Advertising the reel librarian

Taglines advertising reel librarian films

There are a fair number of films featuring leading roles for reel librarians, but how are they advertised? Are the words librarian or library even mentioned in the taglines? Intrigued, I took a look at movie posters and taglines for movies in the Class I category, films in which the protagonist or other major characters are librarians. It wasn’t until after the first draft of this post that I realized I had chosen at least one film from each decade, spanning the 1930s through the 1990s. So meta.

So let’s take a peek at taglines advertising the reel librarian through the decades, shall we? 🙂

Notes: I’ve arranged the following in order of the U.S. release dates.


Forbidden (1932):


Her greatest dramatic role!

This was quite early in Barbara Stanwyck’s movie career, so it’s interesting that the studio was already heavily promoting her as a major star. Stanwyck had gained notice the year before, in the 1931 Night Nurse (saving two children from Clark Gable in a rare villainous turn!), but she was still a year away from Baby Face (1933) and five years away from her first Oscar nomination in 1937, for Stella Dallas.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


No Man of Her Own (1932):


Gable as You Want him, A love ’em and leave ’em gambler, whose insults only added fuel to a woman’s reckless devotion.

Clark Gable gets the attention in the tagline, but no hint that Carole Lombard plays a librarian. The real-life romance between Gable and Lombard didn’t begin until four years after this film — which, incidentally, tells you a lot about this film.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Adventure (1945):


Gable’s back and Garson’s got him!

Gable’s back with another reel librarian romance! The tagline emphasizes its leading stars, Clark Gable and Greer Garson, and their so-called chemistry. Unfortunately, the movie does not live up to its adventurous title.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Good News (1947):


M-G-M’s Terrific Technicolor Musical!

This tagline trumpets the news of “M-G-M’s Terrific Technicolor Musical!” but doesn’t reveal anything about the plot, college setting, or librarian role.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Storm Center (1956):


Bette Davis hits the screen in a cyclone of dramatic fury!

In all the years, no picture has said this!

Those taglines say a whole lot of nothing, don’t they? The storyline is one to make librarians stand up and cheer — standing up to censorship in a small town — but the end result? Dismal.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Desk Set (1957):


Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn… make the office such a wonderful place to love in!

Meet the Desk Set… from 9 o’clock coffee to 5 o’clock cocktails — and, oh, those fabulous Christmas parties!

One of my favorite reel librarian movies ever… and NO mention of the library! True, the library in question is a TV company’s research library, not the first kind of library one thinks of. And there IS a fabulous Christmas party in this film. The taglines definitely play up the zany comedy angle, and highlight its successful stars. Hepburn and Tracy made 9 films together over 25 years, and this was their next-to-last pairing together.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Rome Adventure (1962):


This was her European plan for learning about love.

She wanted to learn about love from a mature, suave Italian with a villa by the sea – until a young, handsome American came along and changed her European plan.

The original title for this film was Lovers Must Learn (read all about it, plus view the movie’s trailer, in a prior blog post here). I wonder how late in the game they changed the title to Rome Adventure, because the whole “learning” aspect is quite prominent in those taglines.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Only Two Can Play (1962):


Two’s company… three’s a comedy!

This film hails from the UK, with Peter Sellers playing a very sexually frustrated librarian looking for a promotion in all the wrong places. But again, no mention of the library setting, characters, or plot.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


The Music Man (1962):


We’ve got the man, we’ve got the music, we’ve got “The Music Man”

The story of that man and his 76 trombones, and the wonderful, wonderful tune he played on every heart in town!

1962 was a banner year for major reel librarian characters, no?

There are several taglines for this hit musical, which was based on the 1957 hit play by Meredith Willson. This movie immortalized “Marian the Librarian” but the title character is Robert Preston’s Harold Hill, the con man who sweeps the town — and the reel librarian — off their collective feet. The taglines all focus on the central character, not the librarian.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


You’re a Big Boy Now (1966):


The odyssey of a young youth who wants no part of sex. He wants it all!

The motion picture that’s happening now!

Oh, those “young youths,” how they tease us! 😉 I love the randomness and vagueness of these taglines.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Foul Play (1978):


A new comedy thriller from the creators of “Silver Streak.”

Another major reel librarian character (Goldie Hawn as Gloria Mundy) with no mention of that occupation on the poster. True, the plot moves quickly from the library and into the streets of San Francisco, but Gloria’s resourcefulness begins with kicking some butt with an umbrella while locking up the library. And no, that’s not a metaphor.

The tagline focuses on the accomplishments of writer/director Colin Higgins, who had a hit two years earlier with the comedy-action flick Silver Streak. Higgins also had another cult classic on his filmography, Harold and Maude (1971), and would go on to write and direct the comedy hits Nine to Five (1980) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). Smart advertising strategy.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Off Beat (1986):


The real life adventures of a make-believe cop.

This movie involves a whole host of oddball reel librarians (star Judge Reinhold included), a case of mistaken identity, satiny cop costumes, a dancing cop routine, show tunes, and a bank heist in which well-timed choreography saves the day. Oh, and roller skates. I’m actually glad there’s no hint of librarianship in the tagline!

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992):


She was a nobody, until someone found… The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag!”

Betty Lou is a children’s librarian, the “nobody” in the tagline. FAIL.

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here


Party Girl (1995):


There’s a new librarian in town!

The new queen of the art house

Finally, the word librarian makes it into a tagline! One more reason to love this film. The other tagline puts the spotlight on breakout indie film star Parker Posey (hence, the “queen of the art house” mention).

Read more about the movie and basic plot by clicking here

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Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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