The protagonist or other major characters are librarians, but the librarian’s occupation does not directly affect the plot.
*Spoiler Alert* The following annotations may contain important plot details.
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Details: Dir. George Pal. Perf. Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, John Ericson. MGM, 1964. Based on the novel The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney.
Synopsis: Mysterious Dr. Lao (Randall) brings a circus to a Western frontier town. Local newspaperman Ed Cunningham (Ericson) is in love with the local teacher/librarian, Angela, (Eden), who resists his advances.
Role Call: Barbara Eden as Angela Benedict—Liberated Librarian (female)
Admissions (TV, 2004)
Details: Dir. Melissa Painter. Perf. Lauren Ambrose, Amy Madigan, Christopher Lloyd, Taylor Roberts. Hart Sharp Video, 2004. Based on the play by Dawn O’Leary.
Synopsis: Socially awkward and intelligent teen Evie (Ambrose) sacrifices herself and her writing talent for her autistic sister (Roberts). Evie gets a job at the library after graduating high school.
Role Call: Lauren Ambrose as Evie Brighton—Liberated Librarian (female); Jennifer Schweickert as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
The Age of Adaline (2015)
Details: Dir. Lee Toland Krieger. Perf. Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn. Lionsgate, 2015.
Synopsis: Adaline (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. After decades of living alone, she meets a man, Ellis (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.
Role Call: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman—Liberated Librarian (female); Anjali Jay as Cora—Information Provider (female); Hiro Kanagawa as Kenneth—Information Provider (male); An uncredited female as a librarian—Information Provider (female)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Details: Dir. John Huston. Perf. Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe. MGM, 1950. Based on the novel by W. R. Burnett.
Synopsis: Ex-convict “Doc” (Jaffe), who was an assistant librarian in prison, plans a big jewelry heist in this film noir.
Role Call: Sam Jaffe as “Doc” Erwin Riedenschneider—Male Librarian as a Failure
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
Details: Dir. Wayne Wang. Perf. AnnaSophia Robb, Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie Saint, Dave Matthews. 20th Century Fox, 2005. Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo.
Synopsis: A family film about a 10-year-old girl (Robb) who moves to a small town with her dad, a preacher (Daniels). After adopting a stray dog, Winn-Dixie, she makes friends with a group of eclectic townspeople, including the public librarian Miss Franny (Saint).
Role Call: Eva Marie Saint as Miss Franny—Atypical Portrayal
Before Night Falls (2000)
Details: Dir. Julian Schnabel. Perf. Javier Bardem, Olivier Martinez, Johnny Depp. Fine Line Features, 2000. Based on Reinaldo Arenas’s memoir.
Synopsis: The life of Cuban writer and poet Reinaldo Arenas (Bardem), who struggles against the Cuban revolution and government censorship of his writings. As a young man, he enters a young writers contest sponsored by the National Library and wins a job at the Library.
Role Call: Javier Bardem as Reinaldo Arenas—Atypical Portrayal
Details: Dir. Phillips Smalley & Lois Weber. Perf. Philip Hubbard, Margaret McWade, Claire Windsor. Lois Weber Productions, 1921.
Synopsis: In this silent film, a young librarian, Amelia (Windsor), is courted by a wealthy young man and a poor minister.
Role Call: Claire Windsor as Amelia Griggs—Spirited Young Girl; Uncredited female–Information Provider (female)
Bound by Honor, aka Blood In, Blood Out… Bound by Honor (1993)
Details: Dir. Taylor Hackford. Perf. Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt. Hollywood Pictures, 1993.
Synopsis: A saga of three Latinos in Los Angeles, two half-brothers (Borrego & Bratt) and their bi-racial cousin, Miklo (Chapa). They belong to the “Vatos Locos” gang, and the film shows how violence and drugs affect their lives. Miklo is in prison for the second time, after his left leg gets shot by his cousin (Bratt), who has become a cop. Because of this, Miklo gets assigned to the law library.
Role Call: Damian Chapa as Miklo—Liberated Librarian; Richard Masur as Prison Librarian (uncredited)—Male Librarian as a Failure
Details: Dir. Pat O’Connor. Perf. Helen Mirren, John Lynch. Warner Bros./Goldcrest, 1984. Based on the novel by Bernard MacLaverty.
