The only-25-per-year limit of movies that can be added to the National Film Registry is an integral part of the excitement/frustration cinephiles feel on the unveiling of the list at the end of the year. The all-too-human compulsion to speculate on the motives and politics of the Registry's board was particularly strong in this observer as he looked over this year's selections. Forrest Gump, huh? Well, score one for Dave Kehr, the board's representative for the National Society of Film Critics, both an outspoken Gump booster and general Zemeckis defender. On the other hand...here's Silence of the Lambs, the film that I believe ruined Demme for Kehr (the critic had once nursed hopes that the director could have become the American Renoir). I can just see the maneuvering going on around the table...well, no, actually I can't. But still. In any event, one of the more exciting pictures on the list is Otto Preminger's 1959 Porgy and Bess, a picture that's been almost impossible to see in any halfway decent presentation for pretty much...well, for pretty much the length of my own movie-going life, something a couple of hairs over four decades. (A couple years back I sprung for something along the lines of a bootleg German DVD of the film...I know, I'm completely anti-bootleg, but forgive me Lord, I was weak. In any event, it's completely worthless, unwatchable.) I'm not near my reference library at the moment, but from what I can recall the availability of the film for screening or video release has been pretty much sat upon, since not very long after the film's theatrical release, by the Gershwin estate. Now selection into the Registry means something more than just a sort of critical seal of approval from a government agency. No, it dictates that the film be "preserved as [a] cultural, artistic and historical [treasure] in the [...] Registry of The Library of Congress." In the case of a relatively recent and well-disseminated picture such as, say, Gump and/or Lambs, that's not such a huge deal to achieve. For something like Porgy and Bess—not to mention other obscure-to-the-general-public pictures such as A Cure For Pokeritis and The Cry of the Children, both made in 1912, George Kuchar's 1977 I, An Actress, and even Cassavetes' 1968 Faces—it's a different matter, and "preservation" might also entail restoration. Does this mean a rep-house revival of Porgy and Bess, complete with an eventual Blu-ray release? Not necessarily. But by naming the film to the Registry, its board is, in a sense, forcing the issue in a particular way. It will be interesting and hopefully gratifying to see what results from this gambit.
UPDATE: The always gracious and informative Mr. Kehr clears up a bunch of things for us in the comments section, like so.