The protagonist or other major characters are librarians, and the librarian’s occupation serves as catalyst or is otherwise integral to the plot.*Spoiler Alert* The following annotations may contain important plot details.
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Details: Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Greer Garson, Clark Gable. MGM, 1945. Based on the novel by Clyde Brion Davis.
Synopsis: A sea-going adventurer (Gable) falls for a librarian (Garson), but their relationship is no smooth sailing. Gable first meets Garson in the San Francisco Public Library.
Role Call: Greer Garson as Emily Sears—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. Mark Illsley. Perf. Nick Stahl, Lukas Haas, Johnny Galecki, Rachael Leigh Cook. International West, 2003.
Synopsis: Three college roommates (Stahl, Hass & Galecki) anger local mobsters after setting up a bookmaking business in their dorm room. Jude (Galecki) works as a student library employee and uses the library as the drop-off spot in their bookmaking scheme.
Role Call: Johnny Galecki as Jude—Male Librarian as a Failure; Two uncredited females—Information Providers (female)
Details: Dir. Terry Gilliam. Perf. Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Michael Palin, Ian Holm. Universal, 1985.
Synopsis: In a futuristic society, Sam Lowry (Pryce) works in the Information Storage department who fantasizes of rescuing a damsel in distress.
Role Call: Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry—Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Walter Lang. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill. 20th Century Fox, 1957. Based on the play by William Marchant.
Synopsis: An efficiency expert (Tracy) clashes with the librarians in a TV network’s research department, headed by Hepburn.
Roll Call: Katharine Hepburn as Bunny Watson; Joan Blondell as Peg Costello; Dina Merrill as Sylvia Blair; Sue Randall as Ruthie Saylor—all Atypical Portrayals
Details: Dir. Courtney Solomon. Perf. Justin Whalin, Jeremy Irons, Marlon Wayans, Thora Birch. New Line Cinema, 2000. Based on the game by E. Gary Gygax.
Synopsis: In this fantasy film, a young queen (Birch) is threatened by the villainous Profion (Irons), who plots to turn the dragons into his personal weapons. In an early scene, an old professor of the Magic School instructs a young apprentice mage to get a book down from the library shelves. A young mage, Marina Pretensa (who works in the library of the Magic School), goes on the run with two thieves after the old mage is murdered.
Role Call: Zoe McLellan as Marina Pretensa—Liberated Librarian (female); Tomas Havrlik as Vilder, Mage—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Ian Harrowell & Douglas McCarthy. Voices of Bill Farmer, Jason Marsden, Bebe Neuwirth. Walt Disney, 2000.
Synopsis: Goofy’s son, Max, goes to college, only to find that Goofy loses his job and joins his son on campus. Max tries to ditch his dad in the library by introducing him to the head librarian, Sylvia.
Role Call: Bebe Neuwirth as voice of Sylvia Marpole, Head College Librarian—Liberated Librarian (female); Uncredited female—Comic Relief (female)
Details: Dir. Edwin L. Marin. Perf. Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Morgan, Anthony Allan, Ian Wolfe. MGM, 1939.
Synopsis: A comedic mystery involving a stolen manuscript. Joel Sloane (Montgomery), a rare books dealer, takes a commission to buy a Shakespeare manuscript from a personal collection and private library. Joel meets up with his protégé, Phil Seargent (Allan), who is working as private librarian and secretary, and the plot quickly spirals into murder. As Joel says early on, “something funny is going on at that library.”
Role Call: Anthony Allan as Phil Sergeant—Liberated Librarian (male); Ian Wolfe as Mr. Wilkes—Anti-Social Male Librarian/Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy. Columbia, 1932.
Synopsis: Lulu (Stanwyck), a lonely and idealistic young librarian, quits her library job and sets sail for Havana, where she becomes romantically involved with an older man (Menjou). Romantic melodrama ensues: the plot includes an illegitimate child, a lifelong adulterous affair, murder, and a deathbed pardon!
