Reader poll write-up: Teenage Mother

Teenage Mother (1967) won the recent reader poll, squeaking past at the last minute due to my husband’s shameless promotion. He gets the credit blame for this post, as¬†he wanted to watch ME watching this film, just for my reactions. I had some. ūüėČ

My DVD copy of this film is from Something Weird Video in Seattle, with a “special edition” DVD. Something Weird promotes itself as “the very best in exploitation cinema,” and that rings true for Teenage Mother. The back of the DVD case has Handsome Harry Archer‚Äôs complete review of Teenage Mother, which opens¬†with stating it as a ‚Äútextbook example of classic old-school exploitation.‚ÄĚ The film was directed by Jerry Gross, who would later direct¬†the cult classic¬†I Spit on Your Grave.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Reel Librarians | DVD case for 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

DVD case for ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

The basics

Here’s the basic plot, such as it is: ¬†A new health teacher is hired to teach sex education in a high school and gets blamed when a student turns up pregnant. Except the student isn’t actually pregnant. She just told her boyfriend that so that he wouldn’t leave her and go off to medical school. Winners, all. And there’s footage of a live birth at the end. And an extended musical interlude in the middle. Cue the sweet anticipation!

As my husband said:

When you have a 70-minute film and only 40 minutes worth of plot, you HAVE to fill it with musical interludes and a live birth at the end!

To be clear, this movie is NOT good. It is bad. I knew it would be bad. But the question in my mind was this:  Was it SO bad that it would turn out to be awesomely bad? Unfortunately, NO. But as my husband quipped:

It’s the kind of bad that almost feels like a cultural moment.

The film starts off with footage of a stock-car race. Because WHY NOT.

Reel Librarians | Title screen from 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

Title screen from ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

Introducing the books and the school librarian

Fifteen minutes into the film, the coach gets to introduce the new health teacher, Miss Erika Petersen (Julie Ange), who dives straight into the required and supplemental texts for the new “anatomical biology” course.

Fun fact:  This film was the film debut of Fred Willard, who plays the coach!

Reel Librarians | Miss Petersen introduces the two textbooks for the new sex education class, in 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

Miss Petersen introduces the two textbooks for the new sex education class, in ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

Miss Petersen: ¬†Two texts are required reading for this course. The first, Moreline‚Äôs (?) Basics in Human Anatomy is the best for our line of work. In fact, most colleges use it today. This will be supplemented by Caracola’s (?) Adult Sexual Behavior. Both of these books have been ordered, and we should have them for you early next week.

Miss Petersen:  If any of you would like to do additional reading on this subject, I strongly recommend Saucer’s (?) Male and Female. I’m sure your school library has a copy available.

Tony [a student]:  I’ve already checked the library, and Miss Fowler, the librarian, told me it wasn’t available.

Miss Petersen:  That’s very interesting, Tony. I didn’t know you knew of this book.

Tony:  Well, I’d like to become a doctor. In fact, our family physician Dr. Wilson told me to read this book last year.

Miss Petersen:  And Miss Fowler didn’t know of the book? Well, it’s fairly recent. Perhaps she didn’t notice it in the book publisher’s catalog.

Tony:  She knew of it. She said it was indecent for our library.

[classroom erupts in laughter]

Miss Petersen:  Nonsense. At least 90% of all colleges and universities have this book in their libraries, and as many as 50% of all high schools. I’ll discuss this matter personally with Miss Fowler.

The bell rings, ending this scene after a couple of minutes.

Editor’s note: There were no captions available, and the actress’s “European” accent (dubbed?) makes it hard to understand the authors’ names she was saying, which explains why I put in question marks beside names in the quotations above. I couldn’t find any record of the first two books she mentions in this scene.¬†Also,¬†in the scene above and in the later scene with the school librarian, Miss Petersen clearly states the supplementary book, Male and Female, is by an author whose last name sounds like “Saucer” and that it has been newly published. I searched WorldCat¬†— ’cause y’all know I would, right?! — but could not find any book published by that title in the late ’60s by an author with a similar last name. There was, however, a well-known¬†text in this field, Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World, written and published in 1949 by Margaret Mead. And interestingly, there was another edition of this book published by Penguin in 1967, the same year of this film.¬†So why use the same title but change the author? Just another question among many when it comes to this movie!

