Serial killer librarians

In past Octobers, I have explored the “librarian as nightmare” archetype (2011); killer librarians (2012); librarians as villains or victims in horror films (2013); and librarians in horror films (2014). I have also analyzed a serial killer librarian in the indie film Chainsaw Sally, and I included “serial killer” in my post last year about notable additional occupations for reel librarians. This year, I thought it appropriate to collate all the serial killer librarians I’ve mentioned before into one post.

Defining “serial killer”

But first… let’s delve into what “serial killer” really means.

I hadn’t realized before how many several different definitions exist! This Psychology Today blog article, “What defines a serial killer?,” highlights major, differing understandings of this term:

  • FBI definition:  “According to the FBI, a serial killer is someone who commits at least three murders over more than a month with an emotional cooling off period in between.” The FBI also calls it “serial murder.”
  • National Institute of Justice definition:  “The National Institute of Justice provides a definition of serial killing that is closer to the common conception. According to them, it involves committing two or more murders with a psychological motive and sadistic sexual overtones. On this conception, serial killing can be understood as a type of sex crime.”
  • Federal law:  A 1998 federal law, Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998 (Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 51, and Section 1111), also linked sex with serial killings and defined it this way:  “The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.”

The Psychology Today article rightly points out problems with each definition, as sex isn’t always linked with serial murder, particularly with female serial killers and/or serial killers who suffer from some other kind of psychosis.

Therefore, I’m using a more expansive definition of “serial killer” to highlight reel librarian serial killers.

Also, potential spoilers ahead!

Chainsaw Sally (2004)

  • The title role in this indie film is the reel librarian — and as expected, she is ruthless with a chainsaw!
  • She kills several people in the course of the film, including:
    • a man who who talks loudly in the library
    • a young woman who never returned a library book she had checked out
    • another young woman working at an ice cream truck who misspells a word on an order form
  • Her reason for killing seems to be about punishing people who break rules
  • The film also links Sally’s psychosis and dual personality to childhood trauma, when her parents were murdered in front of her and her brother
  • Want more? On this blog, I have analyzed Chainsaw Sally in this “Little miss serial killer” post (2013); revisited and expanded on that original post in this “Revisiting favorites | Serial killer librarian” post (2016); and paired her up with Conan the Librarian in UHF in this “Conan the Librarian and Chainsaw Sally” post (2017).

ChainsawSally movie trailer2015,” uploaded by JimmyO Burril, Standard YouTube license

All About Evil (2010)

  • A “mousey librarian” (played by Natasha Lyonne), inherits a movie house. To save the family business, she provides her own victims in order to make her own “snuff films.”
  • I have not yet analyzed this film, so I’m not sure if the film goes into more detail about the reasons why the reel librarian turns to killing. If you have seen this film, please leave a comment below.
  • Want more? I included this film in my “Killer Librarians” post (2012).

All About Evil 2010,” uploaded by Cheap Thrills, Standard YouTube license

Personals (TV, 1990)

  • Brunette librarian with glasses by day, a blonde lady killer by night!
  • Jennifer O’Neill plays Heather, a librarian who lures men through newspaper personal ads in order to murder them on the first date.
  • A knife is her weapon of choice.
  • Her crimes are outwardly sexual in nature, and she relays fantasy sex dreams to her therapist

Personals/City Killer promos & USA Network ID, 1989” video uploaded by Chuck D’s All-New Classic TV Clubhouse, Standard YouTube license

The Church (1989)

  • Italian horror film, also known as La Chiesa, directed by Michele Soavi and written and produced by Dario Argento
  • Evan (played by Tomas Arana), a librarian cataloging a series of historical texts in an old church, removes a rock in the catacombs — thereby unleashing an ancient evil hidden underneath! Evan becomes possessed by a demon, and goes on a killing spree.
  • Since the underlying reason goes back to being possessed by a demon, I’m assuming this reel librarian would not be held responsible for his actions. But maybe do a little more research before removing things in catacombs next time, eh, librarian?
  • Want more? I included this film in this “Killer librarians” post (2012), and on my Foreign Films page.

the church (1989) trailer,” uploaded by John Nelson, Standard YouTube license

UHF (1989)

  • A rare comedy that includes a skit about a serial killing reel librarian, “Conan the Librarian” (hilarious!)
  • Conan the Librarian cuts one patron in half for returning a book late, and he starts to choke another patron because he dared to ask where some books were in the library
  • We only see “Conan the Librarian” technically kill one patron — slicing the patron in two with his sword — but from this short scene, I think we can infer a pattern of serial murders. I’m sure there are more bodies amongst the stacks!
  • Violent toward people who break the rules or don’t know the library system
  • Want more? I analyzed the film in this “He’s… Conan the Librarian” post (2011), and played matchmaker with Chainsaw Sally in this “Conan the Librarian and Chainsaw Sally” post (2017).

