Monster librarian?

My mom tipped me off to Monsters University, the sequel to the 2001 film Monsters Inc., possibly including a reel librarian, based on a trailer she had recently seen. And, of course, I had to research it immediately! (That tip-off was soon followed by a similar message from my sister-in-law. I have my family trained, y’all, and on the alert for reel librarians. I’m so proud. ;) )

The library setting is featured in several short clips in the trailer, including this freeze frame…

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University screenshot

… and these screenshots at 2:04 of what looks to be… a monster librarian! AAAARGHHHH!

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University library scene screenshot

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University screenshot

I’m planning to see this film on the big screen at a local drive-in (the Newberg 99, check it out!) for a special Independence Day showing, so I should have a “first impressions” post up in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned!

We’ve come a long way, baby?

I thought this Vintage Sexism: Through the Looking Glasses post on the ModCloth blog raised some interesting questions while featuring vintage ads about spectacles and style. One vintage ad equated women wearing glasses to men having scars. Gah!

Image via Tumblr user sadburro

And most interesting of all, in this short piece about bespectacled stereotypes, no mention of librarians. Progress? ;)

A life well advertised

Until this week, I had never before seen this Raymond James commercial (apparently, it first aired in Fall 2010) about the “fastidious librarian Emily Skinner,” who lives life to the fullest, even at 187 years young. After viewing it, I turned to Sam and said, “That’s the Liberated Librarian arc in a commercial!” Raymond James is, of course, posturing itself as her savior — but one could make the argument that it’s Emily herself, right?

I quite enjoyed the ad, and overall, it’s a pretty flattering portrayal of a librarian. Emily, “The Woman Who Lived Longer Than Any Person Who Has Ever Lived,” is obviously intellectually curious (loooove the detail of her dress matching her wallpaper in the shot of hanging up that first diploma) and fun-loving. She pays attention to details but also looks at the big picture with long-term goals. A life well planned, and a life well lived. Go librarians! :)

Advertising the reel librarian

There are a fair number of films featuring leading roles for reel librarians, but how are they depicted in the movie posters for those films? Are the words librarian or library even mentioned on the posters? Intrigued, I took a look at movie posters for movies in the Class I category, films in which the protagonist or other major characters are librarians. It wasn’t until after the first draft of this post that I realized I had chosen at least one film from each decade, spanning the 1930s through the 1990s. So meta.

So let’s take a peek at advertising the reel librarian through the decades, shall we? :)

Notes: I’ve arranged the following in order of the U.S. release dates. Also, click the poster thumbnails to view larger images of the posters, almost all of which are available through

Forbidden (1932)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline:  Her greatest dramatic role!

This illustrated movie poster highlights star Barbara Stanwyck and her glamorous look seen later in the film, NOT the “old lady four eyes” side depicted in the first part of the film. This was quite early in her movie career, so it’s interesting that the studio was already heavily promoting her as a major star. Stanwyck had gained notice the year before, in the 1931 Night Nurse (saving two children from Clark Gable in a rare villainous turn!), but she was still a year away from Baby Face (1933) and five years away from her first Oscar nomination in 1937, for Stella Dallas.

No Man of Her Own (1932)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

No taglines necessary; the title says it all, right? (Sigh.)

Clark Gable gets some adoring looks, along with the prominent name-above-the-title attention on these posters. No hint that the glamorous Carole Lombard depicted in these ads plays a librarian. The real-life romance between Gable and Lombard didn’t begin until four years after this film — which, incidentally, tells you a lot about this film.

Adventure (1945)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click the poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline:  Gable’s back and Garson’s got him!

This poster seems to visually echo the 1939 instant classic Gone With the Wind (click here to view a sample). This make sense, especially considering that both films starred Clark Gable and were directed by Victor Fleming. And Gone With the Wind was a massive hit. This movie? Not so much. The poster doesn’t reveal anything about the plot, which is quite similar to 1932’s No Man of Her Own (see above), Gable’s earlier foray into sweeping reel librarians off their sensible heels. The poster instead emphasizes its leading stars, Clark Gable and Greer Garson, and their so-called chemistry by featuring a kiss (which turns out kind of creepy-looking, no?). Unfortunately, the movie does not live up to its adventurous title.

