Research and high school library scenes in ‘Dangerous Minds’

“This movie may be called Dangerous Minds, but it seems to me that the librarians have Suspicious Minds!”

Because we’re (still) living in coronavirus times, a lot of us — at least here in the United States — are not going back to school in the usual way (e.g., I’m teaching and working remotely from home again this fall). But we can still experience that back-to-school feeling by proxy, via the medium of film! Therefore, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the 1995 movie, Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as Louanne Johnson, a retired U.S. Marine and White woman who becomes a teacher in an impoverished, inner-city school and teaches poetry and literature to high schoolers, many of whom are Black and Latino students. The movie is based on Johnson’s real-life teaching experiences, as detailed in her 1992 memoir My Posse Don’t Do Homework.

Below is a trailer for the film, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen it… and an opportunity to get Coolio’s hit song, Gangsta’s Paradise, stuck again in your head. You’re welcome. 🙂

“Dangerous Minds 1995 Trailer | Michelle Pfeiffer” video uploaded by Trailer Chan, Standard YouTube License

Teacher research

I like that in introducing Louanne Johnson’s character, the director John N. Smith took time to show us Johnson’s work ethic. Yes, we know she’s a former Marine, but it’s nice to actually see her apply that discipline and work ethic to her new chosen profession. And one way they highlight this in the film is to show Johnson researching teaching and classroom management strategies.

The visible titles include:

  • Assertive Discipline for Parents: A Proven, Step-by-Step Approach to Solving Everyday Behavior Problems (Revised edition) by Lee Canter and Marlene Canter
  • “Disciplining the Adolescent” article reprinted from Teacher’s Quarterly

OF COURSE you know I looked both of these titles up, and yep, it looks like they’re both legit! The book was originally published in 1985, and the revised edition was published in 1993. The periodical is most likely the California Teacher’s Quarterly, which has been published since 1907.

High school library setting and scene

Almost an hour into the movie, Johnson introduces a “Dylan Dylan” poetry contest in class. The goal is to find a Dylan Thomas poem that’s like a Bob Dylan poem/song and write about how they connect.

Next stop? You guessed it — the high school library!

This school library scene lasts only one minute long, but we get to see the typical school library setting, with bookcases, wood tables and chairs, and lots and lots of posters. The camera pans around to showcase students in groups at different tables in the school library. According to the filming locations listed on the film’s IMDB.com entry, this scene was filmed at San Mateo High School in San Mateo, California.

Suspicious minds

Although it feels novel — to Johnson and to her fellow teacher mentor, played by George Dzunda — that she got her students to go to the school library, the students already seem pretty comfortable in the space and confident about how to start researching. (Suspension of disbelief? Discuss.) As you can see in one of the photos above, I like the detail of one student, a young Black man in a grey hoodie, is holding a slip of paper in his hands (on which I assume is a call number) as he walks around the bookcases.

The student has clearly been successful at finding the book he was looking for — yay! — but the librarians at the high school library do not seem so impressed, however.

Rather, they are giving MAJOR side-eye to this student as he passes them seated side-by-side at the front desk. He doesn’t so much as glance at the school librarians, but the camera focuses, albeit briefly, on the two librarians, one Black woman and one White woman. This movie may be called Dangerous Minds, but it seems to me that the librarians have Suspicious Minds! Perhaps you could argue that they seem surprised, rather than suspicious? I looked up my past notes, and I initially wrote down the word “surprised,” but after this second viewing, I think the more apt descriptor is “suspicious.” Either way, it’s clear these two school librarians have no interest in getting up and helping any of the students. 😦

A librarian by any other name?

I also thought it interesting that although there are two school librarians, there is only ONE nameplate on the desk, which reads “Toni Devereaux, Librarian.” You can see this nameplate more clearly in the image below.

