Favorite reel librarian posts of 2020

Exploring my favorite posts from the past year

Happy New Year! I do hope 2021 will ultimately be better, safer, and healthier than the pandemic dumpster fire year that was 2020! But before launching into the new year, I wanted to take a quick look back at favorite posts from the past year. First, I will highlight the most viewed posts I wrote and published this past year, and then I will go into detail about my own personal favorite posts from this past year. As it turned out, there is some overlap between the two lists (unplanned, because I made my list of my own personal favorite posts first). I hope you enjoy these posts — even if they are only momentary distractions!

Viewer’s choice: Top 5 viewed posts published in 2020

  1. Law librarian failure in ‘Philadelphia’ (1993) (published June 2020)
  2. Spring training and special collections in ‘Major League’ (1989) (published April 2020)
  3. Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films (published March 2020)
  4. A reel librarian returns in ‘Major League II’ (1994) (published May 2020)
  5. 5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles (published July 2020)

Librarian’s choice: Top 5 personal favorite posts published in 2020

For my own personal favorite posts I wrote and published this past year, I will list the posts in chronological order.

From March 2020: Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films

This post was fun to put together, and the idea for it germinated from updating my Genres & Themes page and thinking about additional genres I could highlight. There are so many reel librarians and archivists in sci-fi films, it was actually kind of hard to narrow down to just 16 for this post! I also enjoyed that it’s a “listmaking” post that goes a bit deeper, in that after I narrowed down the list, I noted three major trends of the reel librarian roles in these sci-fi films: HeroesHelpers, and Hindrances.

Read the post: Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Doctor Strange' (2016)
A closeup of reel librarian and sorcerer Wong from ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)

From April 2020: Spring training and special collections in ‘Major League’ (1989)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Major League — and it appears that many of you do, too! In particular, I’ve also always had a soft spot for Rene Russo’s portrayal as Lynn, a reel librarian, and how she proudly states, “In two years I put together one of the best special collection departments in the country.

As I remember it, this post took me quite a while to put together, particularly figuring out how to structure it, since Lynn is a major character throughout the film. I ended up using a baseball-themed series of headings, starting off with “First base” and ending up with a “Home run.” Cheesy? YES! That’s how I roll here on this Reel Librarians blog. 😉

Read the post: Spring training and special collections in ‘Major League’ (1989)

Tom Berenger and Rene Russo have a showdown in her library, in a scene from Major League
Tom Berenger and Rene Russo have a showdown in her library, in a scene from Major League (1989)

From July 2020: 5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles

I put this post together in the midst of this past summer of racial reckoning, after I had participated (with a face mask on, of course) in a regional “Educators for Black Lives Matter” protest and march. I kept thinking about what I, a White woman and librarian, could do in my own little sphere of the interwebs, to highlight that Black Lives Matter and that Black representation of librarianship on screen matters. It’s only one post, I know, but after recently re-reading it, it’s a post that has helped inspire me to do more in the coming year to highlight on this blog more reel librarians of color. I will go into much more detail about this in my next post!

Read the post: 5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles

Men of Honor Because They Said I Couldn’t Have It” video, uploaded by Jonathan F., Standard YouTube License

From August 2020: ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ librarian

This post just made me laugh putting it together! I mean, how could you NOT laugh when you’ve got a deadpan reel librarian spouting lines like:

Didn’t even get to keep my damn tiara.”

“Lutefisk is codfish that’s been salted and soaked in lye for a week or so.It’s best with lots of butter.

I often mix it up here on the blog, sprinkling in some lighter posts amidst the longer and more analytical posts. This post is a good example of the former.

Read the post: ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ librarian

Reel librarian from 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' (1999)
Reel librarian from ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ (1999)

From December 2020: Comparing library scenes between the original book and movie version of ‘The Da Vinci Code’

This post is one that I didn’t plan, and had not been thinking about at all. In fact, I had forgotten completely about the library research scene in this movie. Rewatching the movie reminded me of the library research scene in the book, and thus, an idea for this post was born. Some posts I plan and work on for ages, while others come spur-of-the-moment. This post is definitely a good example of the latter!

I think I enjoyed re-reading this post because I felt that my snarky sense of humor comes through in the end result. Did I chuckle at how many times I was able to slip in variations of the word “mansplaining” into the post? OF COURSE. 😉

Read the post: Comparing library scenes between the original book and movie version of ‘The Da Vinci Code’

Screenshot from 'The Da Vinci Code' (2006)
Mansplainer alert!

Did you have any personal favorite posts from this past year? Please share!

Sources used

Binge-read the 10 most popular Reel Librarians posts of all time

And by “all time,” I mean since 2011 when this site began!