Good News (1947)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline:  M-G-M’s Terrific Technicolor Musical!

I had seen the first movie poster before — the one with no slogan or tagline — but was intrigued by the second, longer poster. Both feature leggy females, but wow, the legs on that second poster! Despite the similar hair color of the leggy blonde, I strongly doubt it’s a depiction of star June Allyson, as she built a film career on her chirpy “good girl” persona. It looks like a pin-up exaggeration of a movie theater usherette, trumpeting the news of “M-G-M’s Terrific Technicolor Musical!” Both posters feature bright colors and the promise of romance, with nary a sight of the college library where the two co-stars meet. See this post to view the song they sing while closing up the library.

Storm Center (1956)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • Bette Davis hits the screen in a cyclone of dramatic fury!
  • In all the years, no picture has said this!

Those taglines say a whole lot of nothing, don’t they? And what was the “long-awaited event” highlighted in that fourth poster? Maybe the decades-long return of silent screen star Mary Pickford, who was originally set to play reel librarian Alicia Hull? Maybe that it took 5 years of delays and title changes (originally entitled The Library) and casting switches to get to the big screen? The storyline is one to make librarians stand up and cheer — standing up to censorship in a small town — but the end result? When even TV Guide describes the film as “dismal,” then you know you got a problem.

But the film looks pretty exciting from the movie posters, right?! It’s all abstract cyclones and burning buildings and face-eating flames, designed by legendary graphic artist Saul Bass (who also put together the very cool title credit sequence for this film, as well as for 1960’s Psycho). Except for that VERY weird poster (perhaps a lobby card?) on the top right, which highlights Bette Davis giving a kid… a lollipop. THUD. Like she’s some kind of smirking dentist instead of a librarian. I’m sure Saul Bass had nothing to do with that oddity.

Desk Set (1957)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn… make the office such a wonderful place to love in!
  • Meet the Desk Set… from 9 o’clock coffee to 5 o’clock cocktails — and, oh, those fabulous Christmas parties!

One of my favorite reel librarian movies ever… and NO mention of the library! True, the library in question is a TV company’s research library, not the first kind of library one thinks of. And there IS a fabulous Christmas party in this film (see this post for a clip). I quite like the title logo and silhouette of the couple kissing over a desk, which gets across the idea that it’s a romantic comedy — a departure from the play, as I outlined in a previous post comparing the play and film versions. This poster, as well as the accompanying lobby cards featured in a previous post, definitely play up the zany comedy angle, and highlight its successful stars. Hepburn and Tracy made 9 films together over 25 years, and this was their next-to-last pairing together.

Rome Adventure (1962)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • This was her European plan for learning about love.
  • She wanted to learn about love from a mature, suave Italian with a villa by the sea – until a young, handsome American came along and changed her European plan.

The original title for this film was Lovers Must Learn (read all about it, plus view the movie’s trailer, in a prior blog post here). I wonder how late in the game they changed the title to Rome Adventure, because the whole “learning” aspect is quite prominent in those taglines. Both posters push the romance angle, as well as equate adventure with moped rides. ;) You can also guess the basic plot — and arc of this Liberated Librarian‘s role — in that second poster. But let’s face it, reel librarian Prudence Bell isn’t the main attraction. Italy is!

Only Two Can Play (1962)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline: Two’s company… three’s a comedy!

This one hails from the UK, with Peter Sellers playing a very sexually frustrated librarian looking for a promotion in all the wrong places. And no, that is not a slam against Wales, the setting of the film. I do like the poster’s primary color scheme (the film is in black & white, so is the poster trying to over-compensate?) and cutesy graphics, which kind of remind me of a children’s book. But maybe that’s not the best thing for a pseudo-sex comedy. Hmmmm……

The Music Man (1962)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • We’ve got the man, we’ve got the music, we’ve got “The Music Man”
  • The story of that man and his 76 trombones, and the wonderful, wonderful tune he played on every heart in town!

