Monster librarian?

My mom tipped me off to Monsters University, the sequel to the 2001 film Monsters Inc., possibly including a reel librarian, based on a trailer she had recently seen. And, of course, I had to research it immediately! (That tip-off was soon followed by a similar message from my sister-in-law. I have my family trained, y’all, and on the alert for reel librarians. I’m so proud. 😉 )

The library setting is featured in several short clips in the trailer, including this freeze frame…

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University screenshot

… and these screenshots at 2:04 of what looks to be… a monster librarian! AAAARGHHHH!

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University library scene screenshot

Reel Librarians  |  Monsters University screenshot

I’m planning to see this film on the big screen at a local drive-in (the Newberg 99, check it out!) for a special Independence Day showing, so I should have a “first impressions” post up in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned!


We’ve come a long way, baby?

I thought this Vintage Sexism: Through the Looking Glasses post on the ModCloth blog raised some interesting questions while featuring vintage ads about spectacles and style. One vintage ad equated women wearing glasses to men having scars. Gah!

Image via Tumblr user sadburro

And most interesting of all, in this short piece about bespectacled stereotypes, no mention of librarians. Progress? 😉

A life well advertised

Until this week, I had never before seen this Raymond James commercial (apparently, it first aired in Fall 2010) about the “fastidious librarian Emily Skinner,” who lives life to the fullest, even at 187 years young. After viewing it, I turned to Sam and said, “That’s the Liberated Librarian arc in a commercial!” Raymond James is, of course, posturing itself as her savior — but one could make the argument that it’s Emily herself, right?

I quite enjoyed the ad, and overall, it’s a pretty flattering portrayal of a librarian. Emily, “The Woman Who Lived Longer Than Any Person Who Has Ever Lived,” is obviously intellectually curious (loooove the detail of her dress matching her wallpaper in the shot of hanging up that first diploma) and fun-loving. She pays attention to details but also looks at the big picture with long-term goals. A life well planned, and a life well lived. Go librarians! 🙂

The shush heard ’round the world

Reel Librarians  |  Movie poster for 'The Good Companions' (1933)The Good Companions (1933), adapted from J. B. Priestley‘s novel of the same name, tells a story of three wayward souls finding their way to a variety troupe called the “Dinky Doos” (no, I do not make this stuff up, see below). Thankfully, they change the name straightaway to “The Good Companions,” hence the film’s title. This decidedly minor film, remade in 1957, takes its time setting up the characters and the plot.

The librarian (Hugh E. Wright) shows up for less than a minute, and we never see his face — only the back of his head (see below). His appearance is notable only because it appears to be the first occurrence of a reel librarian uttering, “Shush!” (as determined by Ray & Brenda Tevis in their book, The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917-1999). The Tevises also take note at how the low camera angle — revealing only the back of the librarian’s head — visually de-emphasizes the reel librarian.

The reel librarian is a white male, older, and quite thin. He is wearing a black coat, and his hair is short, grey, and appears to be thinning. We see a glimpse of spectacles as he turns slightly to the side at one point.

The library scene occurs one hour and 17 minutes into the film (the 113-minute UK version, NOT the 95-minute US version). Right before the library scene, the two female leads, Miss Elizabeth Trant (Mary Glynne) and Susie Dean (Jessie Matthews) enjoy a picnic; the older woman laments a long-lost love, and Susie schemes to bring the two former lovers back together. The gentleman in question is a doctor, and the Susie muses that “there’s a medical register at any public library.” Next, we see a shot of Susie looking up the medical register and finds the name she’s seeking and the town where the doctor lives, Dingley. She then asks in a loud voice, “How far’s Dingley?”

Immediately, we hear a “Shush!”, then the camera pans back to reveal the library and the back of the reel librarian, who then answers “20 miles” to her question. Susie, quite unconcerned at her mild reprimand, tosses off a quick thanks. She then brings the big book back to the Circulation desk and asks the librarian what kind of illness would bring a doctor in from 20 miles away. He seems puzzled — who wouldn’t be? — and replies, “Well, I don’t know. Heart attack?” Susie seems quite pleased with his response, thanks him, and leaves. He fulfills the basic Information Provider role, one punctuated by the inaugural and soon-to-be-infamous (and oft-repeated) “Shush!”

We see one wide shot of the library itself, with the reel librarian perched on the edge of the stool at the far right. Anybody else visualizing Ebenezer Scrooge?! The long, wooden Circulation desk spans the bottom part of the frame, and the obligatory card files flank both sides of the librarian — another visual barrier. The left side of the frame reveals a fairly populated reading room, most likely for newspapers and other periodicals, while the larger space to the right is empty except for the girl. Is it just me, or does the library backdrop almost look painted? There are tall stacks of books, and we spy a second floor with more bookshelves, tables, and library lamps; in the close-up, we see thick velvet ropes — yet another visual barrier — curtaining off the tall stacks.

The brief library scene begins 4:25 minutes into the film clip below.

Let’s all go to the lobby

Reel Librarians  |  Lobby cards of 'Desk Set'I was so happy when I came across this set of lobby cards — an old form of advertising — for one of the best all-time librarian films, Desk Set (1957), starring the Grande Dame of reel librarians, Katharine Hepburn. She plays Bunny Watson —  it IS a comedy — the head librarian of a TV network’s research department.

The library set is highlighted in most of the lobby cards (click on each to see a bigger image), which must be rare in movie advertising. And the library in the film IS a glorious set,  a supporting character all by itself. There are stairs on either side leading to a second level, and there are rows and rows of books and several file cabinets. The librarians often go in and out of this private library to answer questions.

In the main area, the assistant librarians’ desks are arranged in an informal U-shape, and Bunny has her own office (with a private elevator!) off to the side. In one of the cards, you can also glimpse a bit of EMERAC, the huge computer installed by efficiency expert Richard Sumner, played by Spencer Tracy. You can also tell how much fun these librarians have, depicted by the lobby card scenes of laughter and partying (they’re at an office Christmas party). And as an extra bonus, one card showcases a bit of Bunny’s apartment — another rarity to witness a librarian’s home life!

And now, just for fun:

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