These are films in which the librarian(s) plays a secondary role, ranging from a supporting character to a minor character with perhaps only a few lines in one memorable or significant scene.
*Spoiler Alert* The following annotations may contain important plot details.
#s | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
2 Brothers and a Bride, aka A Foreign Affair (2003):
Details: Dir. Helmut Schleppi. Perf. Tim Blake Nelson, David Arquette, Emily Mortimer. Screen Media Films, 2003.
Synopsis: Two brothers (Tim Blake Nelson & David Arquette) run a farm. After their mother dies, they travel to Russia in search of a bride to help cook and clean. In an early scene, the elder brother, Jake (Tim Blake Nelson), goes to the public library to look at newspaper ads, and he spots an ad for mail-order brides. He goes to the reference desk and asks to go on the internet. The librarian helps him but is quite suspicious of his behavior.
Role Call: Allyce Beasley as Library Lady—Information Provider (female)
Related post: Oh, she may be weary in ‘2 Brothers and a Bride’
Details: Dir. Stephen Gaghan. Perf. Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Zooey Deschanel. Buena Vista, 2002. Suggested by the novel Adam’s Fall by Sean Desmond.
Synopsis: College senior Katie (Katie Holmes) deals with exams, finishing her thesis, job interviews, and a cop (Benjamin Bratt) investigating the disappearance of her ex-boyfriend (Charlie Hunnam). Then Katie starts seeing her boyfriend again around campus—is she hallucinating, or is he stalking her? A few scenes highlight Mousy Julie, a student library assistant, who provides insights into how Katie attracts male attention.
Role Call: Melanie Lynskey as Mousy Julie—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female); Joan McBride as Library Assistant—Information Provider (female); Robert Burns as Archivist—Information Provider (male)
Related post: An ‘abandon’-ed reel librarian
Agnes of God (1985):
Details: Dir. Norman Jewison. Perf. Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly. Columbia, 1985. Based on the play by John Pielmeier.
Synopsis: A psychiatrist (Jane Fonda) investigates the mysterious death of a newborn child in a convent. An archivist librarian (Victor Desy) helps Fonda locate the convent’s blueprints in the National Library Archives of Quebec.
Role Call: Victor Desy as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
All the President’s Men (1976):
Details: Dir. Alan J. Pakula. Perf. Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander. Warner Bros., 1976. Based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
Synopsis: This film follows the Watergate scandal uncovered by reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford). After several attempts by the reporters to locate information, a library clerk at the Library of Congress helps by giving them library checkout slips.
Role Call: James Murtaugh as Congress Librarian; Jaye Stewart as Male Librarian; Ron Menchine as Post Librarian—all Information Providers (male); Jamie Smith-Jackson as Post Librarian and Unnamed woman as White House Librarian (uncredited) — both Information Providers (female)
Related post: All the president’s librarians in ‘All the President’s Men’
Amityville II: The Possession (1982):
Details: Dir. Damiano Damiani. Perf. James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Jack Magner. Orion, 1982. Based on the book by Hans Holzer.
Synopsis: In this prequel to the Amityville Horror, a family moves into a house with a scary past—and the oldest son becomes possessed by an evil spirit. An archivist/librarian provides information about the house to a priest (James Olson).
Role Call: Petra Lea as Mrs. Greer — Information Provider (female)
Related post: Amityville horrors in ‘The Amityville Horror’ and ‘Amityville II’
Angel’s Dance (1999):
Details: Dir. David L. Corley. Perf. James Belushi, Kyle Chandler, Sheryl Lee. York Entertainment, 1999.
Synopsis: Tony (Kyle Chandler) trains to become a Mafia hit man and has to kill an innocent young woman, Angel (Sheryl Lee), to complete his training—but he keeps bungling the job. Angel goes to the library for books on self-defense.
Role Call: Caroline Alexander as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Archangel (2005, TV movie):
Details: Dir. Jon Jones. Perf. Daniel Craig, Ekaterina Rednikova, Gabriel Macht. BBC, 2005.
Synopsis: In this British TV movie, Daniel Craig stars as a British professor who travels to Russia and investigates mysterious incidents surrounding the life and death of Joseph Stalin. He encounters two librarians at the Russia State Library early in the film, and two clerks at a Community Party headquarters/archives in a later scene.
Role Call: Elena Butenko as Older Librarian, Kseniya Entelis as Yelena, Tatjena Lukashenkova as Clerk — all Information Providers (female) ; Juris Strenga as Tsarev — Information Provider (male)
Related post: ‘Archangel,’ a study in contrasts
As Young as You Feel (1951):
Details: Dir. Harmon Jones. Perf. Monty Woolley, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe. 20th Century Fox, 1951.