As we are all probably feeling anxious and stressed during this global coronavirus pandemic, how about taking a break from binge-watching movies and TV series in order to binge-read about reel librarians? I looked through my site stats to find out the top 10 most-read and popular posts of all time. Below, I have listed them in reverse order, from #10 to #1, along with the first paragraph of each post, to whet your appetite.

Enjoy! 🙂

#10. ‘You, Me and Dupree’ — and the Naughty Librarian (Aug. 2015)

“You fixed Dupree up with a Mormon librarian?”

The 2006 film You, Me, and Dupree (2006) is an odd one. It stars Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Matt Dillon, and it’s directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who also executive-produced the TV comedy, Community. You’d think those are ingredients for a potentially amusing film. But overall, those ingredients never really come together, and the half-baked film ends up feeling much longer than its 108 minutes. …

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)
Do the Dewey! bumper sticker on the reel librarian’s car

… continue reading ‘You, Me and Dupree’ — and the Naughty Librarian

#9. Harry Potter and Madam Pince (Dec. 2012)

How the Hogwarts librarian is depicted in the Harry Potter books

I recently reread the Harry Potter series, and this time around, took note of how the librarian, Madam Pince, is depicted. This librarian is never mentioned by name in the films as such, but she does make a physical appearance in the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). As portrayed by Sally Mortemore, the reel Madam Pince — her first name, Irma, is also revealed in that film’s credits — is physically more attractive than her counterpart in print. …

… continue reading Harry Potter and Madam Pince

#8. Books and book-burning in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (May 2017)

“Is there not freedom in the very choice of which book you want to be?”

I recently rewatched the 1966 film version of Fahrenheit 451, directed by French New Wave director Francois Truffaut and starring Julie Christie in a dual role and Oscar Werner as Montag, the fireman who falls in love with books, the very thing he’s charged with burning. …

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)
Oscar Werner as Montag

… continue reading Books and book-burning in ‘Fahrenheit 451’

#7. First impressions: Monsters University (July 2013)

“What are you afraid of? You just angered a 40-foot librarian!”

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how two members of my family had tipped me off to a reel librarian featured in the recent release, Monsters University (2013). Since that post went live, I have had five additional friends recommend I watch the movie, which I did over the Independence Day long weekend. …

… continue reading First impressions: ‘Monsters University’

#6. The Jedi librarian (March 2013)

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.”

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I watched the fan edit of the Star War prequel trilogy, entitled Star Wars:  Rise of the Empire, which was compiled back in 2007. Out of the 7+ hours of the original prequels (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005), this techie fan managed to whittle the story down to a still-healthy-yet-manageable 4 hours. It seemed like a majority of the second prequel, Attack of the Clones, stayed on the cutting-room floor (no more painful love scenes out on the lake by Naboo, thank goodness!), but guess which scene made the cut in its entirety? …

Jedi librarian glare in Star Wars Episode II
Jedi librarian glare in Star Wars Episode II

… continue reading The Jedi librarian

#5. First impressions: ‘Hidden Figures’ and its library scene (Feb. 2017)

The reel librarian character echoes the barriers that were starting to crack, brick by brick and book by book.

I recently watched the Best Picture-nominated film Hidden Figures, which is a biographical film featuring three African-American female mathematicians — or “computers” — at NASA during the early 1960s. The film sheds lights on their individual and collective struggles to earn personal and professional respect, both as women and as African-Americans in a field dominated with white males. The three female leads all deliver top-notch performances: Taraji P. Henson as brilliant mathematician Katherine G. Johnson; Octavia Spencer in an Oscar-nominated performance as mathematician and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan; and Janelle Monáe as firecracker engineer Mary Jackson. …

… continue reading First impressions: ‘Hidden Figures’ and its library scene

#4. Librarian t-shirt collection (Sept. 2014)

“I have secret powers… I’m a librarian!”

I was going through some of the archived posts here on this Reel Librarians blog, and I came across this early post about my “Marian the Librarian” coffee mug. And then two things clicked: …

Reel Librarians | Librarian t-shirt collection
Librarian-themed t-shirts from my personal collection

… continue reading Librarian t-shirt collection

#3. Marian or Marion? (May 2012)

Researching the reel librarian in ‘The Music Man’

I am a stickler for spelling and punctuation (see my post last week on that anal-retentive trait), so it still bugs me that I can’t ever seem to remember if the librarian in The Music Man is spelled “Marian” or “Marion.” I spelled it BOTH ways in my undergraduate thesis, which still makes me cringe. And that’s probably what inspired this blog post — maybe after writing this, I won’t have to look it up again. 😉 …

… continue reading Marian or Marion?