But which one is Toni Devereaux? There is no such name included in the cast list. Jeff Feringa is listed as Librarian #1 (she is seated on the right in the photo above, dressed in the floral dress and lace collar), and Sarah Marshall is listed as Librarian #2 (she is seated on the left in the photo above, in a green cardigan). Is Toni supposed to be Librarian #1, as Feringa is listed first in the credits? It remains unclear. Also, why are there two librarians at this school, when it seems clear that neither one is interested in helping the students?

What role do these reel librarians serve in this movie? Although neither librarian actually helps any of the students, I would argue they still both fulfill the role of Information Provider. They do help establish the setting of the high school library; in fact, you could argue they function more like props! But more than that, I would argue their suspicious glances are also reflective of a larger issue, a societal under-appreciation and distrust of these students and their abilities. While I appreciate the racial diversity of these school librarians — please also see this post highlighting 5 movies that feature Black reel librarians — their suspicious attitudes and seemingly purposeful inaction leave me disappointed. Ultimately, their cameo appearances land this movie in the Class IV category.

Sources used

10 teen comedies with reel librarians

In my previous post, I highlighted the reel librarian’s cameo scenes in the 1999 teen comedy — a pitch-dark comedy! — Drop Dead Gorgeous. That got me to thinking about how many teen comedies feature scenes with school libraries and reel librarians. Let’s round up 10 examples, shall we? The movies below are listed in chronological order by year of release, starting in the 1980s.

The Last American Virgin (1982)

This Class III movie is a quintessential ’80s flick, about teenage boys seeking every opportunity to have sex. When we first watched this movie, my husband cheekily asked, “Is the librarian the title character?” No, she is not, y’all! The movie includes a brief — but memorable — fight in the school library. The school librarian, an older White woman with glasses, is shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED that fisticuffs fly in the school library! Her facial reactions are priceless.

Reel librarian facial expression in The Last American Virgin
Reel librarian’s facial expression in The Last American Virgin

Related post: ‘The Last American Virgin’ librarian

My Science Project (1985)

In this Class II film and action/adventure comedy, young student Michael (John Stockwell) is in search of a science project. He then breaks into a military base and finds a strange glowing orb, as you do. The orb wreaks havoc when it turns the school into a battlefield of the past, present, and future — because OF COURSE — and Michael and his friends must find a way to stop it. Michael goes to the library to find out information on time travel, and he gets help from Sherman (Raphael Sbarge), the school nerd and know-it-all who works in the school library.

“My Science Project (1985) Original Trailer” video, uploaded by Jason Hawk, Standard YouTube License

Pretty in Pink (1986)

This teen classic is part comedy, part drama, and part love triangle. Another classic ’80s movie — and fashion! Andie (Molly Ringwald) likes Blane (Andrew McCarthy) while her best friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer), pines for Andie. There is a brief scene in the school library, in which Blane flirts with Andie via the school library’s computers. You can catch a brief glimpse of a school librarian in the scene, landing this teen comedy in the Class IV category of reel librarian films.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)
A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of a school librarian in Pretty in Pink

Related post: The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’

Summer School (1987) 

This Class IV film features Mark Harmon as gym teacher Freddy Shoop, who gets stuck teaching remedial English in summer school. On the second day of summer school, he takes the students to the library to work on book reports. You can juuuuuuust spy the back of the school librarian in the scene. It’s easy to miss her and her hair bow amidst all the hand-lettered signs in the library! 😉

The back of the school librarian can be seen right below a "Please Return Books Here" sign in the school library
The back of the school librarian can be seen right below a “Please Return Books Here” sign in the school library

Related post‘Summer school’ in the library

Pump Up the Volume (1992)

In this high school dramedy, and Class II film, new high school student Mark (Christian Slater) uses a short-wave radio to broadcast as pirate DJ Hard Harry, incurring the wrath of the principal. Student library assistant Nora (Samantha Mathis) investigates the DJ’s identity and finds out about Mark via the book he checks out at the school library. She impresses Mark, who calls her “fearless.” They have a super cute “Meet Cute” moment in the school library.

