Repeat offenders

I was recently updating my Actor and Actress lists, and I noticed a couple of actors who have portrayed reel librarians more than once. And I don’t mean those who have portrayed the same character in multiple movies (Stringer Davis in the Miss Marple series of the 1960’s; Noah Wyle and Bob Newhart in The Librarian TV movies; Rachel Weisz in The Mummy franchise). I’m talking about those who have multiple reel librarian characters to their resume.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

John Rothman is one of those character actors who have been in LOTS of movies — so when you see him, you feel a flash of vague recognition. He has portrayed two reel librarians, each one quite brief yet memorable. He played Roger Delacorte in Ghostbusters (1984) and the Librarian in Sophie’s Choice (1982). He was obviously the go-to male librarian of the early 1980’s.

His role in Sophie’s Choice has already made my “Hall of Shame” list — talk about a memorable first impression! He is so rude in the brief library scene that Sophie (Meryl Streep) faints right after. Yes, of course, there are other factors affecting her poor health — but I am convinced it is the tongue-lashing she receives from this terrible reel librarian that pushes her over the edge (see below). In a film filled with flashbacks of Nazi soldiers, his librarian character STILL manages to come off as mean. Yikes.

So how did Rothman do his second time around? Not much better, I’m sorry to say. In Ghostbusters, he plays an insensitive, nervy library administrator, one who is more concerned about his precious reputation than about his librarian employee who got the shock of her life in the New York Public Library basement. Sigh.

Justine Johnston has also played two reel librarians. She barely registers in Running on Empty (1988) when she helps the main characters with some microfilm.

However, she certainly makes a bigger impression in her next reel librarian role, in The New Guy (2002). In that film’s opening scene, Johnston’s character portrays some of the most crass behavior EVER from a reel librarian! Let’s just say she provides a unique twist to the film — and to a young man’s certain sensitive body part. This unfortunate — and, no doubt, painful — incident happens in front of the entire school. So this reel librarian basically becomes the reason the main character switches schools. Poor guy!

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3 comments on “Repeat offenders

  1. […] Rothman (he also stars in my “Repeat Offenders” post) has made his mark in playing this type of male librarian, appearing in two films as an […]

  2. […] We start off with a supernatural being who “scared the socks off some poor librarian,” Alice Drummond effectively playing the freaked-out librarian. John Rothman plays the insensitive library manager, which I go into more detail here. […]

  3. […] played a blink-and-you’ll-miss-that-librarian in Running on Empty (1988) — see also this post about repeat offenders — but she makes a more, shall we say, lasting impression in this film. Her turn as Mrs. […]

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