#2. Naughty Librarians (ladies, take it away) (March 2012)

Exploring the female Naughty Librarian character type

A rose by any other name… the Naughty Librarian. We’re down to the final category of exploring reel librarian character types (see previous posts hereherehereherehereherehere and here). And I know I’m going to get a lot of hits out of this post, as “naughty librarian” — and similar phrases like “sexy librarian” or “tomcats librarian” —  are the MOST POPULAR search terms that lead to my blog. It’s a classy joint I’m running here, this Reel Librarians blog. …

… continue reading Naughty Librarians (ladies, take it away)

#1. ‘The Killing Kind’ vs. ‘The Attic’ (Oct. 2013)

The Attic (1980) serves as a kind of cinematic continuation of two characters featured in The Killing Kind (1973)

As I mentioned in last week’s postThe Attic (1980) serves as a kind of cinematic continuation of two characters featured in The Killing Kind (1973). I have a copy of both films, so I set about watching The Killing Kind this past weekend and comparing the two. There are some eery similarities in both films, but some interesting differences, as well. Enjoy! …

Reel Librarians | 'The Attic' screenshot
Librarian hallucinations in The Attic

… continue reading ‘The Killing Kind’ vs. ‘The Attic’

Any personal faves?

Any personal favorites among these Top 10? Please leave a comment and share! And please continue washing your hands and practicing social distancing. Be well, everyone!

3 reel librarians who have died in the line of duty

Spoiler alerts!

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! 😦

Reel librarian offers a book in Ricochet
Is the pen mightier than the sword in this scenario?

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!

The Illiterate Librarian in The Last Supper (1995) gets knifed in the back
That’s gotta hurt

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.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Doctor Strange' (2016)
Reel librarian death

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.

WHEW.

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.

Sources used

  • 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.

Revisiting posts from the first month of ‘Reel Librarians’

I thought it would be fun to take a brief sojourn down memory lane and revisit posts that I published back in September 2011, the first month that I launched Reel Librarians.

As my 8th blog anniversary occurred in-between my regular posting schedule, I thought a blog-iversary two-fer was in order. I published my first post on Reel Librarians back on September 19th, 2011. When I started this website and blog, I was regularly writing and publishing 3 new posts a week (!!!), but I was also working part-time back then. Fast forward 8 years, and I am now a full-time, tenured faculty librarian, and I’ve scaled back to 2 new posts a month.

I thought it would be fun to take a brief sojourn down memory lane and revisit posts that I published back in September 2011, the first month that I launched Reel Librarians. Note, I didn’t publish my first post until September 19th, the third week of September. But in the 12 remaining days of September 2011, I published 6 (!!!!!!) new posts.

Below are first paragraph excerpts from each of those first 6 posts, with links to the full posts so you can explore each one. Enjoy!

Where do I begin? A love story. (Sept. 19, 2011)

Welcome to my new site about librarians in film! For me, librarians + movies = love! Technically, this site is a new (and hopefully more permanent) incarnation of my previous “Reel Librarians” site, which I had developed off a previous work site and server. But the site’s back now – hopefully, better than ever. Please check back often or sign up for RSS or email updates.Welcome to my new site about librarians in film!

Click here to continue reading the rest of this post in a new window.

‘It’s a wonderful’… stereotype? (Sept. 21, 2011)

It’s a wonderful movie, truly. It’s a Wonderful Life. One of my personal favorites, actually. And a personal favorite for many, especially as a TV staple at Christmas, thanks to its lapsed copyright in 1974 (although that was successfully challenged in 1993). The director, Frank Capra, is in top form, as is James Stewart, who displays devastating depth as George Bailey, an ordinary man who aches to be extraordinary. Both deservedly earned Oscar nominations, out of 5 total, including Best Picture.

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Reel librarian firsts (Sept. 23, 2011)

1912: The Librarian, first film to feature a librarian

Click here to continue reading the rest of this post in a new window.

It’s an ‘adventure’! (Sept. 26, 2011)

In Rome Adventure (1962), Suzanne Pleshette plays Prudence Bell, an assistant librarian at the Briarcroft College for Women. The first scene sets the stage:  Prudence lands in trouble for letting a young girl read Lovers Must Learn, a book considered “too adult” for this school. The board has banned the book (this also serves as a clever advertisement for the real book, which the film was based on, and its author, Irving Fineman, who is name-dropped in the first five minutes) and reprimands Prudence in the process. Prudence, however, stands up to them and defies their rules. She delivers a speech about the importance of love — what’s hiding in every girl’s heart, that need to be loved — and quits the library to follow the book’s advice. She says, “This is Independence Day!” We are on her side for standing up to the board — and, in effect, standing up against censorship. [Plus, this week is the annual Banned Books Week, so this post is right on target!]