UHF (9/12) Movie CLIP – Conan the Librarian (1989) HD,” uploaded by Movieclips, Standard Youtube license

Potential serial killer?

  • In Wilderness (1996), a British mini-series that was also released in a condensed version, a reel librarian (played by Amanda Ooms) is convinced she turns into a wolf. Has she left a trail of mutilated bodies in her wake? Is it real, or is she hallucinating?

Click here to view a Wilderness trailer on the Video Detective site.

Additional mentions

  • Zodiac (2007):  This past year, I have analyzed the David Fincher film Zodiac, a film which goes in depth into the search for the Zodiac serial killer (another serial killer who did not necessarily kill for sexual reasons, but rather for power and the ability to cause mass fear and hysteria). There is no librarian seen in that film, but the power of library books plays a vital role in the investigations.
  • The Killing Kind (1973):  The reel librarian in that film fantasizes about nightmares — or as she calls them “hallucinations, they’re so real.”  She fantasizes about killing her father, among others. You can read more about this reel librarian in this “The Killing Kind vs. The Attic” post (2013).
  • Killer Movie (2008):  A reel librarian is a potential suspect in this horror film littered with bodies. You can read more about this reel librarian in this “Killer Movie, Scary librarian” post (2011).
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (1987):  The films opens on a woman being executed by lethal injection; we later find out she’s a serial killer who’s been murdering people since she was seven years old. A reporter present at the execution (Susan Tyrrell) then drives to Oldfield to interview the woman’s uncle, Julian White (Vincent Price). You can more about this film in this “Welcome to Oldfield” post (2014).
  • Ghostbusters (1984):  In this classic comedy, a reel librarian ghost is not a serial killer, but rather a serial scarer! Read more in this “Who you gonna call?” post (2012), and this “A closer look at the reel librarians in the original Ghostbusters” post (2017).

Any favorites here? Please leave a comment. 🙂


Librarians save the day!

I recently came across this old Huffington Post piece entitled, “Librarians Save The Day! 11 Great Movies In Which They Star.”

Huffington Post article screenshot

Although the piece is from 2010 (!), I still thought it appropriate to highlight during Banned Books Week, an annual event that spotlights librarians’ and readers’ efforts to fight censorship and book-banning. This year, Banned Books Week takes place Sept. 23-29, with the theme of “Speak Out!”

Here are the 11 movies Huffington Post included in its post, full of reel librarians who did speak out and save the day! I’ve also included links to prior posts I’ve written on this blog about each film.

1. The Music Man (1962)

Marian the Librarian (Shirley Jones) foils the plans of conman Harold Hill (Robert Preston) when she asks the school board about his background and credentials.

I’ve written before about here in this “Marian or Marion?” posthere in this “Marian and Ms. Jones” post, and included it in the updated “Best Picture nominees featuring librarians” post.

03_Marian The Librarian,” uploaded by Night Owl TV, Standard YouTube license

2. The Mummy (1999)

Evie Carnahan literally saves EVERYONE in this action adventure film, while also demonstrating pride of her librarian/archivist/Egyptologist roots in the famous drunken “I am a librarian!” scene.

I’ve analyzed the film and Evie’s heroic role here in this “Revisiting the reel librarian hero in 1999’s ‘The Mummy'” post.

The Mummy library scene – Rachel Weisz,” uploaded by Veronique Laurent, Standard YouTube license

3. Party Girl (1995)

Parker Posey stars as a party girl who redeems herself — and finds her true purpose in life! — by working at a library for her “librarian godmother” who bailed her out of jail.

I’ve highlighted Party Girl’s style here in this “Stylish female reel librarians” post and highlighted the call number musical scene here in this “Musical numbers for the library-minded” round-up post.

Librarian Lays Down the Law,” uploaded by evilkingdedede, Standard YouTube license

4. National Treasure (2004)

The Huffington Post gallery highlights how Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) “[s]eeking a treasure the founding fathers buried, he enlists the help of Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), the curator of the National Archives.” That’s DR. CHASE, thank you very much!

Although Dr. Chase is a reel archivist, and not technically a reel librarian, I do applaud the inclusion of this character on this list. She is a total badass! And I recently explored Dr. Chase’s role in two recent posts, here in the “Get out your white gloves and lemon juice! Reel archivist in ‘National Treasure'” post and here in the “A reel archivist returns in ‘National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets’” post.