School library scene

At almost half an hour into the film, we get the library scene. It’s a very short scene, lasting a minute or less. But it is memorable.¬†I have also nicknamed the school librarian “Fowler the Scowler,” as you shall soon see why.

Reel Librarians | School library and librarian in 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

School library and librarian in ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

The scene begins with a wide shot of the school library — the film was filmed at East Rockaway High School in Long Island, so I assume this was also their school library — and the school librarian (an uncredited role) is checking in or filing cards in card catalog drawers. The school library is (surprisingly?) filled with lots of students and lots of books.

Miss Petersen walks in, and they make nice for about 5 seconds.

Reel Librarians | The school librarian and the new health teacher meet in 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

The school librarian and the new health teacher meet in ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

Miss Petersen:  Good morning, Miss Fowler.

Miss Fowler:  Good morning, Miss Petersen. Can I be of some assistance?

Miss Petersen:  Yes, one of my students, maybe you know him, Tony Michaels. He told me he was unable to find Saucer’s Male and Female on file here. You do have the book, don’t you?

Miss Fowler:  Most certainly not.

Miss Petersen:  Why not, Miss Fowler? It’s one of the most standard texts on anatomical hygiene.

Miss Fowler:  It’s a filthy book.

This outburst and Miss Fowler’s high-pitched exclamation catch the attention of nearby¬†students! Miss Fowler clears her throat.

Reel Librarians | A startled student in the school library in 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

A startled student in the school library in ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

Miss Petersen:  Filthy?

Miss Fowler [in a lower voice]:  Yes, filthy! I wouldn’t allow one of our students to even leaf through it. The illustrations are positively vulgar.

Miss Petersen:  They only show the beauty of the human body.

Miss Fowler:  Teenage children are not meant to see such things.

Miss Petersen:  That’s just the point. These youngsters are not children any longer. Their bodies are the bodies of young adults, with all the needs and desires of young adults.

Miss Fowler:  I wouldn’t know about that. [turns her head and looks down, rapidly blinking her eyelids]

Reel Librarians | Librarian closeup from 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

Miss Petersen:  Apparently not. These young people have the right to know about the facts of life. which you say they cannot read. This is a free country, Miss Fowler.

Miss Fowler:  That book has never appeared in this library and never will, as long as I’m here.

Miss Petersen:  Let’s hope that’s not too long.

“Fowler the Scowler” then adjusts her glasses and goes back to filing¬†her cards, an even more pinched look on her face. She ends as she begins the scene, as an uptight, sexually repressed librarian whose mind is closed to new ideas. An uplifting cinematic message for all librarians. ūüė¶

Reel Librarians | The school librarian goes back to filing cards in 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

The school librarian goes back to filing cards in ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

I put together a collage of facial expressions to illustrate the reason for my “Fowler the Scowler” nickname of this school librarian:

Reel Librarians | Collage of 'Fowler the Scowler' from 'Teenage Mother' (1967)

Collage of ‘Fowler the Scowler’ from ‘Teenage Mother’ (1967)

Town meeting and attempted censorship

The rest of the film delves into the Tony’s relationship with his girlfriend,¬†Arlene Taylor (played by a real-life Arlene, Arlene Farber), the one who lies about being pregnant in order to trap her boyfriend. She attempts to run away, and her friend confesses the¬†(fake) secret pregnancy to Arlene’s dad, who somehow has the clout to call an immediate “town meeting” at the high school in order to get Miss Petersen fired.

Here’s one memorable line from the town meeting scene, in which the principal defends his decision to hire Miss Petersen:

If your daughter became pregnant, it wasn’t because of anything she read in a book.

