I recently got to thinking, as you do, “Have there been any reel librarians who have died in the line of duty?” So I went back through my archives, and the answer is… YES!
Let’s explore 3 examples, shall we? (Spoiler alerts!)
Mr. Book Man in Ricochet (1991)
In the action thriller Ricochet (1991), lifetime criminal Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow) seeks revenge on the hotshot detective (Denzel Washington) who put him away.
Early in the film, Blake meets “Mr. Book Man,” the prison librarian (Don Perry), in the hospital. While pushing a library cart and delivering books to inmates, Mr. Book Man stops to chat with Blake and tries to cheer him up:
Young fella? Look at you! Lying there like a lump on a log. So what if you’ve made a few mistakes? You can change your life for the better. Don’t you have anything to live for?
Their second meeting years later in a prison parking lot doesn’t go so well. Blake is breaking out of prison and is in disguise as a lawyer. But Mr. Book Man, who has gotten out of his bookmobile, recognizes Blake and calls out:
Hey there, young fella. Do you remember me? The books in the hospital?
His good memory earns him a bullet in the chest. Therefore, this reel librarian in Ricochet (1991) literally did die in the line of duty! 😦
To add insult to injury, Blake then uses the bookmobile as his getaway vehicle! The bookmobile also meets a grisly end. 😦
Read more in my 2012 analysis post, Hey! Mr. Book Man, find a book for me in ‘Ricochet’
The Illiterate Librarian in The Last Supper (1995)
In the black comedy The Last Supper (1995), five grad student roommates find themselves succumbing to murderous temptations when faced with right-wing thinkers at their dinner table.
In one memorable scene, a librarian condemns Catcher in the Rye.
Catcher in the Rye is supposed to be art? Thumbelina is art. Catcher in the Rye is just mean-spirited garbage littered with the “F” word.
That is enough to condemn the librarian… to DEATH. She ends up getting knifed in the back. Ouch!
Pamela Gien plays the ill-fated reel librarian, who is credited as The Illiterate Librarian.
Read more in my 2012 analysis post, Not your typical ‘last supper’.
Wong the Sorcerer Librarian in Doctor Strange (2016)
Forewarned, this one has a twist.
In Doctor Strange (2016), part of the Marvel Comics Universe saga, surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) travels to an Asian monastery in hopes of healing his hands, which were crushed in a terrible car accident. The monastery librarian, Wong (Benedict Wong), is also a Master of the Mystic Arts, and he teaches Strange several important lessons throughout. The film also literally begins and ends in the Kamar-Taj monastery library.
Near the end of the film, right before the final face-off, Wong heads off to defend the Hong Kong sanctum. He leads the other sorcerers in battle, and Wong goes outside to head the villain Kaecilius off before he can enter the Hong Kong sanctum.
We don’t get to see their ensuing fight; instead, by the time Strange arrives on the scene, the Hong Kong sanctum has fallen, and Wong has been defeated, dead in the rubble. His chest has been punctured by a rebar.
But here’s the twist:
Wong get resurrected.
How? Strange knows how to turn back time, so he uses that spell to bring Wong back to life.
Therefore, Wong the Sorcerer Librarian does technically die in the line of duty… but he also lives to fight another day. We get to see him helping to save the day in both Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). (I think it’s fair to say that Wong is one of my very favorite reel librarian characters. ❤ )
Read more in my 2018 analysis post, Sorcerer librarians of ‘Doctor Strange’.
These are just 3 examples, so here is a heartfelt RIP to all the reel librarians who have died in the line of duty.
- Doctor Strange. Dir. Scott Derrickson. Perf. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios, 2016.
- The Last Supper. Dir. Stacy Title. Perf. Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Courtney B. Vance. Columbia, 1995.
- Ricochet. Dir. Russell Mulcahy. Perf. Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak. HBO/Warner Bros., 1991.