National Treasure,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube license

5. Desk Set (1957)

Huffington Post gets it wrong when they state, “When Spencer Tracey becomes the new supervisor, the librarians get angry and the sparks start to fly.” Tracey does NOT become the new library supervisor; rather, he is an efficiency expert tasked to evaluate a TV network’s research library. Katharine Hepburns plays the head librarian in this film — which is one of my personal favorites!

I have written about this film several times on this Reel Librarians blog, including:

Desk Set 1957 math quiz,” uploaded by Antoinette Marchese Powell, Standard YouTube license

6. Foul Play (1978)

Another one of my favorite reel librarian leads! Goldie Hawn plays the lead role, a librarian, who unwittingly finds herself mixed up in a deadly murder plot, and teams up with Chevy Chase in this comic action-mystery film. She shows real spunkiness and creativity to get herself out of scrapes!

I included this film in my “Best librarian films by decade, Part II: 1960s-2000s” post and in my “Hall of Fame” list.

Goldie Hawn e William Frankfather – Foul Play (1978),” uploaded by Felipe Nobrega, Standard YouTube license

7. Storm Center (1956)

Bette Davis stars in this film as small-town librarian Alicia Hull, who refuses to remove a controversial book from the library and stands up to censorship. This film is loosely based on events that happened to real-life librarian Ruth Brown, who was the public librarian at the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Public Library, for over 30 years.

I included Storm Center in my “Reel librarian in political-themed films” round-up.

Let’s celebrate both the reel AND real librarian heroes who stand up to and speak out about censorship!

Storm Center (1956) – Just one book,” uploaded by 1956clips, Standard YouTube license

8. Miranda (2002)

A male reel librarian hero! This film stars John Simm whose library is being torn down. When a mysterious woman, played by Christina Ricci, comes into the library, he becomes romantically involved with her — and tracks her down when she goes missing.

I analyzed this film here in this “Special double feature: Miranda and the bibliothecaire” post, which also featured a French librarian blogger’s perspective on the film! Definitely worth a read (or a re-read!) for the dual librarian perspectives of this reel librarian film.

Miranda – John Simm” uploaded by JohnSimmSociety, Standard YouTube license

9. Peeping Tom (1960)

Anna Massey plays a librarian who befriends a neighbor, who turns out to be “compulsive murderer on a mission to make a documentary about fear.” Yikes. She does have a hand in bringing his crimes to light.

I included this film in my post of “banned reel librarian movies” and in my “Victims or villains? Librarians in horror films & thrillers” post.

The controversial film Peeping Tom–a review and analysis of the 1960 shocker by Michael Powell” uploaded by Johnny B, Standard YouTube license

10. The Station Agent (2003)

In this movie, “A man born with dwarfism moves to New Jersey after the death of his best friend. There, he becomes friends with a hot dog vendor and Emily, a divorced librarian (played by Michelle Williams).”

It’s a beautiful film, which I included in my “Best librarian films by decade, Part II: 1960s-2000s” post.

The Station Agent | ‘Friends’ (HD) – Peter Dinklage, Michelle Williams | MIRAMAX,” uploaded by Miramax, Standard YouTube license

11. “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear” (2004)

I’m so glad this TV movie made the list! Noah Wyle stars as Flynn Carson, aka “THE Librarian.” This TV movie spawned two TV movie sequels, as well as a spin-off TV series, “The Librarians.”

I analyzed Flynn Carson’s “Liberated Librarian” role in my “Quest for the ‘Liberated Librarian'” post, and I included the series in my “Best librarian films by decade, Part II: 1960s-2000s” post. I also highlighted Carson’s style in my “Stylish male reel librarians” post.

The Librarian Quest for the Spear,” uploaded by umlugarinthesun, Standard YouTube license

Any favorites here of yours here? Please leave a comment and share.

And please revisit my “list of banned reel librarian movies” post that I wrote for last year’s Banned Books Week!


Reel Librarians round-up: Private eyes in reel librarian films

I’ve written before about how I think Nancy Drew, perhaps the most famous amateur detective of them all, would have been an awesome librarian. And I’ve written about the crossovers in skills between librarians and private investigators.

So let’s follow this thread by looking at private eyes who show up in reel librarian films. Sometimes the reel librarian becomes the private detective, as well!

