The Library of Congress has announced its 2004 additions to the National Film Registry, and there are two cartoons on it: Fleischer’s 1936 POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR and the 1951 instructional film DUCK AND COVER, in which an animated turtle advised kids on what to do in case of nuclear holocaust. (The press release has Popeye meeting “Sinbad,” but I’m reasonably sure that the correct spelling is Sindbad, as shown on the poster to the left.)
These cartoons join a respectable list of other animated works already in the registry, including PINOCCHIO, GERALD MCBOING BOING, ONE FROGGY EVENING, WHAT’S OPERA DOC?, PORKY IN WACKYLAND, GERTIE THE DINOSAUR, FANTASIA, and both the Disney and Fleischer versions of SNOW WHITE.
If I were choosing films for the registry all by myself, there are a number (and not a small one) of other cartoons I’d honor. And although the idea behind the registry is to preserve important films, most of the those cartoons are still viable commercial products, and therefore not at risk. (Maybe there should be a National Animation Registry, run by savvy cartoon scholars and fans–I’m more worried about obscure stuff like Ted Eshbaugh films crumbling away and disappearing forever.) Still, it’s nice to see the Library of Congress paying attention to animation, and I’m particularly glad to see a Fleischer Popeye film join the list.
Fun side note: You can download DUCK AND COVER in a variety of formats at the Internet Archive. Whether you’ll want to preserve it, I can’t say–but it’s certainly worth watching once.
Serious side note: ASIFA-Hollywood and UCLA have an animation preservation project that is devoted to saving cartoons that actually are in danger. It’s a very worthy venture–in fact, I think I’ll send them a few bucks before the end of 2004.