Synopsis: A young man (Lynch) struggles to find himself in war-torn Northern Ireland, and he falls in love with the widow (Mirren) of a man killed by the IRA. Lynch first notices Mirren at the public library, where she works, and he visits a few more times.
Role Call: Helen Mirren as Marcella—Atypical Portrayal
Chances Are (1989)
Details: Dir. Emile Ardolino. Perf. Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey, Jr., Ryan O’Neal, Mary Stuart Masterson, Christopher McDonald. TriStar, 1989.
Synopsis: A comedy about reincarnation—a woman’s (Shepherd) husband is killed in the 1960s, and she believes his soul has come back in the body of her daughter’s boyfriend, Alex (Downey, Jr.). Downey, Jr., who is a college library assistant.
Role Call: Robert Downey, Jr. as Alex Finch—Liberated Librarian (male); Kathleen Freeman as Mrs. Handy—Comic Relief (female)
Enough Said (2013)
Details: Dir. Nicole Holofcener. Perf. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2013.
Synopsis: A quirky slice-of-life glimpse into the budding romance between two middle-aged, single parents. Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse, and Albert (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.
Role Call: James Gandolfini as Albert — Atypical portrayal; Uncredited male as Bob — Information Provider (male)
The FBI Story (1959)
Details: Dir. Mervyn LeRoy. Perf. James Stewart, Vera Miles, Murray Hamilton. Warner Bros., 1959.
Synopsis: The history of the FBI unfolds through one agent’s (Stewart) perspective. His wife (Miles) was a public librarian.
Role Call: Vera Miles as Lucy Ballard—Spirited Young Girl; Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Paul Schrader. Perf. Joseph Fiennes, Ray Liotta, Gretchen Mol. Moonstar Entertainment, 1999.
Synopsis: “An affair between a cabana boy and the young wife of a sinister politician triggers a 16-year vendetta between the two men.” We learn late in the film that the wife volunteers at the local library.
Role Call: Gretchen Mol as Ella Brice — Liberated Librarian; Catherine Hayos as Librarian — Information Provider (female); Unidentified female — Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Wim Wenders. Perf. Frederic Forrest, Peter Boyle, Marilu Henner, Lydia Lei. Zoetrope Studios, 1982. Based on the novel by Joe Gores.
Synopsis: Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett (Forrest) gets involved in a real-life mystery involving a woman’s disappearance. His main squeeze is a sexy librarian (Marilu Henner).
Role Call: Marilu Henner as Kit Conger—Naughty Librarian (female); Liz Roberson as Lady in the Library—Spinster Librarian
The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)
Details: Dir. Volker Schlindorff. Perf. Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern. Cinecom, 1990. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood.
Synopsis: In this dystopia tale, 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.
Role Call: Natasha Richardson as Kate/Offred—Atypical Portrayal
Heart and Souls (1993)
Details: Dir. Ron Underwood. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Sizemore, Elisabeth Shue. Universal, 1993. Based on a short film by Gregory Hansen.
Synopsis: Four people die in a bus crash, and their souls stick by a newborn child and watch him grow up. The now-grown man (Downey, Jr.) helps them clear up the loose ends in their own lives—as well as his own. Grodin, one of the angels, was a librarian.
Role Call: Charles Grodin as Harrison Winslow—Liberated Librarian (male)
Love Story (1970)
Details: Dir. Arthur Hiller. Perf. Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley, Ray Milland. Paramount, 1970.
Synopsis: A Harvard law student and jock (O’Neal) falls in love with a Radcliffe music major (MacGraw). They first meet at the Radcliffe library, where MacGraw works as a library assistant.
Role Call: Ali MacGraw as Jenny Cavalleri—Spirited Young Girl
Major League (1989)
Details: Dir. David S. Ward. Perf. Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Rene Russo. Paramount, 1989.
Synopsis: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians purposely puts together a team of bad players. When the players find out, they start winning to spite her. Rene Russo plays Lynn, a former athlete and the ex-wife of catcher Jake Taylor (Berenger).
Role Call: Rene Russo as Lynn Wells—Atypical Portrayal; Three uncredited males—Information Providers (male); Two uncredited females—Information Providers (female)
The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Details: Dir. Ronald Neame. Perf. Clifton Webb, Gloria Graham, Stephen Boyd, Josephine Griffin. Sumar/Fox, 1956. Based on the book by Ewen Montagu.
