The bigfoot librarian

My husband and I recently rewatched the ’80s film Harry and the Hendersons (1987), which was filmed and set in nearby Washington state. It’s a cult classic comedy starring John Lithgow and (surprise!) David Suchet. The film is about a family who (literally) run into Bigfoot while on a family camping trip, and they take him home. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. As one could surmise from the title font. 😉

Reel Librarians  |  Title card from 'Harry and the Hendersons' (1987)

In a short scene almost exactly halfway through the film, Lithgow goes to the public library and asks for information on Bigfoot. The librarian directs him to the section on fantasy, myths and legends.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from 'Harry and the Henderson' (1987)

Here’s how their entire reference interview goes:

Librarian:  May I help you?

George:  Yes. I’m on my lunch break, and I’m kind of in a hurry. Could you point me to some books on the, uh, Bigfoot?  

Librarian:  Sasquatch?

George:  Sasquatch.

Librarian: Sasquatch?

George:  That’s the one.

Librarian:  Fantasy, folklore, myths and legends, basement stacks, take the stairs.

George:  Thank you.

Librarian:  You could also try children’s books.

The unnamed librarian is played by Peggy Platt, and the most memorable thing about her is… her spiky mullet hairstyle. Yikes. The ’80s indeed. Perhaps her hairdo was an homage to Bigfoot? 😉

Reel Librarians  |  Comparing the reel librarian and Bigfoot from 'Harry and the Hendersons' (1987)

Even Bigfoot has a friendlier face than the reel librarian in ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ (1987)

The librarian fulfills the role of Information Provider in a Class III film. Granted, she doesn’t give much information, and her attitude is very dismissive. But this also serves a purpose. Her dismissive attitude of Bigfoot and Sasquatch as fantasy and in the children’s domain is also reflective of the common viewpoint of such legends. We are treated to several more different variations of this social dismissal of the Bigfoot legend throughout the film, jokes and laughter coming from a local policeman and a local television personality, among others.

The librarian’s directions, although minimal, obviously helped, as we see the family going through some a pile of materials later at home. One of the books he takes home is entitled Bigfoot One on One: A True Story by Oliver Dear.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from 'Harry and the Henderson' (1987)

Side note:  Y’all KNOW I looked that title up in WorldCat, but no such book exists. But I noticed that the author, Oliver Dear, has the same last name as the film’s director, William Dear — and it turns out Oliver is William’s son! Both are still involved in the film industry, William Dear in directing and Oliver Dear in visual production.

George’s son is a born critic, declaring: “This book sucks!”

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from 'Harry and the Henderson' (1987)

I’m sure his son wouldn’t say that about the film he’s in… 😉 It’s a mediocre comedy, to be sure, and a modest success when it was released. It’s become a bit of a cult classic since then, and a film thought of fondly around here, especially as it was filmed on location.

And Sasquatch in general is still a big deal up here in the Pacific Northwest. As evidenced by a shot I took while at the ACRL Conference this past spring:

ACRL Sasquatch sighting

Bigfoot lives! Sasquatch + librarians = ♥



2 comments on “The bigfoot librarian

  1. […] everything about rewatching the cult classic ’80s film Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and putting this analysis post […]

  2. […] had previously written a post analyzing that library scene in Harry and the Hendersons, and I knew that the film had been made in the Pacific Northwest — but I hadn’t […]

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