Naughty Librarians (boys’ night out)

Men of the Stacks male librarian calendar

We have come to my final post in this series of reel librarian character types (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for previous posts). The male counterpart to the female Naughty Librarians, this type was originally entitled “The Sex-obsessed Male Librarian” in my undergraduate thesis.

Striking differences do separate the two varieties of Naughty Librarians. There are not as many examples of the males as there are females; obviously, the female Naughty Librarian fantasy reigns supreme (see here for a related post). The male charaters are more focused on actual sex, not a diluted vision of love, as sometimes seen in the female equivalent. Also, the female Naughty Librarians turn to violence more often due to repressed feelings, while their male counterparts almost never do.

The male Naughty Librarian, although a sexually charged character, is one who attempts to act out his desires because he is professionally and/or personally unsuccessful in some way. This marks the biggest deviation between the two sets of Naughty Librarians. The females are usually young to middle-aged, and quite attractive (after they let their hair down after work, of course), whereas the males are usually middle-aged to older, and usually viewed as a bit creepy or otherwise sexually unappealing to others.

The father in You’re a Big Boy Now (1966), I. H. Chanticleer (Rip Torn), illustrates the male Naughty Librarian type. While his son, Bernard, experiments with fantasies — in the film, they are expressed in Day-Glo ’60s colors — the father acts out by sexually harassing his pretty young secretaries. One scene, see above, involves Bernard’s landlady, Mrs. Thing (Julie Harris), who assumes that the father must want to rape her after she accidentally locks them both into the archives vault. She freaks out when she realizes the archives are full of “dirty” pictures of Ovid and ancient literature “pornography” (her perspective, not mine). In this instance, Chanticleer, the Curator of Incunabula at the library, is NOT sexually interested in Mrs. Thing; he is more preoccupied with saving the rare books. And let’s be blunt, she’s not the same type as the secretaries he’s used to going after.

Michael Habeck as Berengar in The Name of the Rose

In The Name of the Rose (1986), Michael Habeck plays the assistant librarian Berengar, a homosexual monk prone to staring and giggling. His white skin and googley eyes do stand out, and not in a good way. And then we find out that Berengar has caused a brilliant young monk to commit suicide after being forced to partake of the “sins of the flesh.” Knowing his sin, Berengar whips himself and becomes the third victim in the film because he has read the “forbidden” book, Aristotle’s second book of the Poetics.

Perhaps the most realistically lecherous of all the male Naughty Librarians, Peter Sellers plays John Lewis in Only Two Can Play (1962), a Welshman vying for a promotion of Sub-Librarian by embarking on an affair with the wife of a library board member (see below).

Still from Only Two Can Play

The beginning of the film sets up John’s character, saturating his vision with glimpses of women’s legs, breasts, and hips. He groans in frustration after he discovers a book he has dropped is called Is Sex Necessary? His obsession with the female sex is compounded by the fact tht he has a young, desirable wife — but also faces the realities of two messy kids at home. John never actually consummates the affair, and in the end, he agrees with his wife to work on his sex addictive behavior. I must note that the film does not reveal to us at the end if he has mastered his womanizing ways.

So there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of reel librarian character types. For all the types I’ve identified thus far, please see the Role Call section of this site.

Naughty Librarians (ladies, take it away)

Google image search for “naughty librarian”

A rose by any other name… the Naughty Librarian. We’re down to the final category of exploring reel librarian character types (see previous posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). And I know I’m going to get a lot of hits out of this post, as “naughty librarian” — and similar phrases like “sexy librarian” or “tomcats librarian” —  are the MOST POPULAR search terms that lead to my blog. It’s a classy joint I’m running here, this Reel Librarians blog.

This category originally began as “The Sex-Obsessed Librarian” in my undergraduate thesis. The male and female portrayals of this character type are quite different, as you’ll see. The guys will have their turn next week. It’s time now for the ladies.

The female Naughty Librarian serves as a sexual fantasy, which comes as no surprise, I’m sure. She’s usually either an attractive librarian obviously “on the prowl” or she’s like a young Spinster Librarian who “lets her hair down” outside the library (click here for a previous related post about that). The Naughty Librarian portrayal is all about contrast, inner desires juxtaposed with a more conservative, restrained exterior or library setting.

But be warned — if their romantic or sexual desires go unfulfilled, these Naughty Librarians often to turn to violent, or otherwise criminal or manipulative, means to get what they want. But that’s probably all part of the fantasy, right? ;)

Let’s take a peek. *SPOILER ALERTS*

One of the most textbook examples of this category is Jennifer O’Neill as Heather Moore in the 1990 TV movie Personals. Heather combines sex with murder, as she plays a meek and button-up librarian by day and a knife-wielding serial killer at night (see left). After arranging dates with married men through newspaper personal ads, Heather then kills the men because of their infidelity — exercising her own brand of vigilante justice. This television movie illustrates the Naughty Librarian at her most vicious.