Oddly, “Fowler the Scowler” is NOT at that meeting, which I found disappointing. A missed opportunity! In my head, it would have been an awesome ending to have Miss Fowler also join the attempt to get Miss Petersen fired — and then the reverse happens! It would close the loop on Miss Petersen’s final words in the library scene, that she hopes it’s “not too long” before Miss Fowler is gone.

And that’s what this film does: ¬†It makes a real-life librarian root AGAINST a reel librarian.¬†

In the excellent and thorough reference book on reel librarians, The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917-1999, which I reviewed here in this post, the Tevises sum up the censorship message of the film and the ultimate contrast and conflicting messages of the school principal and the school librarian:

Teenage Mother is one of the few films that confronts the topic of sex education materials in secondary schools. Although the principal of the school is progressive, the librarian scorns the value of sex education. Without the support of the librarian, whose responsibility includes obtaining the appropriate learning materials to support instruction and student research, the program’s success is problematical. The film depicts the librarian as the high school’s moral watchdog who uses her power to censor library materials. (p. 122)

Spinster Librarian role

So what role does Miss Fowler play in this film? I would say most¬†definitely the Spinster Librarian character type, with her uptight manner and closed-minded outlook on collection development. The midpoint of her conversation with Miss Petersen — the self-confession of “I wouldn’t know about that” in response to the health teacher’s remark about the body’s “needs and desires” — clinches the deal.

Also, all of the stereotypical physical traits are there: ¬†an older white woman, hair pulled back in a bun, glasses on a lanyard, high-necked blouse, etc. Even though her time onscreen is short, “Fowler the Scowler” is memorable, landing her librarian role and film in the Class III category.

The 30 seconds of “Fowler the Scowler” in Teenage Mother¬†almost rival the 30 seconds of Spinster Librarian infamy in¬†the 1946 classic¬†It’s a Wonderful Life.

Final review and trailer

Here’s an excerpt from Ian Jane’s¬†DVD Talk review of the film:

Preaching to its audience from a fairly lofty perch, the picture purports to deliver a social message about why kids should abstain or at the very least play it safe, but it’s been made so cheaply and marketed with such a sleazy, hyper-sexualized marketing campaign (be sure to watch the trailer which completely misrepresents the film in every way possible) that all of that gets thrown aside.¬†Why? Because it’s obvious that all of this build up and moralizing was simply an excuse to bust out some really graphic footage of a baby popping its way out of some gooey female genitalia.

And finally, I’ve linked to that spectacularly misleading trailer below. I usually like to begin a film analysis post with a trailer, but this trailer needs to come AFTER the film, not before. Also, this trailer IS graphic — as it warns, it includes footage of¬†the live-birth scene from¬†the end of Teenage Mother.

Teenage Mother (1967) Trailer,” uploaded on April 18, 2016, by¬†Vulture Graffix, is licensed under a CC BY license.

Teacher librarian in ‘Primary Colors’

I’m still in a political mood, it seems, when it comes to analyzing reel librarians…¬†from researching Nixon’s Watergate scandal in 1976’s¬†All the President’s Men¬†last week¬†to now hitting the campaign trail in 1998’s Primary Colors, a fictionalized version of Governor Bill Clinton’s¬†Jack Stanton’s history-making presidential campaign. John Travolta portrays¬†Bill Clinton Stanton, and Emma Thompson portrays¬†his wife, Hillary Clinton Susan Stanton.

The film, based on a popular book by Joe Klein, earned two Oscar nominations, for Best Supporting Actress (Kathy Bates) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Elaine May). Rewatching the film, I had forgotten how many other actors of note there were in the film, including Billy Bob Thornton, Diane Ladd, Maura Tierney, and Larry Hagman!

I checked out a DVD of the film from my library, but the library scene is also included in this online clip:

Paul Guilfoyle in Primary Colors (Part 1 of 3),” uploaded by mppmvfemwww mppmvfemwww, Dec. 28, 2011. Standard YouTube license.

