Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Underground Film News

Anthology Film Archives’ Essential Cinema Repertory Collection

By Mike Everleth ⋅ May 3, 2010

Exterior of the Anthology Film Archives building in New York City

First the history, then the list:

In 1969, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas decided to open the world’s first museum devoted to film. Of course, a typical museum hangs its collections of artwork on the wall for visitors to walk up to and study. However, a film museum needs special considerations on how — and what, of course — to present its collection to the public.

Thus, for this film museum, first a film selection committee was formed that included James Broughton, Ken Kelman, Peter Kubelka, Jonas Mekas and P. Adams Sitney, plus, for a time, Stan Brakhage. This committee met over the course of several months to decide exactly what films would be collected and how they would be shown. The final selection of films would come to be called the The Essential Cinema Repertory.

The Essential Cinema Collection that the committee came up with consisted of about 330 films. It was also originally planned that there would be three film screenings held every day at the museum so that the entire collection could be screened over the period of one month, then in the next month, the collection would be screened all over again and so on and so on. This would allow film lovers to watch their favorite films over and over again, to really study and analyze them, the way one could study a painting repeatedly on different trips to the same art museum.

The film museum, obviously, was eventually named the Anthology Film Archives — I believe Brakhage came up with the name — and it initially opened on Nov. 30, 1970 at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater at 425 Lafayette St.

Funding for the Anthology and the Essential Cinema Collection initially came from a foundation set up by Jerome Hill. The plan, also, at the beginning was for the Essential Cinema Collection to be continuously added to as more films were made and older ones were re-evaluated.

Unfortunately, though, Hill died in 1973 and all funding was cut off. Thus, the theoretically evolving Essential Cinema collection was frozen at the initial 330 films. Plus, the Anthology had to move around a lot, first to 80 Wooster St., then to 491 Broadway before settling into its current home at 1st and 1st in 1979.

While all of this historical information is freely available on the Anthology website, they’ve never published online a list of the films in the Essential Cinema collection. However, they did publish that list in the book The Essential Cinema: Essays on the films in the Collection of Anthology Film Archives, edited by P. Adams Sitney. (The other plan at the time was to publish a series of books that would focus on different Essential films, and while Anthology has published more books since then, this was the only one specifically dedicated to the collection.)

I’ve transcribed the list from the essay book and that’s it in full below. A couple things to note: Several films appear on the list multiple times. That happens when more than one filmmaker worked on a film, e.g. Meshes in the Afternoon appears both under Maya Deren‘s name and Alexander Hammid’s. Also, some filmmakers either don’t have specific films listed or they have generic entries made in addition to a specific list of films, e.g. Charlie Chaplin has some classics like The Gold Rush listed specifically, but it also says that one other feature and one short of his would also screen during the monthly rotation.

I’m not the first person to transcribe the Essential Cinema repertory list in an online format. But, I did want it on the Underground Film Journal and didn’t like the idea of just ripping off somebody else’s hard work by doing a cut-and-paste job. It did take me a few days to type this up,  but not as long as I had imagined it would. (Luckily.) If you want to cut-and-paste this for whatever reason, feel free to do so.

It’s a long list, but I hope you check it out in detail. It was a real interesting learning experience to finally find out what was considered “essential” in 1970. It’s also interesting to think and to fantasize on, had Jerome Hill lived and his foundation continued, what films would have been added after this initial, impressive batch.

James Agee:
In the Street, 1952 (with Levitt and Loeb)

Film still from Scorpio Rising in which a motorcycle rider crashes onto the ground

Kenneth Anger:
Fireworks, 1947
Puce Moment, 1949-70
Eaux D’Artifice, 1953
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, 1954-66
Scorpio Rising, 1963
Kustom Kar Kommandos, 1965
Invocation of My Demon Brother, 1969
Rabbit’s Moon, 1950-70

Bruce Baillie:
Mass, 1963-64
Quixote, 1965
Castro Street, 1966
All My Life, 1966
Valentin de las Sierras, 1968
Quick Billy, 1971

Jordan Belson:
Allures, 1961
Re-entry, 1964
Phenomena, 1965
Samadhi, 1967
Momentum, 1968
Cosmos, 1969
World, 1970
Meditation, 1971