Synopsis: Based on a true story of a successful WWII British tactic to divert the enemy’s forces in Sicily. A British intelligence team uses a dead man as a decoy, complete with faked documents that suggest an alternate British attack. Gloria Grahame plays a librarian who helps convince the enemy that the man’s identity is real.
Role Call: Gloria Grahame as Lucy Sherwood—Naughty Librarian/Information Provider (female); Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Paul Aaron. Perf. Glenn Close, Mandy Patinkin, Ruth Gordon, Valerie Curtin. Orion, 1985. Based on the novel by Jack Finney.
Synopsis: A couple (Close & Patinkin) move into a new apartment, where the ghost of a 1920s starlet still resides. The ghost, Maxie, takes over Close’s body. Patinkin plays a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library.
Role Call: Mandy Patinkin as Nick Chaney—Liberated Librarian (male); Valerie Curtin as Miss Ophelia Sheffer—Naughty Librarian (female)
Men of Honor (2000)
Details: Dir. George Tillman Jr. Perf. Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Charlize Theron, Aunjanue Ellis, Hal Holbrook. 20th Century Fox, 2000.
Synopsis: Based on the true story of the first African American U.S. Navy diver (Gooding, Jr.). He goes to the local library for tutoring assistance, and a young library assistant (Ellis) helps him.
Role Call: Aunjanue Ellis as Jo—Spirited Young Girl; Demene E. Hall as Mrs. Biddle—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Marc Munden. Perf. Christina Ricci, John Simm, Kyle MacLachlan, John Hurt. Feelgood Films, 2002.
Synopsis: 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.
Role Call: John Simm as Frank — Liberated Librarian (male)
Movie Movie (1978)
Details: Dir. Stanley Donen. Perf. George C. Scott, Harry Hamlin, Trish Van Devere, Eli Wallach. Warner Bros., 1978.
Synopsis: A twin bill of 1930s spoofs, “Dynamite Hands” and “Baxter’s Beauties of 1933.” “Dynamite Hands,” a spoof of boxing movies, shows how delivery boy Joey (Hamlin) becomes a boxer because his sister needs an eye operation. His girlfriend, Betsy McGuire (Van Devere), works at the New York Public Library.
Role Call: Trish Van Devere as Betsy McGuire—Liberated Librarian (female)
My Science Project (1985)
Details: Dir. Jonathan Butuel. Perf. John Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Fisher Stevens, Danielle von Zerneck, Raphael Sbarge. Buena Vista, 1985.
Synopsis: In search of a science project, Michael (Stockwell) breaks into a military base and finds a strange glowing orb. The orb wreaks havoc when it turns the school into a battlefield of the past, present, and future, and Michael and his friends must find a way to stop it. Stockwell goes to the library to find out information on time travel, and he gets help from Sherman (Sbarge), the school nerd and know-it-all who works in the school library.
Role Call: Raphael Sbarge as Sherman—Liberated Librarian (male); Linda Hoy as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Herbert Wise. Perf. Tom Conti, Richard Briers, Penelope Keith, David Troughton, Fiona Walker, Penelope Wilton. Thames Television, 1977. Adapted from the trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn.
Synopsis: A miniseries, adapted by Ayckbourn from his trilogy of plays, with each episode depicting the same six characters over the same weekend, with the same events seen from different perspectives and in different parts of the house. Norman, the title character and reel librarian, is having an affair with his sister-in-law, Annie, and everyone in the family — including Norman’s wife and Annie’s sister, Ruth! — finds out about it one weekend. Norman describes himself in one episode as “Norman Dewars — gigolo and assistant librarian.”
Role Call: Tom Conti as Norman — Naughty Librarian (male)
Peeping Tom, aka Face of Fear and Fotographer of Panic (1960)
Details: Dir. Michael Powell. Perf. Carl Boehm, Anna Massey, Moira Shearer, Maxine Audley. Astor, 1960.
Synopsis: A young man (Boehm) uses a handheld movie camera to film the dying expressions of girls he murders. Helen (Massey) is a young woman who befriends him, and she reveals that she works at the public library.
Role Call: Anna Massey as Helen Stephens—Spirited Young Girl
Pump Up the Volume (1992)
Details: Dir. Allan Moyle. Perf. Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Jeff Chamberlain. New Line Cinema, 1992.