Role Call: Barbara Stanwyck as Lulu Smith—Liberated Librarian (female); Thomas Jefferson as Mr. Wilkinson—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Colin Higgins. Perf. Goldie Hawn, Chevy Chase, Burgess Meredith, Dudley Moore. Paramount, 1978.
Synopsis: A librarian (Hawn) and a cop (Chase) solve a crime together—and fall in love! Several scenes in a San Francisco Public Library branch, including one in which an albino chases her in the library.
Role Call: Goldie Hawn as Gloria Mundy—Liberated Librarian (female); Marilyn Sokol as Stella—Information Provider (female); Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Monk—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Charles Walters. Perf. June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Patricia Marshall. MGM, 1947. Based on the play by Lew Brown, Lawrence Schwab, Frank Mandel, B. G. DeSylva & Ray Henderson.
Synopsis: In this musical, college library assistant and student Connie (Allyson) falls for the football hero Tommy (Lawford). He notices her when he goes to the library to look up a French word, and she helps him succeed in college.
Role Call: June Allyson as Connie Lane—Spirited Young Girl; Uncredited female—Spinster Librarian
Details: Dir. Larry Peerce. Perf. Richard Benjamin, Ali MacGraw, Jack Klugman. Paramount, 1969. Based on the novel by Philip Roth.
Synopsis: A poor Bronx librarian (Benjamin) has a summer romance with a privileged “Jewish-American princess” (MacGraw), and their affair highlights how different their worlds are.
Role Call: Richard Benjamin as Neil Klugman—Liberated Librarian (male); Delos V. Smith, Jr. as Mr. Scapelle—Anti-Social Male Librarian; Bill Derringer as John McKee—Anti-Social Male Librarian; Uncredited female as Gloria—Spinster Librarian; Uncredited female as Natasha—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Allan Moyle. Perf. Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal, William Forsythe, Alfre Woodard. Touchstone, 1992.
Synopsis: In order to get attention, a small-town public librarian (Miller) finds a gun and confesses to a murder she did not commit.
Role Call: Penelope Ann Miller as Mrs. Elizabeth Louise “Betty Lou” Perkins—Liberated Librarian (female); Marian Seldes as Head Librarian, Margaret Armstrong—Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief (female)
Details: Dir. Terence Fisher. Perf. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Melissa Stribling, John Van Eyssen. Universal, 1958. Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
Synopsis: Jonathan Harker (Van Eyssen) poses as a librarian—to catalogue Count Dracula’s rare book collection—for an opportunity to kill Dracula. Van Helsing (Cushing) finally kills off Dracula in the castle’s library.
Role Call: John Van Eyssen as Jonathan Harker—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace. Perf. John Ritter, Harry Anderson, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, Tim Curry. Warner Bros., 1990. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
Synopsis: A group of friends in the 1960s defeat a demonic creature, Pennywise (Curry), who dresses as a clown. Thirty years later, they have to face “It” once more. Mike Hanlon (Reid), the town librarian (who’s called “the answer man”), contacts the friends to return to the town. A few scenes are in the library.
Role Call: Tim Reid as Michael Hanlon—Liberated Librarian (male); Megan Leitch as Sally, Library Aide—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers. RKO, 1946. Based on the story by Philip Van Doren Stern.
Synopsis: George Bailey (Stewart) falls on hard times and is granted the wish to experience life as if he’d never been born. In this alternate reality/nightmare, his lovely wife, Mary (Reed), becomes an old maid librarian. The short scene in which George sees Mary as a librarian serves as the catalyst for wanting to return to his life.
Role Call: Donna Reed as Mary—Spinster Librarian
Details: Dir. John Patrick Shanley. Perf. Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack. Warner Bros., 1990.
