‘Kidnappers Foil’ added to film registry
Dallas filmmaker Melton Barker’s “The Kidnappers Foil” was added to the National Film Registry on Wednesday, taking its place among 24 other films deemed this year to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.
Caroline Frick of the Austin-based Texas Archive of the Moving Image has played a key role in collecting versions of the film, which Barker made in various towns through Texas, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, North Carolina and Nebraska from the 1930s to the 1950s. An itinerant filmmaker, Barker would go to a town and cast local children in a short film about kidnappers who are holding a young girl for ransom. But other children would rise up and save the day. The shorts would play in advance of regular movies and local audiences would flock to the theaters to see their children on the big screen.
Eight versions of the movie are available at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, at www. texasarchive.org.
“The Kidnappers Foil” series touched the lives of thousands of children and their families across the United States, providing unique opportunities to see themselves on the big screen, Frick said. “We hope that the news of its selection to the registry will exemplify the value of these so-called ‘local’ films to the entire country and will lead to the discovery of lost versions of Barker’s work.”
“The Kidnappers Foil” was one of the lesserknown movies added to the National Film Registry. Other movies marked for preservation on Wednesday include “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Dirty Harry,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Matrix” and “A League of Their Own.”
Congress created the program in 1989, and the latest additions bring the registry to 600 films. Each title named to the registry will be preserved in the library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, built partially in a bunker in Culpeper, Va., or through collaborations with other archives or studios.