The 1944 film Weird Woman, directed by Reginald Le Borg, is a horror story, one whose title character could be either of the two main female characters in the film.
While on an expedition in the South Seas, college professor Norman Reed (Lon Chaney, Jr.) marries Paula (Anne Gwynne), a native woman who continues her superstitious beliefs upon their return to the U.S. His unexpected marriage angers his ex-girlfriend, college librarian Ilona (Evelyn Ankers, who starred in several horror films, including the classic The Wolf Man), who embarks on revenge.
Hell hath no fury… like a librarian scorned!
Ilona is blonde, young, beautiful, and wears striking modern clothing. However, she does not seem like a dedicated librarian because she is never in the library; rather, she is always in her office, which appears as large as or even bigger than the actual library. Of the actual college library, we only get to see a glimpse of bookcases, a ladder, and a dictionary stand.
Her student assistant, Margaret, shelves books, and students always have to open Ilona’s door in order to talk to her. Margaret, obviously intelligent and efficient, displays an eagerness to help. She is a brunette with shoulder-length hair, skirt suit, and no glasses. Ilona, of course, abuses her assistant’s eagerness and stirs up trouble among Margaret, her boyfriend, and Professor Reed.
Ilona is a classic example of a Naughty Librarian who turns to violent and/or criminal manipulation when her love is unrequited or thwarted. She also uses her library’s resources to create more mischief (of course!). She is the (deserving?) recipient of several nasty, unflattering comments, including the following descriptions:
“A jealous old cat”
“There’s something about your smile right now that makes me think of Jack the Ripper”
An interesting note about the film’s 1962 remake: In Burn, Witch Burn! (aka The Night of the Eagle), the librarian character is changed to a female professor. The character’s name is also changed, from Ilona Carr to Flora Carr. The student library assistant’s name, Margaret Mercer, is also changed in the remake, to Margaret Abbott; her occupation, other than that of a student, is unknown in the 1962 version.
- Weird Woman. Dir. Reginald Le Borg. Perf. Lon Chaney, Jr., Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers. Universal, 1944.