In the vein of the “Cinematherapy” books — which you saw a couple of on my movie book collection post — I have put together lists of different reel librarian movies for different romantic moods. Enjoy!
If you’d like to skip to a specific category, click below:
Finding your prince… with a twist | Grown-up love | Star-crossed love | Love triangles | I’m not crying… you’re crying! | Summer romances | No more drama? No way! | Love notes | Opposites attract | Love on the rocks
Finding your prince… with a twist
Ella Enchanted (2004):
This Class IV reel librarian movie features an actual “Prince Charming” (played by Hugh Dancy)! The well-known Cinderella plot hinges on Ella’s gift of obedience bestowed by a fairy godmother, Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox), whom Ella (Anne Hathaway) is trying to find in order to release this curse of a blessing. Ella tries to find a record of Lucinda’s whereabouts in the castle’s Hall of Records, where an archives clerk is most unhelpful. The twist in this movie is that Ella is the film’s true hero and savior. Read my analysis post of this film here.
Ever After (1998):
Another Cinderella story turned on its heel, starring the ever-charming Drew Barrymore as Danielle and dreamy Dougray Scott as Prince Henry. Danielle also saves the day, more than once, in this historical romance. To impress Danielle, Prince Henry takes her to a monastery library, for a fun historical version of a “first date” — swoon! Read my analysis post of this film here.
That Touch of Mink (1962):
If Cary Grant is your idea of a modern prince — and I join you in that thought! — then you can’t go wrong with this romantic comedy starring Grant as a millionaire playboy and Doris Day as the klutzy-but-adorable object of his affection. The twist? She wants marriage while he wants only an affair, and the movie is pretty straightforward about the conflict.
In one hilarious scene and sub-plot, Grant and his friend (Gig Young) break into a motel room in order to find Day, but they end up interrupting a romantic tryst between a librarian and her would-be lover. “You do believe I never cared for another man until you walked in the library?” Will the reel librarian find her own prince? Read my play-by-play post of this movie here.
Do you like to watch romance blossom slowly, but surely, between two adults, including scenes filled with the details and issues of real life? Then you might enjoy one of these romances, featuring both minor and major reel librarians:
Brief Encounter (1945):
This classic romance is about an ordinary English wife and mother (Celia Johnson) and an ordinary English husband and father (Trevor Howard) who meet one day by chance and fall in love. So simple, yet so devastating. The woman stops by the Boots Lending Library during her weekly shopping — and later uses the librarian as an excuse for staying out late! Click here to read my full post of this film.
Desk Set (1957):
In this sparkling workplace comedy, Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) expertly handles a TV network’s research library, as well as the attentions of an efficiency expert (Spencer Tracy). Their mutual admiration and respect for one another’s abilities and intelligence — a relationship in which they start out as competitors and then develop into friendship — is a delight to behold. Click here to read a comparison of the original play and the film adaptation.
Enough Said (2013):
A quirky slice-of-life glimpse into the budding romance between two middle-aged, single parents. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a free-spirited masseuse, and Albert (James Gandolfini) is a digital archivist at the fictional American Library of Cultural History. In one scene, Albert takes Eva on a tour of the archives, his office, and the public viewing room. Click here to read my full analysis post of this film.
The Magic of Ordinary Days (TV, 2005):
This TV movie romance, set during World War II, features a beautiful young woman (Keri Russell) in an arranged marriage with a lonely, good-hearted farmer (Skeet Ulrich). They slowly start to fall in love. In an early scene, they travel to the nearest public library, which is an hour away. Now that’s love! 🙂 Click here for the full analysis post of this film.
If you like your films to have a fantastical element, like time travel or reincarnation… these films might be just what you’re looking for:
The Age of Adaline (2015):
Adaline (Blake Lively), a young woman and a recent widow, gets into a car accident in the 1930s and stops aging as a result of the accident. (Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy the costumes and the camera work.) After decades of living alone, she meets a man, Ellis (Michiel Huisman), who makes her question her life choices. Adaline works in the archives at the San Francisco Heritage Society library, and there are several scenes set in the library. Click here to read my full analysis post of this romance.