Synopsis: New high school student Mark (Slater) uses a short-wave radio to broadcast as pirate DJ Hard Harry, incurring the wrath of the principal. Student library assistant Nora (Mathis) investigates the DJ’s identity and finds out about Mark through the book he checks out.
Role Call: Samantha Mathis as Nora Diniro—Spirited Young Girl
Racing with the Moon (1984)
Details: Dir. Richard Benjamin. Perf. Sean Penn, Elizabeth McGovern, Nicolas Cage. Paramount, 1984.
Synopsis: Two young men (Penn & 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 (McGovern), who works part-time at the local public library.
Role Call: Elizabeth McGovern as Caddie Winger—Spirited Young Girl; Patricia Allison as Mrs. Spangler—Information Provider (female)
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Details: Dir. Martin Brest. Perf. Al Pacino, Chris O’Donnell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gabrielle Anwar. Universal, 1992. Based on the novel by Giovanni Arpino.
Synopsis: A coming-of-age story about a young prep school boy (O’Donnell) and an alcoholic blind man (Pacino). O’Donnell is a student library assistant at the private school.
Role Call: Chris O’Donnell as Charlie Simms—Liberated Librarian (male)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Details: Dir. Frank Darabont. Perf. Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton. Castle Rock-Columbia, 1994. Based on the short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King.
Synopsis: Young banker Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife. Andy maintains his innocence and plots to escape. Andy works as an assistant in the prison library and becomes friends with the prison librarian, Brooks.
Role Call: Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne—Liberated Librarian (male); James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen—Male Librarian as a Failure
A Simple Plan (1998)
Details: Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton. Paramount, 1998. Based on the novel by Scott B. Smith.
Synopsis: Two brothers (Paxton & Thornton) and a friend (Briscoe) find $4 million when they discover a wreck of a plane. Keeping the money a secret affects their lives in unexpected ways. Paxton’s wife (Fonda) works at the local public library.
Role Call: Bridget Fonda as Sarah Mitchell—Liberated Librarian (female)
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
Details: Dir. Joseph Ruben. Perf. Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson. 20th Century Fox, 1991. Based on the novel by Nancy Price.
Synopsis: Sara Waters (Roberts) fakes her own death to escape her abusive husband (Bergin), and he comes after her once he discovers the deception. When Sara relocates to a small town, she starts working at the public library.
Role Call: Julia Roberts as Sara Waters/Laura Burney—Liberated Librarian (female)
Spencer’s Mountain (1963)
Details: Dir. Delmer Daves. Perf. Henry Fonda, Maureen O’Hara, James MacArthur, Wally Cox, Virginia Gregg. Warner Bros., 1963. Based on the novel by Earl Hamner, Jr.
Synopsis: The source of the TV series “The Waltons,” this film follows a family and rural community in the mountains. In order to raise money to send Clayboy (MacArthur) to college, the town’s preacher (Cox) and schoolteacher (Gregg) convince the local businessman to build a small library and hire Clayboy as the librarian.
Role Call: James MacArthur as Clayboy Spencer—Liberated Librarian/Naughty Librarian (male)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
Details: Dir. Martin Ritt. Perf. Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker. Paramount, 1965. Based on the novel by John le Carré.
Synopsis: Spy Alec Leamus (Burton) pretends to quit the Secret Service and defect to the Communists. As part of his cover as a failed spy, he starts work as a librarian at the Institute of Psychical Research. Another librarian, Nan (Bloom), befriends him and joins in his defection.
Role Call: Richard Burton as Alec Leamus—Male Librarian as a Failure; Claire Bloom as Nan Perry—Liberated Librarian (female); Anne Blake as Miss Crail—Information Provider (female); Michael Ripper as Mr. Lofthouse—Information Provider (male)
Strike Up the Band (1940)
Details: Dir. Busby Berkley. Perf. Judy Garland, Andy Rooney. MGM, 1940.
Synopsis: High schooler Jimmy Connors (Rooney) wants to start a dance orchestra band to compete in a national radio contest. Best gal pal Mary (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 working at the library.