Collage of private detective and reel librarian silhouettes

Private eyes in reel librarian films:

Please note that the list below is not an exhaustive list, and it is arranged in chronological order. To compile this representative list of reel librarian films also featuring private detectives, I consulted my own files, as well as the invaluable 2005 book, The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917-1999, by Ray and Brenda Tevis, which I reviewed here.

The Captain Hates the Sea (1934)

An alcoholic newspaperman boards a ship, hoping for a restful cruise and the chance to quit drinking and begin writing a book. Also on board is a private detective hoping to nab a criminal with a fortune in stolen bonds — and a librarian on vacation! However, this reel librarian may be using this occupation as a cover for illicit activities…

Poster for 'The Captain Hates the Sea' (1934)

Poster for ‘The Captain Hates the Sea’ (1934)

Quiet Please, Murder (1942)

A public librarian helps a private detective who is investigating book forgers. The plot also includes Nazis and five (!) reel librarian roles. This film sounds AWESOME.

George Sanders Quiet Please: Murder VHS Rip,” uploaded by Jason Banks, Standard YouTube License

The Big Sleep (1946)

This is a classic, complex crime story featuring private eye Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart), who is hired to keep an eye on General Sternwood’s daughter (Lauren Bacall). In a brief library scene, a young librarian is curious about Marlowe’s reading choices.

Another young librarian also features in the film’s trailer, seen below:

The Big Sleep Official Trailer #1 – Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall Movie (1946) HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Trailer Vault, Standard YouTube License

Special Agent (1949)

In this crime thriller, special railroad agent Johnny Douglas is on the trail of an armed railway robbery. The TCM site provides a detailed synopsis, which outlines how a librarian fits into the plot:

As part of the investigation, Johnny brings the Devereaux’ belongings to University of California criminologist Jerome Bowen, who studies the items for clues about the killers. Although many false leads are phoned in by the public, Johnny finally gets some real clues … from a librarian who gave the brothers the news clipping.

Special Agent (1949) CRIME THRILLER,” uploaded by PizzaFlix, Standard YouTube License

I Was a Shoplifter (1950)

Mona Freeman stars in the leading role as shoplifter Faye Burton, an attractive 22-year-old librarian suffering from kleptomania. Plus, there’s a shoplifting gang and an undercover agent. What a plot line!

I was a shoplifter,” uploaded by hard to find films, Standard YouTube License

Hammett (1982)

In this film noir, mystery writer Dashiell Hammett (Frederic Forrest) gets involved in a real-life mystery involving a woman’s disappearance. His main squeeze is a sexy librarian (Marilu Henner).

“Hammett” (1982) Trailer,” uploaded by The Rap Sheet, Standard YouTube License

The Empty Beach (1985)

In this Australian thriller, based on the novel by Peter Corris, Bryan Brown stars as private investigator Cliff Hardy, who inquires into the disappearance of a beautiful woman’s wealthy husband from Bondi Beach. Deborah Kennedy plays the minor role of Newspaper Librarian, who aids Hardy in his investigation.

The Empty Beach (1985) Trailer,” uploaded by sms, Standard YouTube License

The Golden Child (1986)

In this Class III film, private detective Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) sets out to find the “Golden Child,” a Buddhist mystic who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer. Early on in a scene set in a nondescript building, a mysterious lady named Kala supplies Jarrell with information about the Golden Child and his quest. It is revealed that Kala is a librarian and a half-dragon lady over 300 years old (!). Although not the only not-quite-human reel librarian (see Necronomicon, Book of the Dead, 1993), she is quite memorable, even outside her Sacred Depository library.

Clicking here will take you to an audio clip of her brief scene.

A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery (TV, 2015)

Aurora Teagarden, or “Roe” for short (played by Candice Cameron Bure), is a librarian and amateur sleuth. Her master’s thesis was in true-crime literature, which she puts to good use to solve local mysteries! This was the pilot episode of a TV series.

Reel Librarians | Roe studies a skull in 'A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Screenshot from ‘A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’ (2015)

Read my post analyzing the TV movie, A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery.

Honorable mentions:

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Well-known private detective Philo Vance returns again in this film, based on the series of novels by S. S. Van Dine, and this is William Powell’s fourth appearance as Vance. This is often regarded as the best of the Philo Vance screen adaptations, and it is a classic “locked room” kind of mystery.

No librarians, unfortunately, but the film does feature a private library, and this library, plus a book in its collection called Unsolved Murders, are central to the mystery plot.

Read my post analyzing The Kennel Murder Case here.