Chances Are (1989):
In this romantic comedy, college library assistant Alex (Robert Downey, Jr.) falls for his girlfriend’s mother (Cybill Shepherd). Oh, and there’s the bit about the mother’s husband having been reincarnated into Alex. It’s high-concept romantic comedy… just don’t think too hard about it. 😉 Click here to read my full analysis post of this romantic comedy.
Somewhere in Time (1980):
A time-travel romance in which a Chicago playwright (Christopher Reeve) uses self-hypnosis to go back in time and meet the love of his life (Jane Seymour). This is Romance with a capital R. There is a brief but pivotal library scene toward the beginning of the film. Click here for the full post of this film.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009):
Henry (Eric Bana), a librarian, time travels in and out of a sweeping love story with Clare (Rachel McAdams). There are a couple of early scenes set in a library, and Henry is called a “special collections librarian.” Based on the best-selling book by Audrey Niffenegger. Click here to read my full analysis post of this film, which won a reader’s poll.
Wings of Desire (aka Der Himmel über Berlin, 1987):
An angel in Berlin falls in love with a mortal and wishes to become human. Although there are no reel librarians in this film, there are three memorable scenes set and filmed in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), where angels often go to hang out with humans. Revisit each library scene here in my post about this beautiful film.
When you like your romances complicated…
The Philadelphia Story (1940):
This classic romantic triangle features a a rich socialite (Katharine Hepburn), her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (Jimmy Stewart). In one comedic scene set at the public library, Hepburn and Stewart discuss a book he wrote, and a Quaker librarian shushes them. What does thee wish? To rewatch this film, of course! Click here to read my full post for this film.
A double-decker romance with two love triangles. Two literary researchers (Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart) track down the correspondence and relationship between two Victorian poets (Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle). Both the modern and Victorian romances include past (and present) romantic partners. It’s complicated. In an early scene, Eckhart checks out a book at the British Museum library and answers questions from a nosy male librarian. Click here for my review of this reader poll-winning film.
Rome Adventure (1962):
In this romantic drama, Prudence Bell (Suzanne Pleshette) quits her job as a librarian at a private college and sets off to Italy in search of adventure and love. She definitely finds them with both Rossano Brazzi and Troy Donahue, who later became Pleshette’s real-life husband. Click here to read my full post of this film.
I’m not crying… you’re crying!
“Good cry” romances, for when you need to let your emotions out:
Bed of Roses (1996):
A romance dedicated to its genre! A career woman (Mary Stuart Masterson), who’s got a lot of emotional baggage from her childhood, falls in love with a florist (Christian Slater), who can’t stop sending her roses. The florist also has his own emotional baggage. On a day out together, they stop by the public library to hear a children’s storytime hour.
City of Angels (1998):
This romantic drama follows an angel (Nicolas Cage) who becomes romantically involved with a doctor (Meg Ryan). The angels like to visit the San Francisco Public Library — I don’t blame them — and there are several short scenes set in the library, including one featuring a young male circulation clerk. Although a remake of 1987’s Wings of Desire — also included in this round-up — this plot and tone of this film is very different from its original inspiration. Click here for my full post of this film.
Love Story (1970):
The first scene of this film, set in the Radcliffe College library, sets up the five-hanky romance between Jenny (Ali MacGraw) and Oliver (Ryan O’Neal). Jenny is a student library assistant, but we quickly find out she’s a music major. Have the Kleenex ready!
For when you want to relive the fleeting love of youth…
Goodbye, Columbus (1969):
A poor Bronx librarian (Richard Benjamin) enjoys a summer romance with a privileged “Jewish-American princess” (Ali MacGraw). Based on the book by Philip Roth.
Racing with the Moon (1984):
This is a romantic drama set during World War II. Two young men (Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage), about to join the Marines in early 1943, spend their final days in town finding out about love and growing up. Penn falls in love with the new girl in town (Elizabeth McGovern), who works part-time at the local public library. Turns out Elizabeth McGovern and Sean Penn enjoyed an off-screen romance during the making of this film, even becoming engaged for a short time afterward.
