‘Sitting pretty’ in the book shoppe

The Book Shoppe Proprietress does exhibit some librarian-like behavior

In Sitting Pretty (1948), eccentric Lynn Belvedere (Best Actor nominee Clifton Webb) 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 VI 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
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 in Sitting Pretty
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.

Book Shoppe Proprietress at work in Sitting Pretty
Book Shoppe Proprietress at work

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!

Index closeup in Sitting Pretty
Index closeup

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

Sources used:

  • Sitting Pretty. Dir. Walter Lang. Perf. Robert Young, Maureen O’Hara, Clifton Webb, Ed Begley. 20th Century Fox, 1948.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

2 thoughts 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. 🙂

    1. Tee hee! It really kind of bugs me that “Mortensen” is the only name out of order, and McPherson is the only one without a first name… so so close!

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