Gimme shelter in ‘Moscow on the Hudson’

Taking respite from the rain in front of a library

The 1984 film Moscow on the Hudson surprised me. Based on the DVD cover, I was not expecting much — or rather, I guess I was expecting a lot of bad accents and Russian stereotypes. To be sure, there are some bad accents and immigrant stereotypes, but overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. In truth, I found myself falling a little bit in love with my country again. It’s a typical immigrant plotline, but an intriguing one.

However, I was disappointed not to spot any librarians in the film. I went through the movie twice and called my husband in to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. At first, I couldn’t even spot a library!

So why did I request a copy of this movie from my local public library in the first place? Because in Martin Raish’s Librarians in the Movies online filmography, the line accompanying Moscow on the Hudson states: “Robin Williams has a scene in the library.” But the film is also listed in Category D, films Raish hadn’t seen yet or found adequate descriptive comments about. Perhaps there was a library scene that got deleted at some point?

I did finally find a web site, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, that included a comment that one of the film scenes had been filmed outside a branch of the New York Public Library, the Tompkins Square Branch Library. Here’s how the outside of the library, and side alley way, appear in the movie (see below). You could also just spy a blurry library sign as the group walked past the entrance, in their hurry to get out of the rain.

Library exterior location in Moscow on the Hudson
Library exterior location in Moscow on the Hudson

It seems the library has undergone extensive renovations; click here for the branch library’s website.

So Moscow on the Hudson joins the other films in Class V, the category of films with no identifiable librarians. Below, enjoy a brief clip near the end of the movie.

The pursuit of happiness…” video uploaded by Greg Swann is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:


  • Moscow on 7th Street.” Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, 18 July 2008.
  • Moscow on the Hudson. Dir. Paul Mazursky. Perf. Robin Williams, Maria Conchita Alonso, Elya Baskin, Cleavant Derricks. Columbia, 1984.
  • Raish, Martin. “The D Group.” Librarians in the Movies: An Annotated Filmography, 5 August 2011.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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