National Film Registry selects <em>Little Nemo</em> National Film Registry selects <em>Little Nemo</em>
Cartoon Culture

National Film Registry selects Little Nemo

Each year the National Film Preservation Board of The Library of Congress names 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant films to the National Film Registry, a collection of movies selected to be preserved for all time. In previous years, Chuck Jones’ What’s Opera Doc?, Bob Clampett’s Porky In Wackyland, Fleischer’s Snow White (1933), Pixar’s Toy Story and several Disney titles including Steamboat Willie and Three Little Pigs have made the grade.

The 2009 selections were just announced this morning and animation was represented by Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo (1911), Sally Cruikshank’s Quasi at the Quackadero (1975), Janie Geiser’s art film, The Red Book (1994) and Helen Hill’s Cal Arts short, Scratch and Crow (1995).

Animation is also ultilized in two other shorts selected — Sidney Peterson’s avant-garde The Lead Shoes (1949), and Chuck Workman’s DGA montage, Precious Images (1986) which contains fleeting seconds of Fritz The Cat, Roger Rabbit, Song of the South, King Kong and others.

Though not animation, it should be noted that Jim Henson’s The Muppet Movie (1979; directed by James Frawley) also made this year’s selection. Check the complete list here. For your enjoyment, McCay’s pioneering Little Nemo is embedded below:

  • Jenny

    Bless dear old Winsor, father to us all whether we know it or not.

    The animation from 9:26 onward is amazing in its subtlety, observation and charm. Wow.

  • Donald C.

    Spectacular choice.

  • I’m a big fan of Dr. Pill in particular.

    Can somebody please name all of the friends in the opening?

  • Mr. Pencil

    The other two characters are Flip & Impie. Those rushing past on the Disney freeway might consider slowing down a bit for McCay. Even today animation is still being built on what this guy originated. Some of his ideas have only materialized in recent years (such as envisioning moving animation in a gallery context). I’d recommend to anyone who becomes lost on exactly what a cartoonist is to read McCay’s letter to Claire Briggs.

  • Diz Gruntled

    Quasi at the Quackadero? Sally sure must have a lot of friends in Washington!

  • Mr. Pencil, were you trying to answer my question? Because I meant, who were Winsor’s friends, the other cartoonists?

  • Iritscen

    Every time I see this I’m impressed at how solidly-drawn and imaginative Winsor’s drawings were. Never saw the “making of” part before, that was cute.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Finally! Also kudos to Cruikshank’s film as well!

    Although I’ve seen Little Nemo many times before, that image for the YouTube link still gets to me, the giant boxes of paper and barrels of ink, that’s exactly what you’d need!

  • Heather

    I’m happy to see more animation titles in this year’s list of significant films. They picked some beautiful creative films, and I hope they continue to select great animation each year.

  • I think it’s pretty cool to see the evolution of animation get well represented on the list. I will admit though that I’m even happier that a Sergio Leone film is on the list (westerns were invented by Americans but they were perfected by Italians).

  • NicKramer

    Nice Winsor McCay short. Just saw it for the first time at the Wexner Center almost two months ago.

  • Quasi at the Quackadero is a good film, but the Fleischer and Van Buren films it “payed homage” to aren’t on the registry yet. Neither is Rooty Toot Toot.

  • detour

    It is nice to see Helen Hill on this list. She was a rich talent and a thoughtful instructor who was taken way too early in life. Everyone who ever came into contact with her remembers that spark of a moment. My world is less bright without her in it.

  • Lucky Jim

    Great choices. I’m particularly fond of “Quasi at the Quackadero,” which still manages to be hypnotic and bizarre after all these years.

  • gatebuilder

    Chris Garrison says:
    I’m a big fan of Dr. Pill in particular. Can somebody please name all of the friends in the opening?

    The only one of the “friends” I know for sure is John Bunny who was a popular regular player at Vitagraph in those days, in fact one of the alternate titles for “Little Nemo” was “Winsor McCay Explains His Moving Cartoons to John Bunny”. The only other cast member listed at besides Windsor McCay was George McManus of “Bringing Up Father” fame. According to his bio he would have been 27 years old at the time of this film. My guess is that he is the guy seated to the right of John Bunny at the beginning of the film. Maybe others have more information. It certainly would be interesting to know if the other people were fellow cartoonists of the day or actors.

  • Mark Newgarden

    McManus doesn’t seem to be this one but he is in GERTIE which has a similar wraparound.

  • droosan


    ..bringing ‘the illusion of life’ into felt hand/rod puppets (to the point that many think of the characters as ‘real’ actors) is NOT animation..? o_O

  • MadRat

    I’m glad I watched this. I never realized that the same man made the Little Nemo comic strip (which I adore), did a little Nemo cartoon (which surprised me not only how early it was made but also in color) but also did Gertie the Dinosaur.

  • Also very happy to see Helen Hill on the list. A dear person and an inspiring artist, who had so much left to do in life.