No more drama? No way!
For when you don’t want your romance sweetened with comedy or musical numbers… just bring the drama!
In this film’s first scene, Lulu (Barbara Stanwyck), a lonely and idealistic young librarian, quits her library job. She cleans out her bank account and sets sail for Havana, where she becomes romantically involved with an older man (Adolphe Menjou). Romantic melodrama ensues: the plot includes an illegitimate child, a lifelong adulterous affair, murder, and a deathbed pardon!
Where the Heart Is (2000):
In this chicken-fried romance, a pregnant teen (Natalie Portman) rebuilds her life after giving birth in a small town’s Walmart. Along the way, she falls in love with a young man (James Frain), who runs the local public library and cares for his alcoholic sister, the real librarian. There are a LOT of odd and dramatic subplots and characters in this film.
Movie musicals that feature librarians, for when you are in the mood for love to be set to song.
Good News (1947):
A college student and library assistant (perpetual cutie June Allyson) falls for the college’s football hero (Peter Lawford) in this musical comedy. One of musical scenes, “The French Lesson,” is set in the library.
The Music Man (1962):
In this classic movie musical, con man Harold Hill (Robert Preston) tries to scam a community into buying band uniforms — and ends up falling for the librarian. As you do. 😉 Shirley Jones’s portrayal of Marian has been immortalized in popular culture, in part due to the song “Marian the Librarian.”
Strike Up the Band (1940):
In this “putting on a show” musical romance, high schooler Jimmy Connors (Mickey Rooney) wants to start a dance orchestra band to compete in a national radio contest. His girlfriend Mary (Judy Garland) sings along for the ride. We learn later in the film that Mary works part-time at the local library. This has nothing to do with the plot of the film, except that she sings a song while closing up at the library.
For when you’re in the mood for two strong personalities to crash into love and let the sparks fly!
A buttoned-up public librarian (Greer Garson) falls for a roustabout sailor (Clark Gable) in this rocky romantic drama. The two “meet cute” in the San Francisco Public Library.
In this LGBTQ romance and independent film, a former child actress (Sarah Stouffer) attends college and falls in love with a female psychology professor (Allison McAtee). When she gets a chance to return to Hollywood, what will she choose? Although both women are blonde, their personalities are very different, as are their roles as student and professor. There is a sexy scene set in the college library, as well as a young reel librarian at the end of the film. Click here for the full post of this film.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961):
In this classic romance, free spirit Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) finally finds love with writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). You get a sense that there is an old soul within Holly’s carefully curated nonchalance, while Varjak comes off as a man-child who pretends to be suave but is really desperate for love. Opposites attract? There are a couple of scenes set in the New York Public Library; in one of those scenes, Varjak autographs a copy of his book in the library, which the librarian exclaims is “defacing public property!”
No Man of Her Own (1932):
In this romantic drama, con artist and gambler (Clark Gable) goes to small town Glendale to escape prosecution and ends up falling in love with the young, straight-laced, and sassy-mouthed librarian (Carole Lombard). OF COURSE. A few scenes are set in the library, including one in which Gable looks up Lombard’s skirt while she shelves books!
Love on the rocks
For when you’re in an “anti-romance” mode… when love goes dark, and you’re in the mood to make some trouble:
I Love You to Death (1990):
This pitch-black comedy has a different take on a romance: a deadly one. A loyal Italian-American wife, Rosalie (Tracey Ullman), tries several times to kill her husband (Kevin Kline) after she finds out that he is cheating. And where does she find out about his philandering ways? At the local public library. (SIGH.) Click here for the full post of this film.
In this noirish romance, hapless librarian Frank (John Simm) falls in love with the mysterious Miranda (Christina Ricci) and goes after her when she disappears from his life one day. The film’s opening sequence is set in the library, which is set for demolition. Click here for a special double feature post of this film.