William Powell in THE KENNEL MURDER CASE (1933),” uploaded by The Video Cellar, Standard YouTube License

The FBI Story (1959)

The history of the FBI unfolds through one agent’s (Jimmy Stewart) perspective. His wife (Vera Miles) was a public librarian, and there is one early scene set in the library. Admittedly, Stewart does not play a private detective — rather, he is an official FBI agent — but he does often go undercover, so that’s why I’ve added this film to the honorable mention list.

The Fbi Story – Original Theatrical Trailer,” uploaded by Warner Bros., Standard YouTube License

Any favorites here? If I’ve missed a major film, please let me know!

Reel librarian love for Valentine’s Day: Movies for different romantic moods

In the vein of the “Cinematherapy” books — which you saw a couple of on my movie book collection post — I have put together lists of different reel librarian movies for different romantic moods. Enjoy!

Valentine love by Nietju is licensed under a CC0 public domain license

Valentine love by Nietju is licensed under a CC0 public domain license

If you’d like to skip to a specific category, click below:

Finding your prince… with a twist || Grown-up love || Star-crossed love || Love triangles || I’m not crying… you’re crying! || Summer romances || No more drama? No way! || Love notes || Opposites attract || Love on the rocks

Finding your prince… with a twist

Ella Enchanted (2004):

This Class IV reel librarian movie features an actual “Prince Charming” (played by Hugh Dancy)! The well-known Cinderella plot hinges on Ella’s gift of obedience bestowed by a fairy godmother, Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox), whom Ella (Anne Hathaway) is trying to find in order to release this curse of a blessing. Ella tries to find a record of Lucinda’s whereabouts in the castle’s Hall of Records, where an archives clerk is most unhelpful. The twist in this movie is that Ella is the film’s true hero and savior. Read my analysis post of this film here.

Screenshot from 'Ella Enchanted'

Screenshot from ‘Ella Enchanted’ and its Hall of Records scene

Ever After (1998):

Another Cinderella story turned on its heel, starring the ever-charming Drew Barrymore as Danielle and dreamy Dougray Scott as Prince Henry. Danielle also saves the day, more than once, in this historical romance. To impress Danielle, Prince Henry takes her to a monastery library, for a fun historical version of a  “first date” — swoon! Read my analysis post of this film here.

Reel Librarians: Ever After monastery library

Fade-in from Prince Henry to the monastery library in ‘Ever After’

That Touch of Mink (1962):

If Cary Grant is your idea of a modern prince — and I join you in that thought! — then you can’t go wrong with this romantic comedy starring Grant as a millionaire playboy and Doris Day as the klutzy-but-adorable object of his affection. The twist? She wants marriage while he wants only an affair, and the movie is pretty straightforward about the conflict.

In one hilarious scene and sub-plot, Grant and his friend (Gig Young) break into a motel room in order to find Day, but they end up interrupting a romantic tryst between a librarian and her would-be lover. “You do believe I never cared for another man until you walked in the library?” Will the reel librarian find her own prince? Read my play-by-play post of this movie here.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'That Touch of Mink' (1962)

A reel librarian’s tryst from ‘That Touch of Mink’ (1962)

Grown-up love

Do you like to watch romance blossom slowly, but surely, between two adults, including scenes filled with the details and issues of real life? Then you might enjoy one of these romances, featuring both minor and major reel librarians:

Brief Encounter (1945):

This classic romance is about an ordinary English wife and mother (Celia Johnson) and an ordinary English husband and father (Trevor Howard) who meet one day by chance and fall in love. So simple, yet so devastating. The woman stops by the Boots Lending Library during her weekly shopping — and later uses the librarian as an excuse for staying out late! Click here to read my full post of this film.

Screenshot from 'Brief Encounter'

Boot’s Lending Library in ‘Brief Encounter’

Desk Set (1957):

In this sparkling workplace comedy, Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) expertly handles a TV network’s research library, as well as the attentions of an efficiency expert (Spencer Tracy). Their mutual admiration and respect for one another’s abilities and intelligence — a relationship in which they start out as competitors and then develop into friendship — is a delight to behold. Click here to read a comparison of the original play and the film adaptation.

Hepburn & Tracyy in 'Desk Set'

Hepburn & Tracyy in ‘Desk Set’

Enough Said (2013):

A quirky slice-of-life glimpse into the budding romance between two middle-aged, single parents. Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a free-spirited masseuse, and Albert (James Gandolfini) is a digital archivist at the fictional American Library of Cultural History. In one scene, Albert takes Eva on a tour of the archives, his office, and the public viewing room. Click here to read my full analysis post of this film.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Enough Said'

Kissing in the archives in ‘Enough Said’

The Magic of Ordinary Days (TV, 2005):

This TV movie romance, set during World War II, features a beautiful young woman (Keri Russell) in an arranged marriage with a lonely, good-hearted farmer (Skeet Ulrich). They slowly start to fall in love. In an early scene, they travel to the nearest public library, which is an hour away. Now that’s love! 🙂 Click here for the full analysis post of this film.

