Breakin’ the rules

Sometimes, librarians on film fulfill the role of rule-breakers, and are all the more memorable for it

Reel librarians almost always seem synonymous with rules. Librarians = rule-mongers. But sometimes, librarians on film fulfill the role of rule-breakers, and are all the more memorable for it. 😉

Breakin' the rules collage

Archangel (TV, 2005):


There are two library/archives scenes in this TV film, and both scenes involve two Information Providers:  one restrictive and focused on rules (the rule-monger) and the other obliging and helpful (the rule-breaker, or rather, rule-bender). In the first scene early in the film, the rule-monger is the Older Librarian; in the second scene, the younger Clerk tries to crack that whip. And in both cases, the rule-benders prevail. Hmmm….

Both scenes are also pivotal in propelling the plot forward, as the rule-bending librarian/archivist provides a crucial bit of info. One scene is set in a massive state library in Russia, while the other takes place in a humble, small-town archives room.


Flight of the Intruder (1991):


Set during the Vietnam War, a young pilot questions bombing missions after his partner is killed. In one short scene, a young officer in the ship’s library allows the pilot to check out a non-circulating issue of National Geographic (rule-breaker!) that contains maps of North Vietnam.


The Seventh Victim (1943):


The reel librarian in this film, Miss Gottschalk (Sarah Shelby in an uncredited role), is in only one scene that lasts under a minute. But in that minute, she sells her soul for a few cheap compliments and half-hearted flirting, breaking the rules to provide a random male patron with restricted book culled from the private records of library patrons. This portrayal also has the distinction of being in the first horror film to feature a reel librarians.


And, of course, there are the reel librarians who are determined to punish rule-breakers, such as our resident serial killer, Miss Sally, the title character in the horror film Chainsaw Sally (2004).

But that’s another story … 😉


Sources used:


  • Archangel (TV movie). Dir. Jon Jones. Perf. Daniel Craig, Ekaterina Rednikova, Gabriel Macht. BBC, 2005.
  • Flight of the Intruder. Dir. John Milius. Perf. Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, Brad Johnson, Rosanna Arquette. Paramount, 1991.
  • The Seventh Victim. Dir. Mark Robson. Perf. Kim Hunter, Jean Brooks, Tom Conway, Isabel Jewell, Erford Gage. RKO, 1943.
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Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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