Synopsis: Joe Banks (Hanks) is stuck in a thankless job as an advertising librarian for a medical supply company. After learning he has only weeks to live, he embarks on an adventure to sacrifice himself in an island volcano.
Role Call: Tom Hanks as Joe Banks—Liberated Librarian (male)
Details: Dir. Peter Winther. Perf. Noah Wyle, Sonya Walger, Bob Newhart, Kyle MacLachlan, Kelly Hu. TNT, 2004.
Synopsis: The Librarian for the Metropolitan Public Library’s archives (Wyle) sets off in an adventure to return a stolen artifact.
Role Call: Noah Wyle as Flynn Carson; Kyle MacLachlan as Edward Wilde; Bob Newhart as Judson—all Liberated Librarians (male)
Details: Dir. Jonathan Frakes. Perf. Noah Wyle, Gabrielle Anwar, Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin. TNT, 2006.
Synopsis: The Librarian (Wyle) is back, this time searching for King Solomon’s mines. He also finds time for romance with an archaeologist (Anwar).
Role Call: Noah Wyle as Flynn Carson; Bob Newhart as Judson—both Liberated Librarians (male)
Details: Dir. Stephen Sommers. Perf. Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo. Universal, 1999.
Synopsis: In this adventure, Egyptian priest Imhotep is accidentally brought back to life. Egyptology librarian Evelyn (Weisz), her brother (Hannah), and an American soldier (Fraser) join forces to stop Imhotep.
Role Call: Rachel Weisz as Evelyn Carnahan—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. Stephen Sommers. Perf. Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo. Universal, 2001.
Synopsis: In this sequel, Evelyn (Weisz) and Rick (Fraser), now married with a son, once again save the world from the mummy. Weisz has more fight scenes in this film—and finds out she is the reincarnation of Princess Nefertiri.
Role Call: Rachel Weisz as Evelyn Carnahan—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. Morton DaCosta. Perf. Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Ron Howard. Warner Bros., 1962. Based on the play by Meredith Willson (story co-written by Franklin Lacey).
Synopsis: Con man Harold Hill (Preston) tries to scam a community into buying band uniforms—and ends up falling for the librarian. Shirley Jones’s portrayal of Marian has been immortalized in popular culture, in part due to the song “Marian the Librarian.”
Role Call: Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. James B. Clark. Perf. Ted Eccles, Theodore Bikel, Tudi Wiggins. Paramount, 1969.
Synospis: A boy, Sam (Eccles), leaves home to spend a year in nature, like Thoreau. He goes to the public library in one scene, and librarian Miss Turner (Wiggins) helps him find information about peregrine falcons.
Role Call: Tudi Wiggins as Miss Turner—Atypical Portrayal
Details: Dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud. Perf. Sean Connery, Christian Slater, F. Murray Abraham, Ron Perlman. 20th Century Fox, 1986. Based on the novel by Umberto Eco.
Synopsis: In this medieval mystery set in a Benedictine Abbey, William of Baskerville (Connery) investigates a series of deaths. Several scenes involve a restricted book, the abbey’s “forbidden library,” and its strange librarians who hold the key to the mystery.
Role Call: Volker Prechtel as Malachia—Anti-Social Male Librarian; Michael Habeck as Berengar—Naughty Librarian (male)
Details: Dir. Wesley Ruggles. Perf. Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Dorothy Mackaill, Grant Mitchell. Paramount, 1932.
Synopsis: A con artist and gambler (Gable) goes to small town Glendale to escape prosecution and falls in love with the young librarian (Lombard). A few scenes are set in the library, including one in which Gable looks up Lombard’s skirt while she shelves books!
Role Call: Carole Lombard as Connie Randall—Liberated Librarian (female); Lillian Harmer as Mattie—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Michael Dinner. Perf. Judge Reinhold, Meg Tilly, Joe Mantegna, John Turturro, Amy Wright. Touchstone, 1986.