The film is primarily told from the perspective of Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), a younger African-American man who the Stanton campaign is trying to recruit to help run their campaign. He gets swept up in the action, and as an outsider, he serves as a surrogate for the audience.

The film opens outside a school in New York, where Henry meets Governor Stanton, who is about to attend an adult literacy program. Stanton introduces Marianne Walsh, a “very special librarian who is running their classes.” A reel librarian personally introduced within the film’s first two¬†minutes! Very special, indeed!

Reel Librarians | Meeting Marianne Walsh, the school librarian, in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

Meeting Marianne Walsh, the school librarian, in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

In the credits, the librarian is listed as “Miss Walsh,” signifying her unmarried status. Miss Walsh, played by Allison Janney, is a white woman, tall with short brunette hair, and wearing a modestly cut print shirtdress with long sleeves. She wears no glasses, modest jewelry, and subtle makeup. Miss Walsh is obviously nervous, as she immediately calls Governor Stanton by the wrong name!

She then takes the group on a tour of the school, the walls¬†littered with graffiti. She admits the walls are pretty bad but that the library is better. ¬†‚ÄúWe‚Äôre very proud of the library. […] It’s the only reading program like it in New York, that I know of.‚ÄĚ

Reel Librarians | The school librarian gives a tour of the school in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

The school librarian gives a tour of the school in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

On the walk up the stairs to the library, Miss Walsh suddenly slips under the railing — she quickly recovers, with the help of Governor Stanton, but not before we all find out that the librarian chooses not to wear a slip! Yep, a slip reveals the absence of a slip. ūüėČ

Reel Librarians | School librarian Marianne Walsh slips up the stairs in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

School librarian Marianne Walsh slips up the stairs in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

She seems thoroughly embarrassed, running her hands through her hair, but the next scene in the library reveals a very different version of the school librarian, one who is calm and collected. Adult students, all older men and women of color, are seated around a table and sharing their stories.

Reel Librarians | Meeting the adult literacy learners in the school library scene in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

Meeting the adult literacy learners in the school library scene in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

Miss Walsh encourages one older man, Dwayne, to share his story, as seen in the screenshot below. She clearly knows the students well and has a warm, encouraging tone. She looks like she’s in her element, supportive and confident. After Dwayne shares his story, which is truly touching and emotional, Governor Stanton shares a (seemingly) personal story about his Uncle Charlie who also couldn’t read.

Reel Librarians | The school librarian and Dwayne, an adult literacy learner, in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

The school librarian and Dwayne, an adult literacy learner, in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

Reel Librarians | Governor Stanton shares his story in the school library scene in 'Primary Colors' (1998)

Governor Stanton shares his story in the school library scene in ‘Primary Colors’ (1998)

After Stanton finishes his story, the librarian claps and stands up along with everyone else. She and the students go to hug and congratulate Stanton — and in the middle of the crowd, Miss Walsh slips again! Stanton advises her to have her shoes checked.

These scenes in the library, which slowly circle around the room, reveal a school library that is well-stocked with books and lined with bookcases and inspirational posters. The school library is indeed a place to be proud of!

Reel Librarians | The school librarian slips for the second time, in the middle of a group hug!

The school librarian slips for the second time, in the middle of a group hug!

In the next scene, Henry arrives at the hotel’s campaign headquarters, where he encounters Jack Stanton coming out of his bedroom, buttoning his shirt and putting on a tie. The librarian, Miss Walsh, then also comes out of bedroom and slips again as she’s straightening her own collar!

She stutters through thanking him for the opportunity to discuss the, uh, program. Looking embarrassed, she hurriedly grabs her things and walks out of the hotel room filled with people talking away.

Reel Librarians | Governor Stanton and Miss Walsh 'meet and greet' in his hotel room

Governor Stanton and Miss Walsh ‘meet and greet’ in his hotel room

Stanton then explains that Marianne Walsh is on the regional board of the Teachers Union. Henry, looking a bit shell-shocked, murmurs, “A teacher¬†AND a librarian.‚ÄĚ So that explains why Stanton slept with the school librarian, to curry favor with the Teachers Union. I’m sure the no-slip slip didn’t hurt¬†his mission.

