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"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is the quintessential midnight movie, offering a participatory moviegoing experience to millions of college students and other fans of this cult classic of American cinema.

Cover of the soundtrack album from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," 1975 George Kennedy and Paul Newman in a scene from "Cool Hand Luke," 1967

This year it joins 24 other films on the National Film Registry -- a status that will ensure its long-term preservation as a film whose significance will be recognized for generations to come.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in December 2005 announced his annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry. This group of titles brings the total number of films placed on the Registry to 425.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant motion pictures to the Registry. The list is designed to reflect the full breadth and diversity of America's film heritage, thus increasing public awareness of the richness of American cinema and the need for its preservation.

In making the announcement, the Librarian said, "By preserving American films, we safeguard a significant element of American creativity and our cultural history for the enjoyment and education of future generations. The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best' American films ever made or the most famous, but they are films that continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic significance -- and in many cases represent countless other films also deserving of recognition."

The 425 films in the National Film Registry represent a stunning range of American filmmaking -- Hollywood features, documentaries, avant-garde and amateur productions, films of regional interest, ethnic, animated and short film subjects -- all deserving recognition, preservation and access by future generations.

This key component of American cultural history, however, remains a legacy with much already lost or in peril. "In spite of the heroic efforts of archives, the motion picture industry and others, America's film heritage, by any measure, is an endangered species," Billington explained. "Fifty percent of the films produced before 1950 and 80 to 90 percent made before 1920 have disappeared forever. Sadly, our enthusiasm for watching films has proved far greater than our commitment to preserving them. And, ominously, more films are lost each year -- through the ravages of nitrate deterioration, color-fading and 'vinegar syndrome,' which threatens the acetate-based [safety] film stock on which the vast majority of motion pictures, past and present, have been reproduced."

A. Cover of the soundtrack album from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," 1975. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction.

B. George Kennedy and Paul Newman in a scene from "Cool Hand Luke," 1967. Reproduction information: Not available for reproduction