“Classic Girl – Samantha Mathis – Jane’s Addiction – Pump Up The Volume – 1990 – Allan Moyle” video, uploaded by Fred Fromberg, Standard YouTube License

High School High (1996)

In this Class IV film — a parody of films like Dangerous Minds — a naïve teacher (Jon Lovitz) gets a job at an urban high school. After he makes a would-be inspirational speech at the school assembly, the school librarian in the crowd yells out, “You suck!” A proud, inspiring moment for all librarians. 😉

“High School High 1996 Trailer | Jon Lovitz | Tia Carrere” video, uploaded by Trailer Chan, Standard YouTube License

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

This Class IV comedy focuses on teen girls (and their mothers) competing in a local beauty pageant. The plot includes murder, a huge swan float engulfed in flames, beauty pageant contestants upchucking contaminated seafood, and more! There are a couple of memorable closeups with an older librarian, who recalls her past as the beauty pageant winner in 1945.

The beauty pageant winner... turned local librarian.
The beauty pageant winner… turned local librarian.

Related post: ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ librarian

The New Guy (2002)

In this Class III film, Dizzy (DJ Qualls) tries to restart the year at another school as the cool “new guy.” Why? Because he was humiliated at his old high school when a group of jocks pulled his underpants over his head and pushed him toward the school librarian. It is certainly a, uh, memorable opening scene!

The school librarian in The New Guy reaches out... but not in a good way!
The school librarian in The New Guy reaches out… but not in a good way!

Related posts:  The hand that rocks the school in ‘The New Guy’ ; Behind the blog: What goes into a film analysis post

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

In this Netflix teen comedy and romance, teen Lara Jean (Lana Condor) has to deal with the romantic complications that ensue after her secret love letters are exposed. There is a brief school library scene early in the film, in which Lara Jean breaks the silence rule (she eats a carrot). However, it’s not the reel librarian who enforces the silence rule — her fellow students take care of that! We do see a glimpse of the school librarian as Lara Jean enters the school library, placing this sweet teen flick in the Class IV category of reel librarian films.

Screenshot from 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' (2018)
Lara Jean greets the school librarian at her high school

Related post: School library scene in ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’

Booksmart (2019)

In this whip-smart teen comedy directed by Olivia Wilde, two high school seniors and best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) put down their books and let loose en route to graduation parties. OF COURSE they use a library to try and track down one party’s location. And OF COURSE they enjoy a fist-bump greeting with the librarian. This movie is so much fun!

“BOOKSMART Trailer (2019) Lisa Kudrow, Olivia Wild, Teen Movie” video, uploaded by Movie Trailers Source, Standard YouTube License

Sources used

  • Booksmart. Dir. Olivia Wilde. Perf. Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Billie Lourd, Jessica Williams. Annapurna Pictures, 2019.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous. Dir. Michael Patrick Jann. Perf. Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney. New Line Cinema, 1999.
  • High School High. Dir. Hart Bochner. Perf. Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Louise Fletcher, Mekhi Phifer. TriStar, 1996.
  • The Last American Virgin. Dir. Boaz Davidson. Perf. Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin, Steve Antin. Golan-Globus Productions, 1982.
  • My Science Project. Dir. Jonathan R. Betuel. Perf. John Stockwell, Danielle von Zerneck, Fisher Stevens, and Raphael Sbarge. Touchstone, 1985.
  • The New Guy. Dir. Peter MacDonald. Perf. DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel. Bedlam Pictures, 2002.
  • Pretty in Pink. Dir. Howard Deutch. Written by John Hughes. Perf. Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts. Paramount, 1986.
  • Pump Up the Volume. Dir. Allan Moyle. Perf. Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Jeff Chamberlain. New Line Cinema, 1990.
  • Summer School. Dir. Carl Reiner. Perf. Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, Courtney Thorne-Smith. Paramount, 1987.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Dir. Susan Johnson. Perf. Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, John Corbett. Netflix, 2018.