Editor’s note: ¬†Yes, we can be both teachers and librarians, as librarians are also educators. That’s also why school librarians are also sometimes referred to as “teacher librarians.”

No one but Henry and Miss Walsh seem fazed by this hotel scene. It’s obvious that both of them are newbies at this political game, while it’s “business as usual” for everyone else. Miss Walsh is obviously not Governor Stanton’s first conquest!

Later, after Jack¬†tells Susan that the teacher was “inspirational,” Henry adds that she seemed like the “typical school board bureaucrat” to him. I suppose he could be right… if the typical school board bureaucrat also has a tendency to fall down a lot. Does Henry¬†say this to make the reel librarian seem dull to Susan, and thus cover for Jack? After all, reel librarians are known to be naughty… ūüėČ

The reel librarian also makes it into the film’s trailer!

Primary Colors – Trailer,” uploaded by UniversalMovies, April 18, 2011. Standard YouTube license.

In the end, Marianne Walsh fulfills the dual role of an Information Provider and as Comic Relief. As Information Provider, she introduces us to the school library and its adult literacy program, and comes across as warm and confident in the library around the adult learners. She also provides information to the audience about Stanton’s philandering ways. As Comic Relief, she makes the men around her — as well as the audience — laugh at her clumsiness and display of nerves (as well as her gullibility?).

Even though the scenes featuring the reel librarian collectively last less than 10 minutes, Allison Janney’s portrayal and slapstick antics serve to make Marianne Walsh a more memorable character. Janney is a very talented actress, and she manages to portray a myriad of emotions (including nervousness, pride, confidence, and vulnerability) in her short time on screen. She lands the film in the Class III category, films with supporting¬†or minor characters with a few¬†memorable or significant scenes.

Have you seen Primary Colors or rewatched it recently? (Or is it too soon to rewatch it?) If you have seen the movie, do you remember Allison Janney’s stumbling school librarian character? Please leave a comment and share. ūüôā

The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’

This week, I am analyzing another cult classic,¬†1986’s¬†Pretty in Pink, written by¬†by John Hughes¬†and starring Molly Ringwald as Andie, Andrew McCarthy as Blane, and Jon Cryer as Duckie. The plot is as basic as they come: ¬†the girl’s guy friend (Duckie) has a crush on the girl (Andie) while the girl has a crush on another boy (Blane). (The plot was recycled the next year¬†by Hughes in¬†Say Anything, with¬†two girls and a guy making up the film’s love triangle.)

Sixteen minutes into the film, we see a wide shot of the school library, and then the camera focuses in on Andie, who is typing into a computer.

Reel Librarians | The school library in 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

The school library in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Andie working on a school library computer

We’ve already seen her in class — wearing glasses, which is the prop shortcut¬†for “smart” — so we know she’s actually working on a school project and not just goofing around. She also types this herself, just to make it clear for the audience. Her computer is hijacked by an anonymous string of flirty messages. (Like texting! Only¬†with clunky, vintage artifacts called “desktop computers” ūüėČ )

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Computer flirting in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

And who is “meeting cute” with Andie¬†via computer? None other than Andie’s¬†crush,¬†Blane!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Love begins in the school library!

True love begins¬†in the library! ūüėČ

There is a reel librarian seen briefly in this short scene, but we don’t hear her speak — or even see her face! All we see is the back of her, an older woman in a flowery dress, leaning over and helping another student at a computer at the carrels. This reel librarian, unsurprisingly, gets no listing in the film’s credit, but she does fulfill the Information Provider role. This film lands in the Class IV category, films in which the librarian(s) plays a cameo role and is seen only briefly with little or no dialogue.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

School librarian in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

The real star of this scene — besides the sweet expressions on the young lovers’ faces as¬†they smile¬†at each other over the library carrels — has to be the advanced computer graphics!