Synopsis: A socially inept young man (Reinhold) works as a clerk at the New York Public Library and gets roped into performing in a dancing cop show—and eventually quits his job and saves the day during a bank heist.
Role Call: Judge Reinhold as Joe Gower—Liberated Librarian (male); John Turturro as Neil Pepper—Anti-Social Male Librarian; Amy Wright as Mary Ellen Gruenwald—Naughty Librarian (female); Jack Fletcher as Alvin—Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Sidney Gilliat. Perf. Peter Sellers, Mai Zetterling, Virginia Maskell, Richard Attenborough. Kingsley International, 1962. Based on the novel by Kingsley Amis.
Synopsis: In hopes of a promotion to Sub-Librarian, sexually frustrated John Lewis (Sellers) attempts an affair with Liz (Zetterling), the wife of a Library Committee member.
Role Call: Peter Sellers as John Lewis—Naughty Librarian (male); Kenneth Griffith as Ieuan Jenkins—Information Provider (male); David Davies as Mr. Beynon—Male Librarian as a Failure; Uncredited as Kennedy—Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Joe Johnston, Maurice Hunt & Pixote Hunt. Perf. Macaulay Culkin, Christopher Lloyd, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg. 20th Century Fox, 1994.
Synopsis: Scaredy-cat kid Richie (Culkin) enters a library to escape a storm—and literally ends up in another world. This half-animated, half-live action film features Christopher Lloyd as both the librarian, Mr. Dewey, and the Pagemaster (“the keeper of the books, the guardian of the written word”).
Role Call: Christopher Lloyd as Mr. Dewey/Pagemaster—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Daisy von Scherler Mayer. Perf. Parker Posey, Sasha von Scherler, Guillermo Diaz, Liev Schreiber. First Look, 1995.
Synopsis: New York party girl Mary (Posey) repays a loan to her godmother by working as a library clerk. She discovers her career choice (“I want to be a librarian!”) after learning the Dewey Decimal system one night at the library. There are several scenes set in the library, including one in which Mary gets library school advice from the library staff.
Role Call: Parker Posey as Mary—Atypical Portrayal; Sasha von Scherler as Judy Lindendorf—Atypical Portrayal; C. Francis Blackchild as Wanda—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female); L. B. Williams as Howard—Information Provider (male); Beckey Mode as Ann—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Steven Hilliard Stern. Perf. Jennifer O’Neill, Stephanie Zimbalist, Robin Thomas. Paramount, 1990.
Synopsis: A meek librarian by day, a killer by night! Jennifer O’Neill plays a librarian who finds men through newspaper personal ads and kills them on the first date.
Role Call: Jennifer O’Neill as Heather Moore—Naughty Librarian (female); Terence Slater as Library Receptionist—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Delmer Daves. Perf. Suzanne Pleshette, Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, Rossano Brazzi. Warner Bros., 1962. Based on the novel by Irving Fineman.
Synopsis: Librarian Prudence Bell (Pleshette) quits her job at Briarcroft College for Women after the board reprimands her for recommending a “too adult” book to a student. She goes to Italy in search of adventure and love.
Role Call: Suzanne Pleshette as Prudence Bell—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. Percy Adlon. Perf. Rosel Zech, k. d. lang, Oscar Kawagley. Roxie Releasing, 1991.
Synopsis: In a small town in Alaska, Kotzebue (lang) goes to the local library to find out more about her past and befriends Roswitha, the librarian (Zech). Kotzebue and Roswitha end up helping each other find out each other’s past.
Role Call: Rosel Zech as Roswitha—Atypical Portrayal; Jane Lind as Noayak—Liberated Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Stephen Poliakoff. Perf. Lindsay Duncan, Timothy Spall, Liam Cunningham, Emilia Fox. BBC, 1999.
Synopsis: An American developer (Cunningham) buys a London mansion, home of the Fallon Photo Library and Collection, with over 10 million historical photographs. He wants to convert the library into a business school, but the librarians will do anything to save the library. The film boasts a deeply engrossing, and slightly mysterious, storyline—a rare film that features a special library, one definitely worth fighting for.