5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles

As I wrote in my post “What Hollywood Gets Wrong (and Right!) about Librarians” on the I Love Libraries blog, portrayals of librarians in film are becoming more ethnically diverse. Of course, we still have a long way to go, both on and off screen, as we put in the work to diversify our profession. Here are 5 movies that feature Black reel librarians in major roles.

The movies are arranged below in alphabetical order by title.

Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

This Class III film is an engrossing prison break film featuring the most famous prison of them all, Alcatraz.

Paul Benjamin plays English, a taciturn and well-respected Black inmate who is also the prison librarian. He teaches Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) how to survive in Alcatraz. In one scene, English saves Frank from getting beaten up by another inmate. English also reveals that he is serving two life sentences for killing two White men in self-defense.

Below is a video of a scene from the movie, featuring Paul Benjamin as English.

Escape from Alcatraz (1979) King of the Mountain | Movie Scene HD” video, uploaded by Bynnel, Standard YouTube License

Related posts: Reel Substance: A look at Classes III and IV ; A librarian ‘within the law’

It, aka Stephen King’s It (1990, TV miniseries)

In this Class I TV miniseries based on Stephen King’s book, a group of friends who name themselves the Losers’ Club defeat a demonic clown creature, Pennywise (Tim Curry). Thirty years later, they have to face “It” once more.

Tim Reid plays Mike Hanlon, the only Black member of the Losers’ Club. He stays behind in the town and becomes the town librarian and “answer man.” Mike contacts the friends to return to the town and sets the entire plot of the second half in motion. Mike is the true hero of the story.

Marlon Taylor plays the younger version of Mike in the miniseries.

Below is a video montage of Mike’s and Bill’s friendship.

Stephen King’s It 1990. Bill Denbrough and Mike Hanlon” video uploaded by Gunnar Andersson, Standard YouTube License.

Related posts: Scary clowns + reel librarians

It: Chapter Two (2019)

In this Class I film and movie remake, Isaiah Mustafa subtly shines in his version of the town librarian hero Mike Hanlon. Mike’s narration begins the film, he calls all the friends back to town, and he figures out how to beat “It.” He grounds the story, beginning, middle, and end. This film includes lines and scenes that highlight Mike’s backstory, agency, and experiences as a Black man, as well as the long-lasting effects of racism and “white flight” in the town.

Chosen Jacobs plays the younger version of Mike in this film, seen in flashbacks, and in its prequel, the 2017 film It: Chapter One. (Unfortunately, in the first film, Mike’s backstory is given short shrift, and young Ben, the White new kid in town, takes over the role as researcher.)

The video below is an interview with Isaiah Mustafa about his role as Mike:

IT Chapter Two: Isaiah Mustafa Opens Up About His Role in the Scary Sequel” by ET Live, Standard YouTube License

Related posts: First impressions: ‘It’ (2017) and its library scene ; First impressions: ‘It: Chapter Two’ (2019) and the town librarian hero

Men of Honor (2000)

This Class II film is based on the true story of the first Black American Navy diver, Carl Brashear (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.).

Carl goes to the local library for tutoring assistance, and a library assistant, Jo (played by Aunjanue Ellis) decides to help him. She also reveals that she has the goal of getting into medical school. The character of Jo is a bright spot in this film, and Ellis plays her role with wit, confidence, and a wry sense of humor.

Demene E. Hall plays Mrs. Biddle, the director of the library — and although we only see her briefly, it’s important to see a Black woman in a library position of authority and leadership.

Here is a brief clip from one of the movie’s library scenes, featuring the character of Jo:

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

Related posts: Reel Substance: A look at Classes I and II ; Notable additional occupations for reel librarians

The Time Machine (2002)

In this Class III film, a disillusioned inventor (Guy Pearce) builds a time machine and travels 800,000 years into the future.

Orlando Jones plays the memorable and indelible character of Vox, a holographic librarian, and he supplies information about time travel and the history and evolution of the planet and its population. Vox is the heart and soul of this film, literally “the compendium of all human knowledge.”