Stan Brakhage's newly born baby

Stan Brakhage:
Desistfilm, 1954
Reflections on Black, 1955
The Wonder Ring, 1955
Flesh of Morning, 1956
Loving, 1956
Anticipation of the Night, 1958
Window Water Baby Moving, 1959
Cat’s Cradle, 1959
Sirius Remembered, 1959
The Dead, 1960
Thigh Line Lyre Triangular, 1961
Mothlight, 1963
Blue Moses, 1963
Dog Star Man, 1961-64
The Art of Vision, 1965
Pasht, 1965
Bluewhite, Blood’s Tone, Vein, 1965
Fire of Waters, 1965
The Horseman, The Woman, & The Moth, 1968
Lovemaking, 1968
Songs, 1-14, 1964-65
Songs 15-22, 1965-66
23rd Psalm Branch, 1966
Songs 24-27, 1967-68
Songs 28-30, 1968-69
Scenes From Under Childhood, I-IV, 1969-70
The Weir-Falcon Saga, 1970
Sexual Meditation No. 1: Motel, 1970
The Machine of Eden, 1970
The Animals of Eden and After, 1970
Angels’, 1971
Door, 1971
Western History, 1971
The Peaceable Kingdom, 1971
Eyes, 1971
Deus Ex, 1971
The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes, 1972
Sexual Meditation: Room with View, 1971

Robert Breer:
Form Phases 1, 1952
Form Phases 2, 1953
Recreation, 1956
Motion Pictures No. 1, 1956
Jamestown Baloos, 1957
Eyewash, 1959
Blazes, 1961
Pat’s Birthday, 1962
Breating, 1963
Fist Fight, 1964
66, 1966
69, 1969
70, 1971

Robert Bresson:
Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, 1944 (The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne)
Le Journal d’un Curé de Campagne, 1950 (Diary of A Country Priest)
Un Condamné à Mort s’est Echappé, 1956 (A Man Escaped)
Pickpocket, 1959
Au Hasard, Balthazar, 1966
Mouchette, 1966
Une Femme Douce, 1969 (A Gentle Creature)

James Broughton:
The Potted Psalm, 1946 (with Sidney Peterson)
Mother’s Day, 1948
Four in the Afternoon, 1951
Loony Tom, the Happy Lover, 1951
The Pleasure Garden, 1953
The Bed, 1968
Nuptiae, 1969
The Golden Positions, 1970
This Is It, 1971
Dreamwood, 1972

Luis Buñuel:
Un Chien Andalou, 1928 (An Andalusian Dog) (with Salvador Dali)
L’Age D’Or, 1930 (The Golden Age)
Land Without Bread, 1932
Los Olvidados, 1950 (The Forgotten)

Alberto Cavalcanti:
Rine que les Heures, 1927 (Nothing but the Hours)

Charles Chaplin:
A Woman, 1915
A Night at the Show, 1915
Easy Street, 1917
Cure, 1917
Payday, 1922
The Gold Rush, 1925
Selected Features (One Program per Cycle)
Selected Shorts (One Program per Cycle)

René Clair:
Entr’acte, 1924 (with Francis Picabia)

Jean Cocteau:
La Sang d’un Poete, 1930 (The Blood of a Poet)
La Belle et la Bete, 1946 (Beauty and the Beast)
Orphée, 1950
Le Testament D’Orphée, 1960 (The Testament of Orpheus)

Bruce Conner:
A Movie, 1958
Cosmic Ray, 1961
Report, 1965

Tony Conrad:
The Flicker, 1966

Joseph Cornell:
Rose Hobart, 1939
Cotillion (finished by Larry Jordan, 1969)
The Midnight Party (finished by Larry Jordan, 1969)
The Children’s Party (finished by Larry Jordan, 1969)
Centuries of June, 1955
Aviary, 1955
Ginr Rednow, 1955
Nymphlight, ca. 1957
A Legend for Fountains (photographed ca. 1957; completed in 1970)
Angel, ca. 1957

Douglas Crockwell:
Glens Falls Sequence, 1946
The Long Bodies, 1949

Maya Deren:
Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 (with Alexander Hammid)
A Study in Choreography for Camera, 1945
Ritual in Transfigured Time, 1946