Synopsis: In this comedy, John Hodges (Monty Woolley) is forced to retire from Acme Printing at age 65. He then impersonates the president of the parent corporation in order to change the policy, and complications ensue. In the short library scene, a librarian helps Hodges find the name of the company president.
Role Call: Carol Savage as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Ask the Dust (2006):
Details: Dir. Robert Towne. Perf. Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, Idina Menzel, Eileen Atkins. Paramount, 2006. Based on the novel by John Fante.
Synopsis: In this romantic drama set in Depression-era L.A., struggling writer Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell), an Italian-American immigrant, meets and falls in love with Mexican immigrant Camilla (Salma Hayek). There is a brief flashback scene set in a public library, in which a young librarian first flirts with Bandini and then rejects him based on the name on his library card.
Role Call: Natasha Staples as Denver Librarian — Information Provider and Naughty Librarian (female)
Related post: Reader poll write-up, Spring 2018: ‘Ask the Dust’
Avengers: Endgame (2019):
Details: Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Perf. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin. Marvel Studios, 2019.
Synopsis: The Avengers face Thanos for the final time, after Thanos wiped out half of the galaxy’s population at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Wong survived the snap and plays a crucial role in the final battle scene. There are no scenes in Kamar-Taj or at the Kamar-Taj monastery library.
Role Call: Benedict Wong as Wong — Information Provider (male) and Comic Relief (male)
Related post: First impressions: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (2019) ; A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Three
Avengers: Infinity War (2018):
Details: Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Perf. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios, 2018.
Synopsis: The Avengers face Thanos and try to stop him from collecting all the Infinity Wars in his quest to wipe out half of the galaxy’s population. Wong returns in this film in an early action sequence in New York and ultimately defeats Cull Obsidian. There are no scenes in Kamar-Taj or at the Kamar-Taj monastery library, but Wong (Benedict Wong) displays his librarian skills to help set up the stakes — and the plot of the entire movie — to members of the Avengers, as well as to the audience.
Role Call: Benedict Wong as Wong — Information Provider (male) and Comic Relief (male)
Related post: First impressions: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ ; A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Three
Big Bully (1996):
Details: Dir. Steve Miner. Perf. Rick Moranis, Tom Arnold, Julianne Phillips. Warner Bros., 1996.
Synopsis: In this comedy, a writer (Rick Moranis) returns to his Minnesota hometown to teach a creative writing course to middle schoolers. On his first day, he revisits the school library, and the librarian remembers how long his book is overdue.
Role Call: Norma MacMillan as Mrs. Rumpert—Comic Relief (female)
The Big Sleep (1946):
Details: Dir. Howard Hawks. Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone, Martha Vickers. Warner Bros., 1946. Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler.
Synopsis: Complex crime story with private eye Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) 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 librarian also features in the film’s trailer.
Role Call: Carole Douglas as Librarian at Hollywood Public Library—Information Provider (female); Uncredited female in film’s trailer—Information Provider (female)
Billy Elliot (2000):
Details: Dir. Stephen Daldry. Perf. Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Julie Walters. Universal, 2000.
Synopsis: Set during the 1984 Miner’s Strike in northern England, 11-year-old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) wants to become a ballet dancer, even though his family expects him to be interested in boxing and become a miner. In one short scene, Billy goes to the Durham Co. Library bookmobile and steals a book on ballet because the librarian won’t let him check it out on a junior ticket.
Role Call: Carol McGuigan as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
Details: Dir. Stephen Norrington. Perf. Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright. New Line Cinema, 1998.
Synopsis: Blade (Wesley Snipes), a half-vampire, is on a mission to destroy vampires, while vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is on a mission to destroy the human race. Blade tortures the Record Keeper, who confesses he helped Deacon in translating the Vampire Bible’s prophecy.
Role Call: Eric Edwards as Pearl, the Record Keeper—Information Provider (male)
Blade Runner 2049 (2017):
Details: Dir. Denis Villeneuve. Perf. Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto. Warner Bros., 2017.
Synopsis: In this sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner, Ryan Gosling stars as K, a police officer assigned to track down a rogue replicant. He begins by going to the Wallace Corporation’s Earth Headquarter archives to track down a suspect’s DNA and records; a clerk leads him to the files.
Role Call: Tómas Lemarquis as File Clerk (reel archivist) — Information Provider (male)
Related post: Reel archivist in ‘Blade Runner 2049’
Details: Dir. Lance Young. Perf. Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp. Triumph Releasing Co., 1997.
Synopsis: Joseph (Craig Sheffer) and Maria (Sheryl Lee) see a mysterious sex therapist and doctor, Baltazar (Terence Stamp), for help with their sex lives. In one short scene, Baltazar walks into a large, grey stone library and speaks to a librarian, Eva, about a rare book.