The public librarian in 'The Magic of Ordinary Days'

The public librarian in ‘The Magic of Ordinary Days’

Star-crossed love

If you like your films to have a fantastical element, like time travel or reincarnation… these films might be just what you’re looking for:

The Age of Adaline (2015):

Adaline (Blake Lively), a young woman and a recent widow, gets into a car accident in the 1930s and stops aging as a result of the accident. (Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy the costumes and the camera work.) After decades of living alone, she meets a man, Ellis (Michiel Huisman), who makes her question her life choices. Adaline works in the archives at the San Francisco Heritage Society library, and there are several scenes set in the library. Click here to read my full analysis post of this romance.

Reel Librarians | A collage of Adaline reading a book in braille on the library steps

Love meets cute… and a book from ‘The Age of Adaline’

Chances Are (1989):  

In this romantic comedy, college library assistant Alex (Robert Downey, Jr.) falls for his girlfriend’s mother (Cybill Shepherd). Oh, and there’s the bit about the mother’s husband having been reincarnated into Alex. It’s high-concept romantic comedy… just don’t think too hard about it. 😉 Click here to read my full analysis post of this romantic comedy.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Chances Are'

A ‘meet cute’ in the library in ‘Chances Are’

Somewhere in Time (1980):

A time-travel romance in which a Chicago playwright (Christopher Reeve) uses self-hypnosis to go back in time and meet the love of his life (Jane Seymour). This is Romance with a capital R. There is a brief but pivotal library scene toward the beginning of the film. Click here for the full post of this film.

Reel Librarians | Screenshots from 'Somewhere in Time'

Looking for love… in the library, in ‘Somewhere in Time’

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009):

Henry (Eric Bana), a librarian, time travels in and out of a sweeping love story with Clare (Rachel McAdams). There are a couple of early scenes set in a library, and Henry is called a “special collections librarian.” Based on the best-selling book by Audrey Niffenegger. Click here to read my full analysis post of this film, which won a reader’s poll.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Time Traveler's Wife'

Time-traveling romance in a library, in ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’

Wings of Desire (aka Der Himmel über Berlin, 1987):

An angel in Berlin falls in love with a mortal and wishes to become human. Although there are no reel librarians in this film, there are three memorable scenes set and filmed in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), where angels often go to hang out with humans. Revisit each library scene here in my post about this beautiful film.

Reel Librarian | Library scene in 'Wings of Desire' (1987)

Love triangles

When you like your romances complicated…

The Philadelphia Story (1940):

This classic romantic triangle features a a rich socialite (Katharine Hepburn), her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (Jimmy Stewart). In one comedic scene set at the public library, Hepburn and Stewart discuss a book he wrote, and a Quaker librarian shushes them. What does thee wish? To rewatch this film, of course! Click here to read my full post for this film.

Reel Librarians | Library scene in 'The Philadelphia Story' (1940)

Library scene in ‘The Philadelphia Story’ (1940)

Possession (2002):  

A double-decker romance with two love triangles. Two literary researchers (Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart) track down the correspondence and relationship between two Victorian poets (Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle). Both the modern and Victorian romances include past (and present) romantic partners. It’s complicated. In an early scene, Eckhart checks out a book at the British Museum library and answers questions from a nosy male librarian. Click here for my review of this reader poll-winning film.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Possession' (2002)

Maud and Roland walk through a library en route to Maud’s office

Rome Adventure (1962):  

In this romantic drama, Prudence Bell (Suzanne Pleshette) quits her job as a librarian at a private college and sets off to Italy in search of adventure and love. She definitely finds them with both Rossano Brazzi and Troy Donahue, who later became Pleshette’s real-life husband. Click here to read my full post of this film.

Rome Adventure (1962) Official Trailer – Troy Donahue, Suzanne Pleshette Movie HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Trailer Vault, Standard YouTube License

I’m not crying… you’re crying!

“Good cry” romances, for when you need to let your emotions out:

Bed of Roses (1996):  

A romance dedicated to its genre! A career woman (Mary Stuart Masterson), who’s got a lot of emotional baggage from her childhood, falls in love with a florist (Christian Slater), who can’t stop sending her roses. The florist also has his own emotional baggage. On a day out together, they stop by the public library to hear a children’s storytime hour.

