Sitting pretty in the book shoppe

In Sitting Pretty (1948), eccentric Lynn Belvedere (Best Actor nominee Clifton Webb, seen at left) answers a family’s ad for a live-in babysitter and shakes up the family, as well as the neighborhood, with his particular manner and methods. This film spawned a couple of sequels, Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949) and Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (1951), as well as the 1980s (and personally much-beloved!) TV series Mr. Belvedere, starring Christopher Hewett in the title role.

About an hour into the film, nosy neighbor Mr. Appleton (Richard Haydn) visits the “Hummingbird Hill Book Shoppe” — there’s a closeup shot of this sign as he walks by — in order to engage in a local gossip session with Della (Mary Field, in an uncredited role), the Book Shoppe Proprietress. Although she’s listed on some other film sites as a librarian, it’s quite clear she is the owner of the local bookstore. Therefore, this film belongs in the Class V category of films with no reel librarians.

However, this Book Shoppe Proprietress does exhibit some librarian-like behavior, as showcased in her introductory scene.

Della: Here you are, Mrs. Gibbs. I know you’ll enjoy it. [handing over a book]

Mrs. Gibbs:  Thank you, Della. I certainly liked the last book you recommended.

Della:  Good. Do come in again.

Mrs. Gibbs:  Oh, I will.

Mrs. Gibbs, Della the Book Shoppe Proprietress, and gossipy Mr. Appleton in a scene from ‘Sitting Pretty’

But after this pleasant exchange of reader’s advisory, Della engages in some decidedly UN-librarian-like behavior (I would hope) in gossiping with Mr. Appleton and helping to cause a local scandal. As seen below, even in profile, it’s obvious how much she she delights in this conversation, clasping her hands in anticipation.

Gossip, delicious gossip

A couple of following scenes also feature the bookseller, including a quick montage of Della handing out copies of Belvedere’s “sensational new novel” to a cluster of customers. Also, as secrets of the community come out through Belvedere’s book, later we see a Mr. McPherson walking into the bookshop, seen below, and asking for a copy of the book as he’s heard a rumor that he’s been mentioned in it.

Again, exhibiting librarian-like skills of organizational practicality, she quickly runs her finger down a “who’s who” list of those mentioned in the book, complete with corresponding page numbers. Essentially, she’s made her own index!

Alas, this index ultimately belies her non-librarian status, as this list is in neither alphabetical nor numerical order. Tsk, tsk. So close. 😉


2 comments on “Sitting pretty in the book shoppe

  1. “this list is in neither alphabetical nor numerical order”

    Ha! I noticed the alphabetical, but I didn’t even think of the possibility of numerical! Clearly, I’m not a librarian either. 🙂

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