National Film Registry adds “Pink Panther”, “Tarantella”

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 many Disney titles, including Steamboat Willie and Three Little Pigs, have made the grade.

This year there were only two films selected with a connection to animation. The first was Blake Edward’s 1964 feature film, The Pink Panther – the film which introduced Friz Freleng/Hawley Pratt’s iconic cartoon character (see the original trailer above). When it was first released, the animated titles garnered better reviews than the movie itself! It led to a long running series of theatrical shorts and numerous TV series for producers DePatie-Freleng.

The other film honored was Mary Ellen Bute’s experimental short Tarantella (1940). Bute was a pioneering avant-garde animator of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, who frequently combined classical music with abstract images. She collaborated with electronic musician Leon Theremin and was one of the first to create films, before computers, using electronically generated images. The short bio-film below offers many clips from her films, and quotes from John Canemaker and Cecile Starr:

The complete list of 2010 National Film Registry honorees is posted HERE.


  • Chris Sobieniak

    Noticed the footage from the program covering Mary Ellen Bute was called “Dope Sheet”. It aired on Channel 4 a decade ago and covered a good variety of animation topics and people. I’ve seen some episodes from tapes a person sent me years ago.

  • uncle wayne

    i remember 9disctinctly) being broought to the (PP) film. It bored the hell out of me (at 9)….but went crazy for the toon….and even crazier for the tune!!

  • Manny

    Wasn’t it De-Patie/Freleng that did the Pink Panther?

  • rnigma

    Bute’s work is like a cross between Len Lye and Oskar Fischinger… very cool!

  • David Breneman

    As great as the Pink Panther theme is, it’s Mancini’s “It Had Better Be Tonight” that’s the real masterpiece of that score. Just hearing that song always takes me back to the romance of the “jet set” era of the 1960s. You just want that music to be playing when you step off a jetliner anywhere in Europe.

  • Rob T.

    I love that the Library of Congress almost always includes at least one animated film per year in their Registry picks, but there are still some gaps in their coverage. They still haven’t singled out any Felix the Cat cartoons, nor any of John and Faith Hubley’s independent films. Mickey Mouse is in two Registry titles, but Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto are all missing. No Tom & Jerry films yet, nor any Woody Woodpecker, nor the Fleischer version of Superman. So far the only animated features honored have come from Disney or Pixar; at least one Ralph Bakshi title in there would be nice, as would “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

  • Clayton

    Mary Ellen Bute’s life is the definition of a fine artist who happened to work in film. Great to see her stuff getting belated recognition, albeit posthumously.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    To be fair,The Pink Panther has its moments besides the titles sequence. I really thought Peter Sellers was hilarious in his debut (or was A Shot in The Dark made before the PP?) as Clouseau. Claudia Cardinale was at her most gorgeous as the Princess. The scene where she has that conversation with David Niven with her head seated on that tiger skin rug’s head is truly memorable.

    • s.w.a.c.

      Shot in the Dark was the second film, adapted from a non-Clouseau stage play. Edwards was sharp enough to see that it was Sellers that was the real star of The Pink Panther, even though Niven was top-billed.

  • http://! Gerard de Souza

    Are those Mel Blanc’s chuckles which the Panther chuckles?