Bed of Roses (1996) Trailer,” uploaded by depplover63, Standard YouTube License

City of Angels (1998):

This romantic drama follows an angel (Nicolas Cage) who becomes romantically involved with a doctor (Meg Ryan). The angels like to visit the San Francisco Public Library — I don’t blame them — and there are several short scenes set in the library, including one featuring a young male circulation clerk. Although a remake of 1987’s Wings of Desire — also included in this round-up — this plot and tone of this film is very different from its original inspiration. Click here for my full post of this film.

City of Angels – Trailer,” uploaded by YouTube Movies, Standard YouTube License

Love Story (1970):  

The first scene of this film, set in the Radcliffe College library, sets up the five-hanky romance between Jenny (Ali MacGraw) and Oliver (Ryan O’Neal). Jenny is a student library assistant, but we quickly find out she’s a music major. Have the Kleenex ready!

Love Story (1970) – Official Trailer,” uploaded by OldSchoolTrailers, Standard YouTube License

Summer romances

For when you want to relive the fleeting love of youth…

Goodbye, Columbus (1969):  

A poor Bronx librarian (Richard Benjamin) enjoys a summer romance with a privileged “Jewish-American princess” (Ali MacGraw). Based on the book by Philip Roth.

Goodbye, Columbus | Trailer (Klara Tavakoli Goesche),” uploaded by Klara Tavakoli Goesche, Standard YouTube License

Racing with the Moon (1984):  

This is a romantic drama set during World War II. Two young men (Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage), about to join the Marines in early 1943, spend their final days in town finding out about love and growing up. Penn falls in love with the new girl in town (Elizabeth McGovern), who works part-time at the local public library. Turns out Elizabeth McGovern and Sean Penn enjoyed an off-screen romance during the making of this film, even becoming engaged for a short time afterward.

Racing With The Moon Trailer 1984,” uploaded by Video Detective, Standard YouTube License

No more drama? No way!

For when you don’t want your romance sweetened with comedy or musical numbers… just bring the drama!

Forbidden (1932):

In this film’s first scene, Lulu (Barbara Stanwyck), a lonely and idealistic young librarian, quits her library job. She cleans out her bank account and sets sail for Havana, where she becomes romantically involved with an older man (Adolphe Menjou). Romantic melodrama ensues: the plot includes an illegitimate child, a lifelong adulterous affair, murder, and a deathbed pardon!

Forbidden 1932 Barbara Stanwyck,” uploaded by SweetnSaltyLife99, Standard YouTube License

Where the Heart Is (2000):  

In this chicken-fried romance, a pregnant teen (Natalie Portman) rebuilds her life after giving birth in a small town’s Walmart. Along the way, she falls in love with a young man (James Frain), who runs the local public library and cares for his alcoholic sister, the real librarian. There are a LOT of odd and dramatic subplots and characters in this film.

Where The Heart Is ~ Mary Elizabeth Dies & Forney/Novalee Love Scene,” uploaded by Cassie Hill, Standard YouTube License

Love notes

Movie musicals that feature librarians, for when you are in the mood for love to be set to song.

Good News (1947):  

A college student and library assistant (perpetual cutie June Allyson) falls for the college’s football hero (Peter Lawford) in this musical comedy. One of musical scenes, “The French Lesson,” is set in the library.

The French Lesson,” uploaded by rokrchicky, Standard YouTube License

The Music Man (1962):

In this classic movie musical, con man Harold Hill (Robert Preston) tries to scam a community into buying band uniforms — and ends up falling for the librarian. As you do. 😉 Shirley Jones’s portrayal of Marian has been immortalized in popular culture, in part due to the song “Marian the Librarian.”

03_Marian The Librarian,”  uploaded by Night Owl TV, Standard YouTube License

Strike Up the Band (1940):

In this “putting on a show” musical romance, high schooler Jimmy Connors (Mickey Rooney) wants to start a dance orchestra band to compete in a national radio contest. His girlfriend Mary (Judy Garland) sings along for the ride. We learn later in the film that Mary works part-time at the local library. This has nothing to do with the plot of the film, except that she sings a song while closing up at the library.

JUDY GARLAND: ‘NOBODY’, 1940. A SONG TO REMEMBER.,” uploaded by Michele Bell, Standard YouTube License

Opposites attract

For when you’re in the mood for two strong personalities to crash into love and let the sparks fly!