The video below introduces us to the character of Vox.

Time Machine(2002) Vox System” video, uploaded by Stamatios Giannoulakis, Standard YouTube License

Related posts: Stylish male reel librarians

Sources used:

  • Escape from Alcatraz. Dir. Don Siegel. Perf. Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Larry Hankin, Paul Benjamin. Paramount, 1979. Based on the book by J. Campbell Bruce.
  • It, aka Stephen King’s It. Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace. Perf. John Ritter, Harry Anderson, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, Tim Curry. Warner Bros., 1990. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
  • It: Chapter Two. Dir. Andy Muschietti. Perf. Isaiah Mustafa, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgaard. New Line Cinema, 2019. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
  • Men of Honor. Dir. George Tillman Jr. Perf. Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Charlize Theron, Aunjanue Ellis, Hal Holbrook. 20th Century Fox, 2000.
  • Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “What Hollywood Gets Wrong (and Right!) About Librarians.” I Love Libraries, 26 May 2020.
  • The Time Machine. Dir. Simon Wells. Perf. Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Orlando Jones. Warner Bros., 2002. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells.

Library research montage in 'The Manchurian Candidate' (2004) remake

“I got my library card… I do my research, too.”

As many of us are still self-isolating and sheltering in place because of the coronavirus — we’re all still washing our hands and practicing social distancing, yes?! — and most likely still seeking out things to watch via various streaming services, I thought it appropriate to only write about movies that are available via a streaming service (at least at the time of my publishing the post). This week, I’m analyzing the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which is available via Amazon Prime’s HBO channel.

The original The Manchurian Candidate film, released in 1962 and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Angela Lansbury, is a classic. The remake? Not so much. Not even great actors like Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright, and Meryl Streep can lift this remake into anything more than a competent thriller. But there is one thing the 2004 remake has that the original film does not… a reel librarian! 😉

Denzel Washington plays the role that Frank Sinatra played in the original, Major Ben Marco, who knows something is rotten in the state of Denmark the United States.

Getting into the public library

At 1 hour and 20 minutes into the 130-minute film, Marco goes to a public library to investigate the Manchurian Global corporation. At first, it looks like he has wandered into a science museum, as the lobby is filled with scientific posters and genome models. Turns out, it’s the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SBIL) branch!

Lobby of the NYPL's Science, Industry and Business Library
Lobby of the NYPL’s Science, Industry and Business Library

Marco then poses for a picture for a library visitor pass. We then get treated to a closeup of the library employee, a younger black woman, handling the visitor passes.

Library Clerk role in The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Smile! You’re on candid camera!

Duana Butler plays the “Library Clerk” role, and she gets two lines in this cameo role:

Smile if you like. This will just take a minute.

As we see in the closeup of Marco’s library visitor pass below, he did NOT feel like smiling on this trip to the library. (You can just make out “The New York Public Library” text above his photograph on the visitor pass.)

Visitor pass to the NYPL

It turns out that this is the only reel librarian we will see in this library scene… before Marco even sets foot into the library!

I thought it interesting to highlight a reel librarian outside the actual library. Is this an interesting, albeit brief, take on the “librarian as gatekeeper” role? Is the director purposely mirroring the expressionless face of the Library Clerk with the equally expressionless face of Marco on his visitor badge? Is it possible I’m overthinking this reel librarian cameo role? 😉

Cue the research montage

Although we never again see a librarian, we do get treated to Marco conducting research via several different library resources and services, including:

  • a microfilm machine
  • a copy machine
  • headphones to listen to Rosie’s tapes
  • a computer to conduct a Google search on the internet

We also get a closeup of the mousepad, which officially reveals that Marco is at the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) branch.

I also visited SIBL’s website, which highlights their amenities, including computers for public use, photocopiers, and scanners/reading machines. Marco definitely got the most out of this library!