Role Call: Lois Chiles as Eva—Atypical Portrayal
Bon Voyage! (1962):
Details: Dir. James Neilson. Perf. Fred MacMurray, Jane Wyman, Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley. Buena Vista/Walt Disney, 1962. Based on the novel by Marrijane & Joseph Hayes.
Synopsis: A Disney comedy about an American family on a “dream” vacation to Europe. In one scene, the father (Fred MacMurray) goes to the ship’s library and is greeted enthusiastically by the Ship’s Librarian.
Role Call: James Millhollin as Ship’s Librarian—Comic Relief (male)
Related post: ‘Bon voyage’ to the ship’s librarian
Borstal Boy (2000):
Details: Dir. Peter Sheridan. Perf. Shawn Hatosy, Danny Dyer, Michael York. Strand Releasing, 2000. Based on the autobiography by Brendan Behan.
Synopsis: Based upon the autobiography of (in)famous Irish writer and activist Brendan Behan, focusing on his time in a borstal (a kind of youth prison/labor camp in the UK) during WWII. A prison librarian shows up periodically throughout the film, and introduces him to the works of Oscar Wilde, a “fellow Irishman, a fellow jailbird and rebel.”
Role Call: Arthur Riordan as Librarian — Information Provider (male), and Comic Relief (male)
Related post: A ‘borstal’ kind of librarian
Boston Blackie and the Law (1946):
Details: Dir. D. Ross Lederman. Perf. Chester Morris, Trudy Marshall, Constance Dowling. Columbia Pictures, 1946. Based on the series and characters by Jack Boyle.
Synopsis: Reformed thief Blackie performs a magic show in a women’s prison, and one of the inmates, Dinah, escapes during the “disappearing booth” trick. Blackie then goes to a public library to research newspaper articles about Dinah — and he and his friend encounter a shushing librarian!
Role Call: Maudie Prickett as Miss Burton, Librarian (uncredited) — Spinster Librarian
Related post: ‘Boston Blackie’ and the shushing librarian
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961):
Details: Dir. Blake Edwards. Perf. Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Mickey Rooney, Patricia Neal. Paramount, 1961. Based on the novella by Truman Capote.
Synopsis: Free spirit Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) finds love with writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). There are a couple of scenes set in the New York Public Library; in one of those scenes, Varjak autographs the copy of his book in the library, which the librarian exclaims is “defacing public property!”
Role Call: Elvia Allman as Librarian—Comic Relief (female); Uncredited male—Information Provider (male)
Related post: Reader poll write-up, Spring 2022 | A reel librarian gets shushed in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)
Cain and Mabel (1936):
Details: Dir. Lloyd Bacon. Perf. Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Allen Jenkins. Cosmopolitan/Warner Bros., 1936.
Synopsis: A prizefighter (Clark Gable) and a struggling Broadway actress (Marion Davies) fall in love. In one scene, they meet at the library to plan their elopement and startle a couple of librarians.
Role Call Lillian Lawrence as Woman in Library (uncredited)—Spinster Librarian; Harry C. Bradley as Man in Library (uncredited)—Comic Relief (male)
The Caveman’s Valentine (2001):
Details: Dir. Kasi Lemmons. Perf. Samuel L. Jackson, Colm Feore, Ann Magnuson, Tamara Tunie. Universal, 2001. Based on the novel by George Dawes Green.
Synopsis: A cave-dwelling man sets out to solve the murder of a young homeless man. In the one library scene, Jackson uses a microfilm reader to research articles and gets reprimanded by a librarian.
Role Call: Deborah Lobban as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
The Changeling (1980):
Details: Dir. Peter Medak. Perf. George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas. Image Entertainment, 1980. Based on the short story by Russell Hunter.
Synopsis: John Russell (George C. Scott), whose wife and daughter are killed in a freak road accident, rents a house with a mysterious—and murderous—past. John researches old newspapers at the library, and a clerk sets up microfilm in a viewing room.
Role Call: David Peevers as Microfilm Clerk; Robert Monroe as Archives Clerk—both Information Providers (male)
Related post: The fastest librarian in the West, as seen in ‘The Changeling’
Details: Dir. John Carpenter. Perf. Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul. Columbia, 1983. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
Synopsis: A horror film about the unnatural connection between a teenager (Keith Gordon) and his car, Christine. In a short scene, Stockwell tries to talk to a girl (Alexandra Paul) in the school library—and incurs the wrath of the school librarian.
Role Call: Jan Burrell as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
Citizen Kane (1941):
Details: Dir. Orson Welles. Perf. Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Ruth Warrick, Alan Ladd. RKO, 1941.