Behold:

Reel Librarians | Computer graphics from 'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Computer graphics in ‘Pretty in Pink’ (1986)

What I enjoyed most about this one-minute scene is that it plays with almost no sound. No talking at all (true to libraries in the movies!), and no sounds except for the sound effects of typing on the keyboard.

The school library setting  in the film feels authentic to real life, with its rows of computer carrals, bookcases lining the walls, and the wooden card catalogs. It feels like a cheery school library, bright and welcoming, with classical touches like the bust statues scattered around the tops of the bookcases.

Looking through the filming locations in IMDb.com, I would guess it’s the school library from either the¬†John Burroughs Middle School or the¬†John Marshall High School, both located in Los Angeles. Each¬†school has been a¬†location for several films! This article on the Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations states that the John Marshall High School served as the exterior of¬†Andie‚Äôs ‚ÄėMeadowbrook High School‚Äô while the John Burroughs Middle School was used for the interiors.

 

You, Me, Dupree, and the Naughty Librarian

You, Me, and Dupree (2006) is an odd¬†film. 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.

It also does and does not include a reel librarian. Confusing? Stick with me.

The main plot is pretty simple: ¬†Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are newlyweds, and Carl’s best man, Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on their couch after he loses his job¬†(due to attending their wedding). To put it mildly, Dupree overstays his welcome.

*SPOILER ALERTS*

Almost 40 minutes into the film, Molly and Carl are arguing — again — about Dupree staying at their house. Molly is attempting to problem-solve the situation. HINT, it involves a reel librarian:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Molly:  What if he had a girlfriend?

Carl:¬† Good idea. But how’s a guy with no job, no car, living on somebody’s couch going to find any kind of¬† girlfriend?

Molly:  Our new librarian? She seems really nice.

Carl: ¬†You want to fix Dupree up with a ‘really nice librarian’? listen, I’ve known the guy for 25 years. I think he’s more into the young, foreign, non-librarian type.

Molly:¬† It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Carl:¬† I¬†wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Cut to next scene, after Molly shows Dupree the librarian’s picture in the faculty guide:

Dupree:¬† I’ll do it.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

That must be some school picture! We also learn the name of this “really nice librarian,” Mandy. And that she has a car. She is a catch! As is Dupree, obviously. ūüėČ

Molly and Carl come home after a date night to a tie on the front door handle and “Funky Cold Medina” playing inside.¬†Their reactions mirror their earlier conversation about hooking Dupree up with the school librarian: ¬†Carl is¬†worried as Molly gets¬†excited.

Carl:  Looks like Dupree brought his date home.

Molly:  What is a tie doing on our door?

Carl:  Molly, I think we ought to drive around the block a couple of times.

Molly:¬† Wait a minute. No way. Mandy’s a Mormon. She’s not the kind of girl to get busy on the first date.

Carl:  You fixed Dupree up with a Mormon librarian?

And Carl’s skepticism seems to be justified. I will just let the next three screenshots sum up Molly’s — and our —¬†introduction to Mandy, the Mormon librarian:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Dupree then runs out of the house with a pillow covering his private parts and thanks Molly “for the best night of my life” while Mandy, left alone in the house with all those open candle flames, sets the house on fire. Yes, that’s right. The Mormon librarian sets the house on fire.

That sure is some flammable symbolism, y’all.

The next shot has Dupree wrapped in a blanket and sitting on the sidewalk, talking to Mandy who’s in her car. All we see of her this time is the back of her curly hair. But we do get a nice view of her bumper sticker, which reads: ¬†DO THE DEWEY!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

‘Do the Dewey!’ bumper sticker on reel librarian’s car

Molly and Carl, understandably, have had enough, and they blame Dupree. (Why not blame the librarian?) But Dupree is cool with that, as he plans on moving in with Mandy. Timeline reminder:  He met her yesterday.

Molly:  You sure you got a place to go?

Dupree: ¬†Yeah, I got a place to go. I’m going to Mandy’s.

Carl:  The librarian.