Closeup of the NYPL Science, Industry and Business Library mousepad

Although libraries are generally seen as safe spaces — in real AND reel life — I thought it interesting to note that the director, Jonathan Demme, chose to highlight the library’s security cameras. The black-and-white shot below is mimicking the security camera’s feed. The message seems to be that no place is safe, NOT EVEN the public library!

Security camera feed in the NYPL
Someone is always watching… even in a public library!

Purpose of library scene

This library scene lasts 4 minutes total, and the primary purpose of the scene is to propel the plot forward, as Marco then acts on the clues and information he discovered during his research.

Although the only thing the reel librarian did was issue a library visitor pass, she did help establish the library setting. Therefore, she fulfilled the basic Information Provider role in this Class IV film.

About 10 minutes later, Marco confronts Rosie with what he found out at the library.

I got my library card, and I got your tapes. I do my research, too.

Have you done YOUR research?! 😉

Sources used

Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films

With the growing spread of the COVID-19 virus — please keep up-to-date via the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention page — it feels like we are living in a sci-fi, dystopian alternate reality right now, doesn’t it? (Stay safe out there, y’all, and let’s all keep washing our hands!) So it felt fitting to explore the role of reel librarians and archivists in 16 different science fiction films. Shall we?

Images, clockwise from top left: Jocasta Nu in Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002); Wong in Doctor Strange (2016), The Books in Soylent Green (1973); Vox in The Time Machine (2002)

I put this list together after reviewing my Master List as well as the Reel Substance lists on this site. I then noted three major trends of the reel librarian roles in these sci-fi films; generally, they serve as Heroes, Helpers, or Hindrances. Within each of these sub-categories below, the films are arranged in descending chronological order (oldest to newest).

Heroes || Helpers || Hindrances

Let’s explore!


Heroes


Reel librarians in this sci-fi sub-category are lead roles. They serve as characters who lead the way for resistance, problem-solving, and saving the world.

The War of the Worlds (1953):

In this sci-fi classic and Class II film, Martians invade Earth! Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson), who teaches library science courses, teams up with the hero-scientist (Gene Barry) in order to defeat the aliens.

Related posts: War films and reel librarians

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990):

In this dystopian tale and Class II film, fertility becomes rare, and fertile young women, trained as Handmaids, are treated as slaves in the households they are assigned to. Natasha Richardson plays a Handmaid, and we learn in one scene that she used to be a librarian. She never stops using her intelligence, and she becomes involved with the growing resistance movement.

Related posts: The reel librarian in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Idiocracy (2006):

This science fiction comedy film stars Luke Wilson as Joe Bauers, a U.S. Army librarian, who takes part in a classified military human hibernation experiment and awakens 500 years later in a dystopian society. He ends up as the most intelligent person alive.

The Age of Stupid (2009):

This drama-documentary film stars Pete Postlethwaite as an archivist living alone in the devastated world of 2055. He watches archival videos to understand why we didn’t stop climate change when we had the chance.


Helpers


Reel librarians in this sci-fi sub-category serve in supporting roles. They help the lead characters and provide vital assistance, knowledge or help inspire solutions.

The Monster that Challenged the World (1957):

In this Class III film, an earthquake in the Salton Sea, California, unleashes radioactive mollusk monsters. Nearby Naval base officers work to stop the horde of monsters, and a museum archivist (Milton Parsons) helps find a vital map of underground rivers.

Related posts: Of ‘monsters’ and missing maps

Quatermass and the Pit, aka Five Million Years to Earth (1967)

The third film in the Quatermass series and Class III film starts off with a discovery of ape-like human skeletons at a subway excavation site. The armed forces are called in when scientists further dig up a missile-like metal shape. Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and an assistant scientist, Barbara (Barbara Shelley) do some digging of their own — in the research archives. This leads them to the Westminster Abbey archives and a short scene with the Abbey Librarian (Noel Howlett).