1962 was a banner year for major reel librarian characters, no?

There are several posters and taglines for this hit musical, which was based on the 1957 hit play by Meredith Willson. This movie immortalized “Marian the Librarian” but the title character is Robert Preston’s Harold Hill, the con man who sweeps the town — and the reel librarian — off their collective feet. The posters play up the comedic, feel-good attitude of the film, and the taglines all focus on the central character, not the librarian.

You’re a Big Boy Now (1966)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • The odyssey of a young youth who wants no part of sex. He wants it all!
  • The motion picture that’s happening now!

Oh, those “young youths,” how they tease us! ;) I love the randomness of these movie poster images together. There are the bright colors, kooky graphics mixed in with screenshots, cheesy taglines, cross-eyed hearts. The posters are all so different, yet each also kind of captures the goofy charm of the film in its own way. The only poster that hints at the library setting is the international one, which tells me is the Polish version. That one, with all the hearts, is my favorite. Books = Love. ♥.

Foul Play (1978)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline:  A new comedy thriller from the creators of “Silver Streak.”

Another major reel librarian character (Goldie Hawn as Gloria Mundy) with no mention of that occupation on the poster. True, the plot moves quickly from the library and into the streets of San Francisco, but Gloria’s resourcefulness begins with kicking some butt with an umbrella while locking up the library. And no, that’s not a metaphor.

The poster highlights the chemistry between co-stars Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, while the tagline focuses on the accomplishments of writer/director Colin Higgins, who had a hit two years earlier with the comedy-action flick Silver Streak. Higgins also had another cult classic on his filmography, Harold and Maude (1971), and would go on to write and direct the comedy hits Nine to Five (1980) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). Smart advertising strategy.

Off Beat (1986)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline: The real life adventures of a make-believe cop.

This movie involves a whole host of oddball reel librarians (star Judge Reinhold included), a case of mistaken identity, satiny cop costumes, a dancing cop routine, show tunes, and a bank heist in which well-timed choreography saves the day. Oh, and roller skates, as highlighted on this movie poster. The poster is the cleverest thing about the movie, and I’m actually glad there’s no hint of librarianship in it, except for the book bag he’s about to trip on.

The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.

Tagline:  She was a nobody, until someone found… The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag!”

Two very different styles of movie posters, with one equally offensive tagline. Although the posters don’t mention her occupation, Betty Lou is a children’s librarian, the “nobody” in the tagline. FAIL.

I actually saw this movie in the theaters, which gives you a clue to how old I am. It’s an odd movie, but I loved it way back when. Mostly because of cute co-star Eric Thal. I don’t recall seeing the first poster — definitely skewed more to adults — so I most likely responded positively to the second poster, which plays up the “screwball comedy” angle.

I also find it interesting that just through these two movie posters, you can see how well her character fits the Liberated Librarian type. First, she’s all about the long hair and timid, “Who, me?” expression, and in the second, it’s all “Look at me!” with the short dress, short hair, and irresponsible backseat driving.

Party Girl (1995)

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here. Click each poster thumbnail to view a larger image in a new window.


  • There’s a new librarian in town!
  • The new queen of the art house

Finally, the word librarian makes it to a movie poster! One more reason to love this film. The posters both feature indie film star Parker Posey (hence, the “queen of the art house” tagline) atop a pile of books, having a fun time as the Party Girl in her chunky high heels and bright layers. So very mid-’90s. She IS the party girl. Ergo, party girl = librarian. These posters make me smile — and not just because I enjoy counting up all the different fonts on that second one. And how befitting are these ads for a movie that features a dance sequence all about learning the Dewey Decimal system? This is truth in advertising. ;)

The shush heard ’round the world

Reel Librarians  |  Movie poster for 'The Good Companions' (1933)The Good Companions (1933), adapted from J. B. Priestley‘s novel of the same name, tells a story of three wayward souls finding their way to a variety troupe called the “Dinky Doos” (no, I do not make this stuff up, see below). Thankfully, they change the name straightaway to “The Good Companions,” hence the film’s title. This decidedly minor film, remade in 1957, takes its time setting up the characters and the plot.