Role Call: Lindsay Duncan as Marilyn Truman—Liberated Librarian (female); Timothy Spall as Oswald Bates—Male Librarian as a Failure/Anti-Social Male Librarian; Emilia Fox as Spig—Spirited Young Girl; Billie Whitelaw as Veronica—Spinster Librarian; Blake Ritson as Nick—Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Jack Clayton. Perf. Jason Robards, Jonathan Pryce, Diane Ladd, Vidal Peterson, Pam Grier. Walt Disney, 1983. Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury.
Synopsis: Mr. Dark (Pryce) and his circus come to a small town and begin granting sinister wishes to the townsfolk. A boy (Peterson) and his father (Robards), the town librarian, figure out what’s going on and challenge Mr. Dark.
Role Call: Jason Robards as Charles Halloway—Liberated Librarian (male)
Details: Dir. Daniel Taradash. Perf. Bette Davis, Kim Hunter, Kevin Coughlin, Brian Keith. Columbia, 1956.
Synopsis: A melodramatic film with the unique message of library censorship at its center. Alicia Hull (Davis), the director of the public library, is well-liked and respected in the town, by children and adults alike. Alicia is asked to remove a book about communism, but she ultimately refuses (“I couldn’t take out a book whose ideas we don’t like”) and is fired—setting off an explosive chain of events.
Role Call: Bette Davis as Alicia Hull—Atypical Portrayal; Kim Hunter as Martha Lockridge—Liberated Librarian (female); Alice Smith as Susie—Spirited Young Girl
Tale of a Vampire (1992)
Details: Dir. Shimako Sato. Perf. Julian Sands, Suzanna Hamilton, Kenneth Cranham. Vidmark Entertainment, 1992. Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Synopsis: Anne (Suzanna Hamilton), a woman still recovering from her fiancé’s mysterious death, lands a job at a library specializing in the occult. One of the library’s regulars is Alex (Julian Sands), a vampire who believes Anne to be the reincarnation of his lost love. There’s also another mysterious man (there is no other kind in this movie) in a big hat, named Edgar (Kenneth Cranham), making up the third in a very bizarre love triangle. There are many scenes set in the library.
Role Call: Suzanna Hamilton as Anne/Virginia—Spirited Young Girl; Marian Diamond as Denise—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Reginald Le Borg. Perf. Lon Chaney, Jr., Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers. Universal, 1944. Based on the novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, Jr.
Synopsis: While on an expedition in the South Seas, college professor Norman Reed (Chaney, Jr.) marries a native woman (Gwynne) who continues her superstitious beliefs when they return to the U.S. His unexpected marriage angers his ex-girlfriend, college librarian Ilona (Ankers), who embarks on revenge.
Note: In the film’s 1962 remake, Burn, Witch Burn! (aka The Night of the Eagle), the librarian character is changed to a female professor.
Role Call: Evelyn Ankers as Ilona Carr—Naughty Librarian (female); Lois Collier as Margaret Mercer—Spirited Young Girl/Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Peter Kastner, Elizabeth Hartman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Julie Harris, Karen Black. Seven Arts, 1966. Based on the novel by David Benedictus.
Synopsis: A coming-of-age story about a young man (Kastner) who works as a page at the New York Public Library and lusts after a go-go dancer (Hartman). His father (Torn), the Curator of Incunabula at the library, is so involved with his beloved Gutenberg Bible that he ignores his family and harasses his pretty young assistants.
Role Call: Peter Kastner as Bernard Chanticleer—Liberated Librarian (male); Rip Torn as I. H. Chanticleer—Naughty Librarian (male); Tony Bill as Raef del Grado—Information Provider (male); Karen Black as Amy Partlett—Liberated Librarian (female); Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)