Molly:¬† Don’t you think that’s kind of moving a little quickly, Dupree?

Dupree:¬† Maybe it is, but so what? Something special’s happening there. I’m not gonna fight it.

End result? Molly and Carl come home that night to find Dupree sitting in the rain, playing the song “Mandy” on his headphones. No points for correctly guessing what happened with his¬†plan to move in with the¬†librarian.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

And yet we are NOT DONE with Mandy the Mormon librarian. Almost an hour into the film, Dupree shows up to do a Career Day presentation at Molly’s school, thinking this will win Mandy back. Molly tries to let him down easy, making an excuse that Mandy “had a book that was lost.”

Every scene that mentions the reel librarian, we learn more about her. Thus far, we have learned:

  • she’s new at the school
  • she has a name, Mandy
  • she has a car
  • she’s Mormon
  • she’s ok with getting busy on the first date
  • she likes butter
  • she shaves her legs
  • she’s not to be trusted around¬†open flames
  • she has curly, reddish hair
  • she loves the Dewey Decimal system
  • she’s not ok with Dupree crashing on her couch one day after meeting (and sleeping) with him

And here are the final things we learn about Mandy:

Molly:¬† There’s something you need to know about Mandy. Well, it turns out she’s a total slut, sleeping with half the male faculty.

Dupree:  What? No.

Molly: ¬†I’m sorry.

Dupree:  My Mandy?

Molly: ¬†Yeah. I’m sorry, I would never have set you up with her if I would have known. Ever.

Dupree: ¬†There really aren’t any more Audrey Hepburns out there, are there? What a sucker.

This conversation continues when Molly comes home after school to find Dupree watching the end of Roman Holiday, the classic movie starring Audrey Hepburn.

Molly:  You really were serious about Audrey Hepburn.

Dupree:  She had it all. Style, grace, ethereal beauty. Just like I thought Mandy did.

Molly: ¬†I¬†don’t know. I have a hard time imagining Audrey Hepburn getting buttered up to “Funky Cold Medina.”

Dupree:¬† Really? I don’t.

All that carnage Mandy causes — setting the house on fire and breaking Dupree’s heart — and we still don’t ever get to properly see her. At first, that felt like yet another odd thing in an overall odd movie. Even though Mandy plays an arguably substantial role in the latter half of the film — she is part of the motivation for Dupree getting his act together, as he wants to win Mandy back (and he keeps trying, by the way, calling her later) — she is never technically, fully seen onscreen. We learn so much about this reel librarian, yet we never fully see her. We hear her name dozens of times, yet she doesn’t¬†even earn a screen credit!

So what purpose¬†does this reel librarian serve in this film? Since she is referenced so much — and we do see parts of her — I am going to classify this film in the Class III category, which includes films with¬†reel librarians as supporting or memorable minor characters.

For the role that “Mandy the Mormon librarian” fills, it has to be the Naughty Librarian:

  • She is definitely a flirtatious or sexually charged librarian, a seemingly conservative young woman who then “lets her hair down” outside the library.
  • Adding the detail¬†that she’s Mormon sets¬†up the “conservative” aspect¬†that immediately leads to the payoff that she is not-so-conservative after all.
  • Naughty Librarians also tend to have sexual undertones in their conversation. Since we never actually hear Mandy talk, the sexual undertones in this case come from her “Do the Dewey” bumper sticker!
  • Naughty Librarians also have a tendency to become violent or exhibit otherwise criminal behavior when their love/sex desires are repressed (see Personals, Maxie, Tomcats, etc.)… and Mandy happens to set a house on fire when their lovemaking session is interrupted. Just sayin’.
Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Screenshot from ‘You, Me and Dupree’ (2006)

In this light, knowing that she fulfills the Naughty Librarian character type, it makes more sense about why we never actually see her face onscreen. That would ruin the fantasy, right? Naughty Librarians are fantasies — sometimes even violent fantasies — and without actually seeing her onscreen (or rather, just parts of her, like her bare leg and curly hair), viewers are free to conjure¬†whatever image they have that fulfills their own personal “really nice librarian” fantasy.

