‘Incident at Dark River’ librarian

You never need to apologize for asking a librarian a question. That’s why we’re here!

It’s often quite difficult to get copies of TV movies, so I was glad to come across Incident at Dark River (TV, 1989) on my cable’s On Demand listings. Starring veteran TV actors Mike Farrell, Tess Harper, and a young Helen Hunt (!), it tells the story of a father, Tim McFall (Farrell), mourning the sudden death of his daughter. He sets out to investigate and finds out his daughter’s death was caused by toxic waste dumped in the river by the local manufacturing factory, which also happens to be the town’s biggest employer.

About a half hour in, the camera closes in on the the father’s hand as he rifles through a card catalog. Remember those? Ah, good times. Tim’s a college professor, so he’s most likely at the college library. He takes a file drawer to his table, which is scattered with various thick volumes, and he scribbles something down.

The interior of the library is quite dimly lit, with large white poles, fluorescent lights, and rows of tightly arranged bookshelves (see below). Is the dark lighting reflective of the father’s despair, or is it just the low budget showing its seams? I was not quick-witted enough to take note of the credits at the time of viewing (and the TV movie has since disappeared from my On Demand listings), but I did manage to track down online the TV movie’s filming location:  Weber County and its county seat, Ogden (Haws). I’m not sure of the exact location used for the university scenes, but the most likely candidate is Weber State University.

Library setting in Incident at Dark River
Library setting in Incident at Dark River

So after scribbling down some notes, the father rises from the library table. In this long shot, we can see a long table in the forefront, with a computer keyboard and monitor. We are then introduced to the back of the librarian. This is a common way to introduce a reel librarian (see my post about The Good Companions), as it visually deemphasizes the librarian in a supporting role.

The unnamed librarian (Michaela Nelligan) is a middle-aged white female, dressed conservatively in a button-up shirt and dark, long-sleeved cardigan. Her dark brown hair is pulled back in a bun (see screenshot below).

The father hands the librarian the slip of paper, obviously having written down a specific resource.

Tim:  Sorry I keep doing this.

Librarian [looking up and closing a book]:   It’s no problem. You know we have a club here on campus for people who are concerned about the environment.

Tim:  Actually, I didn’t know that.

Librarian:  Well, it just occurred to me that if you’re researching something specific they might be able to tell you where to look.

Tim:  Thank you.

Librarian:  Sure. [walks off, presumably to obtain the resource he’s wanting]

Reel librarian in Incident at Dark River
Reel librarian in Incident at Dark River

Although we never see more than 3/4 of her face (see above) and the scene only lasts about a minute, the librarian proves herself a useful Information Provider in this Class IV TV movie. She helps to propel the plot and is quite pleasant and efficient. She reinforces the idea that she’s an academic librarian, by mentioning the “club here on campus.” However, she is actually in a better position to help him than the environment club; in the next scene, Tim goes to the club and basically has to educate them himself on the issues of pollution and its effects on the local water supply.

And as a side note, you never need to apologize for asking a librarian a question. That’s why we’re here! 🙂

Sources used:

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

4 thoughts on “‘Incident at Dark River’ librarian”

  1. Thanks! Yes, it’s true, so many small librarian scenes in film really do serve a pivotal role, plot-wise. We librarians are so useful, both in real life and onscreen! 🙂

  2. We had a restaurant it during the time of the filming. We are also fans of mash.
    We put a banner out for Mike Farrel to come in the restaurant but he came in and looked around turned his nose up and left.
    From that point on I only watch mash up and to the point that BJ arrives he changed the show and is nothing but a big Liberal ,baby ,crier.
    I do know all of the locations of the film.

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