Film Registry seeks to preserve 25 films each year that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant to the United States. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to make sure that copies of these films are archived and preserved.

“As the nation’s repository of American creativity, the Library of Congress — with the support of Congress — must ensure the preservation of America’s film patrimony,” James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, said. “The National Film Registry is a reminder to the nation that the preservation of our cinematic creativity must be a priority because about half of the films produced before 1950 and as much as 90 percent of those made before 1920 have been lost to future generations.”

Which films do you think are the most vital to America “culturally, historically or aesthetically”? Tell us in the comments