So while this reel librarian portrayal is disappointing, to say the least — and equal-opportunity offensive to librarians, school teachers, Mormons, and Audrey Hepburn — it does serve up some interesting twists to the¬†Naughty Librarian character type. Not enough for me to recommend the film — but that’s why I watch and analyze these reel librarian movies films, so you don’t necessarily have to.¬†You’re welcome.

Final lessons from You, Me, and Dupree? Stay safe, y’all.¬†ūüėČ

In Dewey’s country

I was able to catch the 2007 TV movie, In God’s Country, recently on my cable subscription. It’s a film I saw ages ago, so I already had notes — but I hadn’t taken screenshots at the time. It’s interesting¬†to go over notes I wrote years ago, to see what I focused on then and if the notes differ to how I view the film now.

Reel Librarians  |  Notes from 'In God's Country' (2007)

Initial notes for ‘In God’s Country’ (2007)

This Lifetime TV movie — which has¬†been renamed The Ultimate Sin —¬†is an earnest but ultimately mediocre effort taking aim at a big issue, the issue of young women who feel trapped in polygamous religious communities.¬†Kelly Rowan¬†stars as¬†Judith Leavitt — her last name foreshadows the plot! — who “leaves it,” leaving her community, her house, and her life as she has known it. She takes her five children with her and tries to start fresh.¬†Of course,¬†they struggle to adjust living ‚Äúon the outside.‚ÄĚ

The children particularly struggle at public school (Judith reveals that she wasn’t allowed to go¬†to school past grade 7). In one short scene a little over an hour¬†into the TV movie, Judith’s 12-year-old daughter, Alice, visits the school library. Alice wants a book on astronomy in order to teach the names of the stars to her mom. She goes up to the library counter, where the librarian (Agi Gallus) is checking out books to another student.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'In God's Country' (TV, 2007)

Librarian:  Can I help you?

Alice: ¬†I’m looking for a book on astronomy.

Librarian: ¬†Astronomy is in the 520’s.

Alice:  [shakes her head, clueless]

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'In God's Country' (TV, 2007)

Librarian: ¬†520’s. Dewey Decimal system.

Librarian: [Hands stack of books to the other girl.] Millie, can you show her for me?

Millie: All the books are numbered. You just have to look at the spines. I know where the astronomy ones are because I like astronomy, too. Actually, I have a telescope.

Alice:  You have a telescope at home?

Millie:  You should come and see it.

The librarian here is friendly — and it’s nice to see a reel librarian in a bright color! — but as clueless about service as much as Alice is clueless about the Dewey Decimal system. She essentially passes off her reference duties to a young student, who has to explain the classification system to Alice. Peer learning can be great, but there was no good reason that the librarian couldn’t step out from behind her desk and do her job. Of course, the plot required that Alice make a friend, so I understand in terms of plot why the reference duty got passed on to Millie. But in terms of real life, this is NOT a great¬†example of a reference interview!

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'In God's Country' (TV, 2007)

Ultimately, this reel librarian ends up in the Class IV category, in which librarians appear only briefly with little or no dialogue. The librarian in this film is onscreen less than a minute, and fulfills the basic Information Provider role. She doesn’t provide that much useful information to Alice, of course, but the librarian also provides information to the audience. She is yet another example of how the “real world” doesn’t really understand what goes on in these kinds of communities and the impact of different social and educational structures.

At least the script writers¬†got the Dewey Decimal system right, as this system of classification is the most common for school and public libraries. They also got the 520’s section right, as this is the general call number area¬†for astronomy.

There is also a scene involving the 520’s — one with a decidedly less favorable ending — in UHF¬†(1989) and starring Conan the Librarian. Read all about that scene here in this post. When I relayed this tidbit to my husband, he laughed, and said that I might be the only person to have made¬†a connection between this TV movie and Conan the Librarian.

In Dewey we trust, right? ūüėČ