Adventure (1945):

A buttoned-up public librarian (Greer Garson) falls for a roustabout sailor (Clark Gable) in this rocky romantic drama. The two “meet cute” in the San Francisco Public Library.

Greer Garson and Gable Adventure 1945,” uploaded by fred freeze, Standard YouTube License

Bloomington (2010):  

In this LGBTQ romance and independent film, a former child actress (Sarah Stouffer) attends college and falls in love with a female psychology professor (Allison McAtee). When she gets a chance to return to Hollywood, what will she choose? Although both women are blonde, their personalities are very different, as are their roles as student and professor. There is a sexy scene set in the college library, as well as a young reel librarian at the end of the film. Click here for the full post of this film.

Love in the stacks in 'Bloomington'

Love in the stacks in ‘Bloomington’

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961):  

In this classic romance, free spirit Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) finally finds love with writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). You get a sense that there is an old soul within Holly’s carefully curated nonchalance, while Varjak comes off as a man-child who pretends to be suave but is really desperate for love. Opposites attract? There are a couple of scenes set in the New York Public Library; in one of those scenes, Varjak autographs a copy of his book in the library, which the librarian exclaims is “defacing public property!”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Paul Tells Holly in the Library He Loves Her (16) – Audrey Hepburn,” uploaded by, Standard YouTube License

No Man of Her Own (1932):  

In this romantic drama, con artist and gambler (Clark Gable) goes to small town Glendale to escape prosecution and ends up falling in love with the young, straight-laced, and sassy-mouthed librarian (Carole Lombard). OF COURSE. A few scenes are set in the library, including one in which Gable looks up Lombard’s skirt while she shelves books!

Clark Gable in No Man of Her Own (1932)/ famous quotes,” uploaded by JohnnyDepp Persianfan, Standard YouTube License

Love on the rocks

For when you’re in an “anti-romance” mode… when love goes dark, and you’re in the mood to make some trouble:

I Love You to Death (1990):

This pitch-black comedy has a different take on a romance:  a deadly one. A loyal Italian-American wife, Rosalie (Tracey Ullman), tries several times to kill her husband (Kevin Kline) after she finds out that he is cheating. And where does she find out about his philandering ways? At the local public library. (SIGH.) Click here for the full post of this film.

Screenshot from 'I Love You to Death'

When love makes you sick, in ‘I Love You to Death’

Miranda (2002):

In this noirish romance, hapless librarian Frank (John Simm) falls in love with the mysterious Miranda (Christina Ricci) and goes after her when she disappears from his life one day. The film’s opening sequence is set in the library, which is set for demolition. Click here for a special double feature post of this film.

Reel Librarians | 'Miranda' screenshot

Love isn’t love unless it’s on an Elvis rug, in ‘Miranda’

In the mood for love…

… and more reel librarian romance? Browse to your heart’s content the following posts:

Any favorites here? Are you now in the mood for a reel librarian romance? Please leave a comment and share!

Reel librarian films make ‘best of’ lists for 2017

I was reading Vox’s “21 best movies of 2017” list by my favorite movie reviewer, Alissa Wilkinson (her writing is so articulate and beautiful), when I realized that TWO reel librarian films had made her top movies list of the year! Also, both films were in the top 10!

Columbus (2017)

Coming in at #9 is Columbus, the debut film from director Kogonada, starring Haley Lu Richardson as a young library worker living in Columbus, Indiana, who also loves architecture. She meets Jin (John Cho) and starts to show him her favorite buildings around the city. (A quick glimpse of the library can be seen in the trailer below, at 1:24 mins.)

Columbus Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Indie,” uploaded by Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films, Standard YouTube license

As Wilkinson writes:

“Columbus is beautiful and subtle, letting us feel how the places we build and the people we let near us move and mold us.”

Columbus also made the top movies list for Slate, Entertainment Weekly, The Ringer, as well as Rotten Tomatoes’ Best Reviewed Movies of 2017 (at a 97% fresh rating!).

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Ranking at #2 on the Vox list is Ex Libris, a documentary by Frederick Wiseman about the New York Public Library. It’s rare for a documentary to crack a “best of” list, let alone a documentary about a library! ♥

Trailer de Ex Libris: New York Public Library (HD),” uploaded by Cine maldito, Standard YouTube license

I teared up at Wilkinson’s summing up of this film:

Ex Libris is his mesmerizing look at the New York Public Library and the many functions it fills, which go far beyond housing books. […] It makes a case for having faith in the public institutions where ordinary people work — away from the limelight, without trying to score political points — in order to make our communities truly better.

I have not seen either one of these films (yet)… have you? What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment and share!