Reel librarians on the loose

A round-up of reel librarians never seen inside their libraries. Librarians in name only?

Spring has sprung, which has definitely inspired me to be outside more. And that got me thinking about reel librarians never seen inside their libraries. I also mentioned this sub-category of reel librarian portrayals in a recent post that included a brief list of reel librarians whose professions are merely referred to, separated from their natural work habitats. Librarians in name only? 😉

Here’s to reel librarians on the loose!

The Asphalt Jungle (1950):

This Class II film and classic film noir features ex-convict “Doc” (Sam Jaffe), who plans a big jewelry heist immediately after getting out of prison. We learn in an early scene that he was made assistant librarian in prison, because he caused no trouble to  prison authorities. So library duty = good behavior in prison? Didn’t seem like Doc learned that lesson in real life.

At First Sight (1999):

This Class IV film highlights a brief cameo of a local librarian, played by the film director’s real-life wife. Although we see Nancy the librarian for only a few seconds out on the sidewalk while the main stars (Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino) go for a quick stroll through town, the librarian’s spunky, chipper personality lasts much longer.

The Golden Child (1986):

In this Class III film, private detective Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) sets out to find the “Golden Child,” a Buddhist mystic who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer. Early on in a scene set in a nondescript building, a mysterious lady named Kala supplies Jarrell with information about the Golden Child and his quest. It is revealed that Kala is a librarian and a half-dragon lady over 300 years old (!). Although not the only not-quite-human reel librarian (see Necronomicon, Book of the Dead, 1993), she is quite memorable, even outside her Sacred Depository library.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990):

In this dystopian Class II film, fertility becomes a rare commodity (literally), and fertile young women trained as Handmaids are treated as household slaves. Natasha Richardson plays a Handmaid, and we learn in one scene that she used to be a librarian.

Heart and Souls (1993):

This Class II film features Robert Downey, Jr., and his four guardian angels. Charles Grodin plays Harrison, one of the guardian angels, who we learn was a librarian in his past life. Although never seen in a library, he retains an uptight personality, buttoned-up tweed suit, and bow tie.

High School High (1996):

This Class IV comedy includes a school librarian cameo as well as a fight scene set in the library — but not the two together! The librarian yells out unflattering insults (“You suck!”) to the main character, played by Jon Lovitz, in a couple of short scenes set in the school auditorium, but is nowhere to be seen when a fight breaks out in the school library. Who sucks now?!

The Last Supper (1995):

This Class III black comedy features a group of grad student roommates who kill off right-wing thinkers over dinner. A young librarian makes for a memorable victim. Her character is listed as “The Illiterate Librarian”… maybe she needed to spend more time in the library? 😉

Pride and Prejudice (1940):

This Class III film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel changes Mr. Collins’s occupation from a clergyman to personal librarian to Lady Catherine de Burgh. Alas, no sight of the library of his esteemed patroness.

Rome Adventure (1962):

This Class I film starts out with an intense scene, in which librarian Prudence Bell (Pleshette) quits her job at Briarcroft College for Women after being reprimanded for recommending a “too adult” book to a student. After setting sail for Itality, Prudence does start working in a bookstore, but we never see her in an actual library.

That Touch of Mink (1962):

In this Class III comedy, Cary Grant and his friend, played by Gig Young, break into a motel room in order to find Doris Day and end up interrupting a romantic tryst between a librarian and her would-be lover. (What a strange line to write — but it does make sense in the context of the film!) One of the rare occasions a reel librarian is seen in states of undress.

This Happy Breed (1944):

This Class III drama follows one British family from the end of WWI through the start of WWII. Aunt Sylvia, a tiresome maiden aunt and whiny hypochondriac, lives with her brother’s family. Although declaring herself too ill to work time and again, we learn late in the film that Sylvia has been working at the library. This job is mentioned only in passing and is not a major plot point or scene setting.

The War of the Worlds (1953):

The main female lead in this Class II film is Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), who we learn teaches library science courses at a local university. But there’s no time for library science when Martians are invading Earth! So Sylvia teams up with the hero-scientist (Gene Barry) in order to defeat the aliens.

Sources used:

  • The Asphalt Jungle. Dir. John Huston. Perf. Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe. MGM, 1950.
  • At First Sight. Dir. Irwin Winkler. Perf. Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino, Kelly McGillis. MGM, 1999.
  • The Golden Child. Dir. Michael Ritchie. Perf. Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis. Paramount, 1986.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale. Dir. Volker Schlindorff. Perf. Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern. Cinecom, 1990.
  • Heart and Souls. Dir. Ron Underwood. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, Elisabeth Shue. Universal, 1993.
  • High School High. Dir. Hart Bochner. Perf. Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Louise Fletcher, Mekhi Phifer. TriStar, 1996.
  • The Last Supper. Dir. Stacy Title. Perf. Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Courtney B. Vance. Columbia, 1995.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Dir. Robert Z. Leonard. Perf. Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O’Sullivan, Edna May Oliver, Edmund Gwenn. MGM, 1940.
  • Rome Adventure. Dir. Delmer Daves. Perf. Suzanne Pleshette, Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, Rossano Brazzi. Warner Bros., 1962.
  • That Touch of Mink. Dir. Delbert Mann. Perf. Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young, Audrey Meadows. Universal-International, 1962.
  • This Happy Breed. Dir. David Lean. Perf. Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills. Eagle-Lion/Universal, 1944.
  • The War of the Worlds. Dir. Bryon Haskin. Perf. Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite. Paramount, 1953.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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