The librarian (Hugh E. Wright) shows up for less than a minute, and we never see his face — only the back of his head (see below). His appearance is notable only because it appears to be the first occurrence of a reel librarian uttering, “Shush!” (as determined by Ray & Brenda Tevis in their book, The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917-1999). The Tevises also take note at how the low camera angle — revealing only the back of the librarian’s head — visually de-emphasizes the reel librarian.

The reel librarian is a white male, older, and quite thin. He is wearing a black coat, and his hair is short, grey, and appears to be thinning. We see a glimpse of spectacles as he turns slightly to the side at one point.

The library scene occurs one hour and 17 minutes into the film (the 113-minute UK version, NOT the 95-minute US version). Right before the library scene, the two female leads, Miss Elizabeth Trant (Mary Glynne) and Susie Dean (Jessie Matthews) enjoy a picnic; the older woman laments a long-lost love, and Susie schemes to bring the two former lovers back together. The gentleman in question is a doctor, and the Susie muses that “there’s a medical register at any public library.” Next, we see a shot of Susie looking up the medical register and finds the name she’s seeking and the town where the doctor lives, Dingley. She then asks in a loud voice, “How far’s Dingley?”

Immediately, we hear a “Shush!”, then the camera pans back to reveal the library and the back of the reel librarian, who then answers “20 miles” to her question. Susie, quite unconcerned at her mild reprimand, tosses off a quick thanks. She then brings the big book back to the Circulation desk and asks the librarian what kind of illness would bring a doctor in from 20 miles away. He seems puzzled — who wouldn’t be? — and replies, “Well, I don’t know. Heart attack?” Susie seems quite pleased with his response, thanks him, and leaves. He fulfills the basic Information Provider role, one punctuated by the inaugural and soon-to-be-infamous (and oft-repeated) “Shush!”

We see one wide shot of the library itself, with the reel librarian perched on the edge of the stool at the far right. Anybody else visualizing Ebenezer Scrooge?! The long, wooden Circulation desk spans the bottom part of the frame, and the obligatory card files flank both sides of the librarian — another visual barrier. The left side of the frame reveals a fairly populated reading room, most likely for newspapers and other periodicals, while the larger space to the right is empty except for the girl. Is it just me, or does the library backdrop almost look painted? There are tall stacks of books, and we spy a second floor with more bookshelves, tables, and library lamps; in the close-up, we see thick velvet ropes — yet another visual barrier — curtaining off the tall stacks.

The brief library scene begins 4:25 minutes into the film clip below.

Let’s all go to the lobby

Reel Librarians  |  Lobby cards of 'Desk Set'I was so happy when I came across this set of lobby cards — an old form of advertising — for one of the best all-time librarian films, Desk Set (1957), starring the Grande Dame of reel librarians, Katharine Hepburn. She plays Bunny Watson —  it IS a comedy — the head librarian of a TV network’s research department.

The library set is highlighted in most of the lobby cards (click on each to see a bigger image), which must be rare in movie advertising. And the library in the film IS a glorious set,  a supporting character all by itself. There are stairs on either side leading to a second level, and there are rows and rows of books and several file cabinets. The librarians often go in and out of this private library to answer questions.

In the main area, the assistant librarians’ desks are arranged in an informal U-shape, and Bunny has her own office (with a private elevator!) off to the side. In one of the cards, you can also glimpse a bit of EMERAC, the huge computer installed by efficiency expert Richard Sumner, played by Spencer Tracy. You can also tell how much fun these librarians have, depicted by the lobby card scenes of laughter and partying (they’re at an office Christmas party). And as an extra bonus, one card showcases a bit of Bunny’s apartment — another rarity to witness a librarian’s home life!

And now, just for fun:

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