Related posts: ‘Quatermass’ and the librarian

Soylent Green (1973):

In this sci-fi classic and Class I film, food is scarce, and the world’s population relies on a food product called “soylent green.” A detective (Charlton Heston) investigates a murder of a Soylent official, and his “Police Book” personal researcher (Edward G. Robinson, in his final film role), visits a former public library, now known as the “Supreme Exchange.” The librarians in this dystopian future are known as “Books.”

Related posts: Reader poll of runner-ups, Fall 2016: ‘Soylent Green’ and the Books

The Avengers (1998):

In this silly sci-fi adaptation of the British TV series and Class IV film, British agents John Steed (Joseph Fiennes) and Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) unite against Sir August De Wynter (Sean Connery), who attempts to control the world by a weather machine. Steed visits the Ministry Archives to get help from the archivist (Patrick Macnee).

The Time Machine (2002):

In this Class III remake of the 1960 sci-fi classic, disillusioned inventor (Guy Pearce) builds a time machine and travels 800,000 years into the future. He encounters Vox (Orlando Jones), a holographic librarian, who supplies him with information about time travel and the history and evolution of the planet and its population.

Related posts: Stylish male reel librarians

Doctor Strange (2016) ; Avengers: Infinity War (2018); and Avengers: Endgame (2019):

Benedict Wong plays Wong, a monastery librarian and Master of the Mystic Arts, in the Marvel’s Avengers movie series. In Doctor Strange (2016), Wong teaches Strange several important lessons throughout. In Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Wong defeats Cull Obsidian in battle and displays his librarian research skills to help set up the stakes — and the plot of the entire movie — to members of the Avengers. In Avengers: Endgame (2019), Wong survived the snap and plays a crucial role in the final battle scene.

Related posts: Sorcerer librarians of ‘Doctor Strange’ ; First impressions: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ ; First impressions: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) ; 3 reel librarians who have died in the line of duty

Blade Runner 2049 (2017):

In this sequel to 1982’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner and Class III film, Ryan Gosling stars as K, a police officer assigned to track down a rogue replicant. He begins by going to the Wallace Corporation’s Earth Headquarter archives to track down a suspect’s DNA and records; an archives clerk (Tómas Lemarquis) leads him to the files.

Related posts: Reel archivist in ‘Blade Runner 2049’


Hindrances


Reel librarians in this sub-category of sci-fi films serve as road blocks to the protagonists.

Rollerball (1975):

This sci-fi classic and Class III film is set in a future controlled by corporations, and Jonathan E. (James Caan) is the star of the ultra-violent sport Rollerball. The corporate executives want him to quit, but Jonathan defies them. In the first library scene (in this future, they are called “computer centers”), he goes to the local branch, where the Circulation clerk (Nancy Bleier) tells him his books are classified. Later, Jonathan travels to the central computer bank in Geneva, but the older librarian there (Ralph Richardson) is unable to get the information out from the main computer.

Related posts: Reel librarians in ‘Rollerball’ | Analyzing the 1975 original film and 2002 remake

Brainstorm (1983):

In this sci-fi thriller and Class IV film, researcher Michael Brace (Christopher Walken) has developed a system of recording and replaying actual experiences of people, complete with the “higher brain functions” of thoughts, emotions, senses of smell, etc. This technology gets corrupted by the military in order to torture and brainwash suspects. The finale of the film features the Tape Library and its technicians (Jimmy Casino, May Raymond Boss, and Clay Boss) who keep the tapes locked up.

Related posts: ‘Brainstorm’-ing

Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002):

In this second prequel in the Star Wars saga and Class III film, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) cannot find any information about a mysterious planet at the Jedi Archives. The Jedi librarian (Alethea McGrath as Jocasta Nu) insists that “if an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.

Related posts: The Jedi librarian ; May the archives be with you | Shining the spotlight on the Jedi librarian ; A funny thing happened on the way to the Jedi library…

Sources used

  • The Age of Stupid” via Wikipedia is licensed under a CC BY SA 3.0 license.
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