Click here to continue reading the rest of this post in a new window.

Mistaken identity in ‘Spellbound’ (Sept. 28, 2011)

How should a woman react when she is mistaken for a Spinster Librarian? To her credit, Dr. Constance Petersen, played by the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, takes it in good humor. The moment does inject a bit of comedy (although at the expense of librarians!) in the otherwise suspenseful and dramatic film, Spellbound (1945).

Click here to continue reading the rest of this post in a new window.

The ‘Year of the Librarian’ continues (Sept. 30, 2011)

Since the 1970s, the study of “popular culture” has increased in academic relevance, but I believe the image of librarians in media really began to be looked at as a serious topic of research after 1989. That was when ALA declared it the “Year of the Librarian” in its January 1989 issue of American Libraries. The article, below, and theme focused on the media image of librarians and “public awareness efforts on the library professional for the first time.”

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Stay tuned for thriller-themed posts in October!

Reel librarian Mr. Stringer returns in ‘The Alphabet Murders’ (1965)

“Of course, we would have no idea that Mr. Stringer is a reel librarian character if we were not already familiar with MGM’s Miss Marple movies.”

In contrast to this month’s earlier post, a marathon post delving into Mr. Stringer’s village librarian role in MGM’s 1960s Miss Marple movie series, this week’s post is short and sweet.

Stringer Davis and Margaret Rutherford, who were married in real life, reprised their roles as Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple in a joint cameo appearance in the 1965 comedy The Alphabet Murders. The film was based on Agatha Christie’s 1936 novel The ABC Murders.

Interesting casting choices abound in this film:

  • Tony Randall, an American actor, played the role of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (!)
  • The very first actor to portray Poirot onscreen, Austin Trevor, played a cameo role in the film; this was also Trevor’s final film.
  • Robert Morley plays Hastings in the film, and Morley also starred alongside Margaret Rutherford in the second of the Miss Marple films, Murder at the Gallop (1963)!

The cameo scene with Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple lasts a total of 30 seconds. Poirot and Hastings descend a building’s front steps when Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple, in the middle of a conversation about the ABC murders, walk along the sidewalk and up the same stairs.

Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple make a cameo appearance in The Alphabet Murders (1965)
Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple make a cameo appearance in The Alphabet Murders (1965)

Miss Marple: I cannot see why they’re having such difficulty. The whole thing is very clear, Mr. Stringer.

Mr. Stringer: I quite agree, Miss Marple.

Miss Marple: The solution is ABC to anyone with half a brain cell.

Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple make a cameo appearance in The Alphabet Murders (1965)
Mr. Stringer and Miss Marple make a cameo appearance in The Alphabet Murders (1965)

During this brief scene, we hear strings of the distinctive theme song from the Miss Marple movies, another inside reference!

Remember, this film was released in 1965, one year after the final Miss Marple film, Murder Ahoy! (1964). The IMDb.com Trivia page for Murder Most Foul (1964) reveals there had been rumors about making a fifth Miss Marple film, possibly one based on Christie’s 1942 novel The Body in the Library, but this never came to pass. But perhaps their cameo in this film was a way to extend potential interest in continuing the series?

I find it extremely interesting that the screenwriters took care for each character to say each other’s names — Miss Marple, Mr. Stringer — so that the audience could be “in on the joke” for their cameo roles. However, the two actors were not included in the film’s credits.

Of course, we would have no idea that Mr. Stringer is a reel librarian character if we were not already familiar with MGM’s Miss Marple movies, Murder, She Said (1961), Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Most Foul (1964), and Murder Ahoy! (1964). Although the name “Miss Marple” is recognizable on its own, being one of Agatha Christie’s iconic recurring characters, Mr. Stringer’s name would not be. At his wife’s insistence, his role as the village librarian sidekick was created just for MGM’s Miss Marple movies.

Due to the very brief time onscreen in The Alphabet Murders (1965), Mr. Stringer’s reel librarian role in this film gets downgraded to the Class IV category, films in which librarian(s) plays a cameo role and is seen only briefly with little or no dialogue. He serves as Comic Relief in this comedy.

Last but not least, here’s a YouTube video of Mr. Stringer’s cameo and final screen appearance of his memorable reel librarian character:

“Hercule Poirot Meets Miss. Jane Marple” video uploaded by
docwho97
, standard YouTube license

Sources used