The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’

This week, I am analyzing another cult classic, 1986’s Pretty in Pink, written by by John Hughes and starring Molly Ringwald as Andie, Andrew McCarthy as Blane, and Jon Cryer as Duckie. The plot is as basic as they come:  the girl’s guy friend (Duckie) has a crush on the girl (Andie) while the girl has a crush on another boy (Blane). (The plot was recycled the next year by Hughes in Say Anything, with two girls and a guy making up the film’s love triangle.)

Sixteen minutes into the film, we see a wide shot of the school library, and then the camera focuses in on Andie, who is typing into a computer.

Reel Librarians | The school library in 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Andie working on a school library computer

We’ve already seen her in class — wearing glasses, which is the prop shortcut for “smart” — so we know she’s actually working on a school project and not just goofing around. She also types this herself, just to make it clear for the audience. Her computer is hijacked by an anonymous string of flirty messages. (Like texting! Only with clunky, vintage artifacts called “desktop computers” 😉 )

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Computer flirting in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

And who is “meeting cute” with Andie via computer? None other than Andie’s crush, Blane!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Love begins in the school library!

True love begins in the library! 😉

There is a reel librarian seen briefly in this short scene, but we don’t hear her speak — or even see her face! All we see is the back of her, an older woman in a flowery dress, leaning over and helping another student at a computer at the carrels. This reel librarian, unsurprisingly, gets no listing in the film’s credit, but she does fulfill the Information Provider role. This film lands in the Class IV category, films in which the librarian(s) plays a cameo role and is seen only briefly with little or no dialogue.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

School librarian in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

The real star of this scene — besides the sweet expressions on the young lovers’ faces as they smile at each other over the library carrels — has to be the advanced computer graphics!

Behold:

Reel Librarians | Computer graphics from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Computer graphics in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

What I enjoyed most about this one-minute scene is that it plays with almost no sound. No talking at all (true to libraries in the movies!), and no sounds except for the sound effects of typing on the keyboard.

The school library setting  in the film feels authentic to real life, with its rows of computer carrals, bookcases lining the walls, and the wooden card catalogs. It feels like a cheery school library, bright and welcoming, with classical touches like the bust statues scattered around the tops of the bookcases.

Looking through the filming locations in IMDb.com, I would guess it’s the school library from either the John Burroughs Middle School or the John Marshall High School, both located in Los Angeles. Each school has been a location for several films! This article on the Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations states that the John Marshall High School served as the exterior of Andie’s ‘Meadowbrook High School’ while the John Burroughs Middle School was used for the interiors.

 

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2 comments on “The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’

  1. popegrutch says:

    That is an amazing number of computers for a High School library in 1986! We can see eight, and each row of four presumably has another row on the other side, making at least 16. I think there might not have been that many computers in the whole BUILDING in my school that year. I wonder if any computer geek can tell us what kind of computer that was?
    If they shot it on location, it’s conceivable that the librarian in the shot is the actual school librarian for one of those schools.

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