In Tomcats (2001), “bad boy” Michael Delany (Jerry O’Connell) sets out to seduce Jill, a seemingly timid librarian (Heather Stephens). He boasts, “This is almost too easy” when he first spots her, pushing a library cart full of books (see clip below). They bond over The Scarlet Letter – wink wink — and he walks her home, which has a white picket fence, of course. Jill looks like the perfect prototype of a young Spinster Librarian, with her prim bun, pretty pink cardigan, and tortoiseshell glasses. But once inside her house, Jill’s inner dominatrix comes out to play — literally — as does her librarian grandma! Gotta admit, they’re super organized with those toys, whips and handcuffs, just like real librarians would be. ;)

And for the second half of their date, see below. Warning:  Due to, ahem, racy content, you may need to authenticate your birthdate to watch the following clip. The following clip is definitely adult-themed and probably NOT suitable for viewing at work. Depends on where you work, of course, but still, just trying to give you fair warning.

Valerie Curtin as Ophelia Sheffer in Maxie (1985) also reveals her inner Naughty Librarian. An attractive, thirtyish brunette who works in the San Francisco Public Library, Ophelia makes a pass at fellow librarian Nick (Mandy Patinkin), who rejects her not-so-subtle advances. And after an embarrassing moment at a library fundraiser, she attempts to blackmail him into sex by threatening to fire him.

Other examples of not-so-exemplary behavior exhibited by Naughty Librarians include revenge and blackmail that ultimately lead to a man’s suicide (Weird Woman, 1944, also see this post) and participating in a sinister island ritual to sacrifice an innocent man’s life (The Wicker Man, 1973).

But not all Naughty Librarians are bad girls at heart (see Hammett, 1982; The Man Who Never Was, 1956). In the immortal words of Jessica Rabbit, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” For example, in Hammett, the perpetually underdressed Kit (Marilu Henner) helps out hard-boiled Hammett (Frederic Forrest), who tells her that the only person he trusts in the world is “a librarian with a smart mouth.” Early in the film, she shares a flirtatious scene with Hammett’s friend, Jimmy (Peter Boyle). After spying her lingerie hanging up, he asks, “Is that what you wear to the library?” and Kit vamps it up in response, “That’s what I wear underneath what I wear to the library.” Too bad we never get to see her in a library setting. But you can catch a glimpse of her in a blue silk nightie in the trailer below.

Click to view Hammett trailer in a new window

Next week, the male Naughty Librarians round up this series on reel librarian character types. Stay tuned! :)

Letting our hair down

Librarian or not, you’ve probably heard (or voiced?) something similar to the following:

“Glasses can make ladies sexy as well, but only as they are taken off, followed by a slow-motion shake of the head to let her hair down out of that librarian bun.”

~ Stephen Colbert, “Men With Glasses,” People Nov. 27, 2006: 133.

The naughty, or sexy female librarian, is a pretty common role for reel librarians — and I would venture a common fantasy also — as illustrated by this Naughty Librarian character in Tomcats (2001):

At work

At play

Mindy Kaling wrote an interesting article, “Flick Chicks: A Guide to Women  in the Movies” in a recent issue of New Yorker magazine (Oct. 3, 2011, p. 36). Although the article focuses on female roles in romantic comedies and doesn’t mention librarians at all, this quote caught my eye:

“And since when does holding a job necessitate that a woman pull her hair back in a severe, tight bun? Do screenwriters think that loose hair makes it hard to concentrate?”

A couple of intriguing rhetorical questions. Discuss!

Yes, pulling the hair back tightly is a convenient, simple way to visually demonstrate seriousness. And the image of a woman then shaking her hair loose — symbolizing the loosening of her libido, perhaps? –  adds to the fantasy. Whether you love it, hate it, or feel indifferent, the Naughty Librarian is here to stay (and play).

A Weird Librarian

Weird Woman (1944), directed by Reginald Le Borg, is a horror story, one whose title character could be either of the two main female characters in the film.

While on an expedition in the South Seas, college professor Norman Reed (Lon Chaney, Jr.) marries Paula (Anne Gwynne), a native woman who continues her superstitious beliefs upon their return to the U.S. His unexpected marriage angers his ex-girlfriend, college librarian Ilona (Evelyn Ankers, who starred in several horror films, including the classic The Wolf Man), who embarks on revenge. Hell hath no fury… like a librarian scorned!

Ilona is blonde, young, beautiful, and wears striking modern clothing. However, she does not seem like a dedicated librarian because she is never in the library; rather, she is always in her office, which appears as large as or even bigger than the actual library. Of the actual college library, we only get to see a glimpse of bookcases, a ladder, and a dictionary stand.

Evelyn Ankers in Weird Woman

Her student assistant, Margaret, shelves books, and students always have to open Ilona’s door in order to talk to her. Margaret, obviously intelligent and efficient, displays an eagerness to help. She  is a brunette with shoulder-length hair, skirt suit, and no glasses. Ilona, of course, abuses her assistant’s eagerness and stirs up trouble among Margaret, her boyfriend, and Professor Reed.

Ilona is a classic example of a Naughty Librarian who turns to violent and/or criminal manipulation when her love is unrequited or thwarted. She also uses her library’s resources to create more mischief (of course!). She is the (deserving?) recipient of several nasty, unflattering comments, including the following descriptions:

“A jealous old cat”

“There’s something about your smile right now that makes me think of Jack the Ripper”

Enjoy a clip from Weird Woman below:

An interesting note about the film’s 1962 remake: In Burn, Witch Burn! (aka The Night of the Eagle), the librarian character is changed to a female professor. The character’s name is also changed, from Ilona Carr to Flora Carr. The student library assistant’s name, Margaret Mercer, is also changed in the remake, to Margaret Abbott; her occupation, other than that of a student, is unknown in the 1962 version.