Alexandr Dovzhenko:
Zvenigora, 1928
Arsenal, 1929
Zemlya, 1930 (Earth)
Ivan, 1932
Aerograd, 1935 (Frontier)

Carl Th. Dreyer:
Prastankan, 1921 (The Parson’s Widow)
Michael, 1924
La Passion de Jeanne D’Arc, 1928 (The Passion of Joan of Arc)
Vampyr, 1932
Vredens Dag, 1943 (Day of Wrath)
Ordet, 1955 (The Word)
Gertrud, 1965

Marcel Duchamp:
Anemic Cinema, 1926 (with Man Ray)

Viking Eggeling:
Symphonie Diagonale, 1924

Sergei Eisenstein:
Stachka, 1925 (Strike)
Bronenosets Potyomkin, 1925 (Battleship Potemkin)
Oktyabr, 1928 (October)
Ivan Grozny, I, II, 1944, 1946 (Ivan the Terrible)

Jean Epstein:
La Glace à Trois Faces, 1927 (The Three-Sided Mirror)
La Chute de la Maison Usher, 1928 (The Fall of the House of Usher)

Louis Feuillade:
Fantomas, 1913-14
Les Vampires, 1915
Tih Minh, 1919

Robert Flaherty:
Nanook of the North, 1922
Man of Aran, 1934

Bob Fleischner:
Blonde Cobra, 1962 (with Ken Jacobs)

Hollis Frampton:
Zorns Lemma, 1970
Hapax Legomena I: (nostalgia), 1971

Georges Franji:
Le Sang des Betes, 1949 (Blood of the Beasts)

Robert Frank:
Pull My Daisy, 1959 (with Alfred Leslie)

Jean Genet:
Un Chant D’Amour, 1950 (The Song of Love)

D. W. Griffith:
The Birth of a Nation, 1915
Intolerance, 1916

Alexander Hammid:
Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943 (with Maya Deren)

Marcel Hanoum:
Une Simple Histoire, 1958 (A Simple Story)
L’Hiver, 1959 (Winter)
Le Printemps, 1970 (Spring)

Jerome Hill:
Death in the Forenoon, 1955
Canaries, 1968
Film Portrait, 1971

Ian Hugo:
Bells of Atlantis, 1952

Jack Smith burning a doll with a cigarette in a film still from Little Stabs of Happiness by Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs:
Little Stabs at Happiness, 1961
Blonde Cobra, 1962 (with Bob Fleischner)
Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son, 1969

Humphrey Jennings:
Listen to Britain, 1941

Larry Jordan:
Hamfat Asar, 1965
Duo Concertantes, 1962-64
Gymnopedies, 1968
The Old House, Passing, 1966
Our Lady of the Sphere, 1968

Buster Keaton:
Neighbors, 1920
The General, 1926
Selected Films (One Program per Cycle)

Dimitri Kirsanoff:
Menilmontant, 1924-25

Peter Kubelka:
Mosaik im Vertauen, 1955 (Mosaic in Confidence)
Adebar, 1957
Schwechater, 1958
Arnulf Rainer, 1960
Unsere Afrikareise, 1966 (Our Trip to Africa)

Mike & George Kuchar:
Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof, 1961
Tootsies in Autumn, 1962

Film still of George Landow running from Remedial Reading Comprehension

George Landow:
Fleming Faloon, 1964
Film in which there Appear, Sprocket Holes, Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, etc., 1966
Dipoteratology or Bardo Follies, 1967
The Film that Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter, 1968
Institutional Quality, 1969
Remedial Reading Comprehension, 1971

Laurel and Hardy:
Selected Films (One Program per Cycle)

Fernand Léger:
Ballet Mécanique, 1924 (with Dudley Murphy)

Alfred Leslie:
Pull My Daisy, 1959 (with Robert Frank)

Helen Levitt:
In the Street, 1952 (with Agee & Loeb)

Janice Loeb:
In the Street, 1952 (with Agee & Levitt)

Louis & Auguste Lumière:
Selected Films (One Program per Cycle)

Len Lye:
Tusalava, 1928
Trade Tatoo, 1937
Rhythm, 1953
Free Radicals, 1958

Willard Maas:
Geography of the Body, 1943

Christopher MacLaine:
The End, 1953

Gregory Markopoulos:
Psyche, 1948
Swain, 1950
Twice a Man, 1963
Himself as Herself, 1966
Ming Green, 1966
Eros, O Basileus, 1966
The Illiac Passion, 1967
Gammelion, 1968