Still in the mood for love…
… and more reel librarian romance? Browse to your heart’s content the following posts:
- Reel librarians in love
- Romance and the reel librarian
- A love song for a librarian
- Valentine’s Day round-up of reel librarian love
- Revisiting my round-up of reel librarian love
Any favorites here? Are you now in the mood for a reel librarian romance? Please leave a comment and share!
- The Age of Adaline. Dir. Lee Toland Krieger. Perf. Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn. Lionsgate, 2015.
- Adventure. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Greer Garson, Clark Gable. MGM, 1945.
- Bed of Roses. Dir. Michael Goldenberg. Perf. Mary Stuart Masterson, Christian Slater. New Line, 1996.
- Bloomington. Dir. Fernanda Cardoso. Perf. Allison McAtee, Sarah Stouffer. Frontier Studios, 2010.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Dir. Blake Edwards. Perf. Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Mickey Rooney, Patricia Neal. Paramount, 1961. Based on the novella by Truman Capote.
- Brief Encounter. Dir. David Lean. Perf. Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard. Cineguild, 1945.
- Chances Are. Dir. Emile Ardolino. Perf. Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey, Jr., Ryan O’Neal, Mary Stuart Masterson, Christopher McDonald. TriStar, 1989.
- City of Angels. Dir. Brad Silberling. Perf. Meg Ryan, Nicolas Cage, Dennis Franz. Warner Bros., 1998.
- Desk Set. Dir. Walter Lang. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill. 20th Century Fox, 1957.
- Enough Said. Dir. Nicole Holofcener. Perf. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2013.
- Ella Enchanted. Dir. Tommy O’Haver. Perf. Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes. Miramax, 2004.
- Ever After. Dir. Andy Tennant. Perf. Drew Barrymore, Dougray Scott, Anjelica Huston. 20th Century Fox, 1998.
- Forbidden. Dir. Frank Capra. Perf. Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy. Columbia, 1932.
- Good News. Dir. Charles Walters. Perf. June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Patricia Marshall. MGM, 1947.
- Goodbye, Columbus. Dir. Larry Peerce. Perf. Richard Benjamin, Ali MacGraw, Jack Klugman. Paramount, 1969.
- I Love You to Death. Dir. Lawrence Kasdan. Perf. Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, Joan Plowright, River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, William Hurt. TriStar, 1990.
- Love Story. Dir. Arthur Hiller. Perf. Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley, Ray Milland. Paramount, 1970.
- The Magic of Ordinary Days (TV movie). Dir. Brent Shields. Perf. Keri Russell, Skeet Ulrich, Mare Winningham. Hallmark Hall of Fame, 2005.
- Miranda. Dir. Marc Munden. Perf. Christina Ricci, John Simm, Kyle MacLachlan, John Hurt. Feelgood Films, 2002.
- The Music Man. Dir. Morton DaCosta. Perf. Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Ron Howard. Warner Bros., 1962.
- No Man of Her Own. Dir. Wesley Ruggles. Perf. Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Dorothy Mackaill, Grant Mitchell. Paramount, 1932.
- The Philadelphia Story. Dir. George Cukor. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young. MGM, 1940.
- Possession. Dir. Neil LaBute. Perf. Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle. Warner Bros., 2002.
- Racing with the Moon. Dir. Richard Benjamin. Perf. Sean Penn, Elizabeth McGovern, Nicolas Cage. Paramount, 1984.
- Rome Adventure. Dir. Delmer Daves. Perf. Suzanne Pleshette, Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson, Rossano Brazzi. Warner Bros., 1962.
- Somewhere in Time. Dir. Jeannot Szwarc. Perf. Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright. Universal, 1980.
- Strike Up the Band. Dir. Busby Berkley. Perf. Judy Garland, Andy Rooney. MGM, 1940.
- That Touch of Mink. Dir. Delbert Mann. Perf. Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young, Audrey Meadows. Universal-International, 1962.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife. Dir. Robert Schwentke. Perf. Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston. New Line Cinema, 2009.
- Where the Heart Is. Dir. Matt Williams. Perf. Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack, James Frain. 20th Century Fox, 2000.
- Wings of Desire. Dir. Wim Wenders. Perf. Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk. Road Movies Filmproduktion, 1987.