Role Call: Judy Garland as Mary Holden—Spirited Young Girl
The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)
Details: Dir. Ernest Morris. Perf. Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri, Dermot Walsh. Danziger Productions, 1960. Based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Synopsis: A mild-mannered librarian, Edgar (Laurence Payne), becomes obsessed with Betty (Adrienne Corri) and kills his friend, Carl (Dermot Walsh), when he discovers that Betty and Carl have become lovers. There is a brief scene toward the end of the film when Betty comes to visit Edgar in the library.
Role Call: Laurence Payne as Edgar Marsh — Male Librarian as a Failure / Naughty Librarian (male)
They Might Be Giants (1971)
Details: Dir. Anthony Harvey. Perf. George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, Lester Rawlins. Universal, 1971. Based on the play by James Goldman.
Synopsis: A psychotic paranoid (Scott), who believes he’s Sherlock Holmes, and his psychiatrist, Dr. Watson (Woodward), embark on an adventure to find his nemesis, Moriarty. Holmes’s librarian friend (Gilford) helps them on their quest.
Role Call: Jack Gilford as William Peabody—Liberated Librarian (male)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
Details: Dir. Robert Schwentke. Perf. Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston. New Line Cinema, 2009. Based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger.
Synopsis: Henry, a librarian (Eric Bana) time travels in and out of a 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.”
Role Call: Eric Bana as Henry — Atypical Librarian (male) ; Carly Street as Librarian — Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Roy Boulting. Perf. Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Billie Whitelaw. Charter Film Productions, 1968.
Synopsis: Martin (Bennett) is a troubled young man with an obsessive mother, a dismissive stepfather, and a brother with Down’s Syndrome who lives in an institution. Martin becomes fixated on Susan Harper (Mills), a young library assistant studying to be a teacher. There are a few scenes set in the public library with Susan and the head librarian, Mr. Groom.
Role Call: Hayley Mills as Susan Harper — Spirited Young Girl ; Timothy Bateson as Mr. Groom the Librarian — Anti-Social Male Librarian
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Details: Dir. Bryon Haskin. Perf. Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite. Paramount, 1953. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells.
Synopsis: Martians invade Earth! Sylvia Van Buren (Robinson), who teaches library science courses, teams up with the hero-scientist (Barry) in order to defeat the aliens.
Role Call: Ann Robinson as Sylvia Van Buren—Liberated Librarian (female)
Details: Dir. David Hare. Perf. Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, Stuart Wilson, Tim McInnerny. MGM/UA Entertainment, 1985.
Synopsis: A young man (McInnerny) commits suicide in front of a woman (Redgrave) he just met the night before. We learn that he had gone to the British Library for research, and the Deputy Librarian (Dench) informed him that they do not lend books except under special circumstances.
Role Call: Judi Dench as Marcia Pilborough—Atypical Portrayal
Where the Heart Is (2000)
Details: Dir. Matt Williams. Perf. Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing, Joan Cusack, James Frain. 20th Century Fox, 2000. Based on the novel by Billie Letts.
Synopsis: After a pregnant teen’s (Portman) boyfriend abandons her in a small town’s Wal-Mart, she rebuilds her life and makes friends with eccentric townsfolk. She falls in love with a young man (Frain), who runs the local public library and cares for his alcoholic sister, the real librarian.
Role Call: James Frain as Forney Hull—Liberated Librarian (male)
Wonder Man (1945)
Details: Dir. H. Bruce Humberstone. Perf. Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Donald Woods. Goldwyn/RKO, 1945. Based on the short story by Arthur Sheekman.
Synopsis: Nightclub singer Buster Dingle (Kaye) gets killed by a mob boss, and his spirit enters his identical twin, Edwin (Kaye). Edwin, a bookworm writing a history book, gets involved with a young and attractive librarian (Mayo).
Role Call: Virginia Mayo as Ellen Shavley—Spirited Young Girl
Details: Dir. Lewis Seiler. Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Billy Halop, Gale Page, Henry Travers. Warner Bros., 1939. Based on the play “Chalked Out” by Lewis E. Lawes and Jonathan Finn.
Synopsis: When a young man goes to prison, he becomes friends with the old timer who runs the prison library.
Role Call: Henry Travers as Pop, the prison librarian — Information Provider (male) and Male Librarian as a Failure ; Billy Halop as Johnnie Stone, prison library assistant — Liberated Librarian (male)