Jonas Mekas:
Diaries, Notes and Sketches, 1964-69
Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, 1971

Georges Méliès:
Selected Films (Four Programs)
Selected Films (Five Programs)
Selected Films (Four Programs)

Marie Menken:
Glimpse of the Garden, 1957
Arabesque for Kenneth Anger, 1961
Notebook, 1962-63
Go! Go! Go!, 1963
Andy Warhol, 1965
Lights, 1965

F. W. Murnau:
Sunrise, 1927

Dudley Murphy:
Ballet Méchanique, 1924 (with Fernand Léger)

Robert Nelson:
The Great Blondino, 1967
Bleu Shut, 1970

Yasujiro Ozu:
Umarete Wa Mita Keredo, 1932 (I Was Born, … But)
Chichi Ariki, 1942 (There Was a Father)

Sidney Peterson:
The Potted Psalm, 1946 (with James Broughton)
The Petrified Dog, 1948
Mr. Frenhofer and the Minotaur, 1949
The Lead Shoes, 1949

Francis Picabia:
Entr’acte, 1924 (with René Clair)

Vsevolod Pudovkin:
Mat, 1926 (Mother)

Man Ray:
Le Retour à la Raison, 1923 (Return to Reason)
Emak Bakia, 1927
Etoile de Mer, 1928
Anemic Cinema, 1926 (with Marcel Duchamp)

Jean Renoir:
La Règle du Jeu, 1939 (Rules of the Game)

Ron Rice:
Chumlum, 1964

Hans Richter:
Rhythmus 21, 1921
Alles Dreht Sich, Alles Bewegt Sich, 1929 (Everything Revolves, Everything Turns)

Leni Riefenstahl:
Triumph des Willens, 1934-35 (Triumph of the Will)
Olympia, 1938

Roberto Rossellini:
Francesco, Giullare di Dio, 1949 (The Flowers of St. Francis)
La Prise de Pouvoir par Louis XIV, 1966 (The Rise to Power of Louis XIV)

Walter Ruttmann:
Berlin, die Symphonie der Grosstadt, 1927

Paul Sharits:
N:O:T:H:I:N:G, 1968
T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, 1969

Harry Smith:
No. 1-5, 7, 10, 194?-1957 (Early Abstractions)
No. 11, 1957 (Mirror Animations)
No. 12, 1958-61 (Heaven and Earth Magic, The Magic Feature)
No. 3, No. 16, 1962, 1967 (Oz, Kaleidoscope, The Tin Woodman’s Dream)
No. 14, 1964 (Late Superimpositions)

Film still from Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures in which a woman is attacked by men

Jack Smith:
Scotch Tape, 1962
Flaming Creatures, 1963
No President, 1969

Michael Snow:
Wavelength, 1967
<—->, 1969
La Region Centrale, 1970-71 (The Central Region)

Frank Stauffacher:
Sausalito, 1948

Erich von Stroheim:
Greed, 1924

Karl Valentin:
Der Firmling, 1934 (Confirmation Day)

Dziga Vertov:
Newsreel Material (Kinonedelia, 1918-19; Kinopravda, 1922, etc.)
Kinoglaz, 1925
Odinnadtsati, 1928 (The Eleventh Year)
Chelovek s Kinoapparatom, 1929 (Man With a Movie Camera)
Entuziasm, 1931 (Enthusiasm)
Tri Pesni O Leninye, 1934 (Three Songs About Lenin)

Jean Vigo:
A Propos de Nice, 1929-30
Taris, 1931
Zéro de Conduite, 1933 (Zero for Conduct)
L’Atalante, 1934

Andy Warhol:
Eat, 1963
The Chelsea Girls, 1966
(Two Other Programs per Cycle Including: Kiss, 1963; Blow Job, 1963; Harlot, 1964; My Hustler, 1965; Sausalito, 1967)

John Sibley Watson & Melville Webber:
Fall of the House of Usher, 1928

Orson Welles:
Citizen Kane, 1941

James Whitney:
Lapis, 1963-66

John & James Whitney:
Film Exercises 1-5, 1943-45