Synopsis: A classic saga about the rise and fall of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). A reporter visits the Thatcher Memorial Library of Philadelphia to research Kane and runs into the steely, no-nonsense presence of the librarian.
Role Call: Georgia Backus as Miss Anderson—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Clean, Shaven (1994):
Details: Dir. Lodge Kerrigan. Perf. Peter Greene, Jennifer MacDonald, Robert Albert. Strand Releasing, 1994.
Synopsis: A schizophrenic man, Peter (Peter Greene), tracks down his daughter while a detective (Robert Albert) tracks him down as a murder suspect. In a couple of scenes, Peter tries to find clues about his daughter at a public library, disturbing other patrons with his erratic behavior. The librarian is later interviewed by a policeman.
Role Call: June Kelly as Librarian—Naughty Librarian/Information Provider (female)
The Color of Magic, aka The Colour of Magic (2008, TV movie):
Details: Dir. Vadim Jean. Perf. David Jason, Sean Astin, Tim Curry, James Cosmo. RHI Entertainment, 2008. Based on the novels The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.
Synopsis: A TV adaptation of the first two books of Pratchett’s Discworld series. The plot involves a spell book, a clueless tourist, a bid to become the head wizard, and the Librarian of Unseen University. There’s an accident, and the librarian turns into an orangutan.
Role Call: Nicholas Tennant (human form) and Richard da Costa (in orangtuan form) as Head Librarian
Related post: A magical librarian in ‘The Color of Magic’
Curse of the Demon, aka Night of the Demon (1957):
Details: Dir. Jacques Tournear. Perf. Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis. Columbia, 1957. Based on the story “Casting the Runes” by M. R. James.
Synopsis: Psychologist John Holden (Dane Andrews) investigates a colleague’s death and becomes the next target of a satanic cult. In one segment, Holden investigates his colleague’s research at the British Museum and gets help from a librarian.
Role Call: John Salew as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
Related post: Positive portrayal of a reel librarian in ‘Curse of the Demon’
The Day After Tomorrow (2004):
Details: Dir. Roland Emmerich. Perf. Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Ross. 20th Century Fox, 2004.
Synopsis: Global warming takes the world by storm, and paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) sets out to save his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who’s trapped in the New York Public Library. After hundreds of people run to the library for safety, Sam talks to the librarians on duty, and the librarian is later horrified when the others want to burn books to stay warm.
Role Call: Shelia McCarthy as Judith—Information Provider (female); Tom Rooney as Jeremy—Liberated Librarian (male)
Dear Frankie (2004):
Details: Dir. Shona Auerbach. Perf. Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small. Miramax, 2004.
Synopsis: A single mother (Emily Mortimer) has been writing her deaf son, Frankie (Jack McElhone), make-believe letters from his father—who she says has been away at sea on a ship—and she has to find a substitute father (Gerard Butler) when that ship comes to dock. In one scene, the boy goes to a Lending Library, and the librarian doesn’t realize he is deaf.
Role Call: Elaine M. Ellis as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Related post: Moving mountains — all in a day’s work in ‘Dear Frankie’
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2014):
Details: Dir. Ned Benson. Perf. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, Ciarán Hinds, Jess Weixler. Unison Films, 2014.
Synopsis: There are 3 versions of this film: Her, Him, and Them, which reveal the different perspectives of a white married couple, Eleanor and Conor (Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy), who struggle to cope emotionally after a traumatic experience. Jess Weixler plays Katy, Eleanor’s sister, and she manages the periodicals at a public library. Katy is seen in the Her and Them versions, with extended and additional scenes in the Her version.
Role Call: Jess Weixler as Katy — Atypical Portrayal (female)
Related post: A ‘disappear’-ing reel librarian
Doctor Strange (2016):
Details: Dir. Scott Derrickson. Perf. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios, 2016.
Synopsis: After a debilitating car accident, surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) travels to an Asian monastery in hopes of healing his hands. He discovers much deeper healing powers in this Marvel Universe installment. The monastery librarian, Wong, is also a Master of the Mystic Arts, and he teaches Strange several important lessons throughout. The film also literally begins and ends in the Kamar-Taj monastery library.
Role Call: Benedict Wong as Wong — Information Provider and Comic Relief (male) ; Ezra Khan as Kamar-Taj Librarian — Information Provider (male)
Related post: Sorcerer librarians of ‘Doctor Strange’ ; 3 reel librarians who have died in the line of duty ; A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Phase Three
Details: Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, Elias McConnell, Kristen Hicks. HBO Films, 2003.
Synopsis: A normal day at school turns into a Columbine-like massacre. Michelle (Kristen Hicks) is a shy, quiet girl who gets called a “loser” by others. A few scenes are set in the school library; in one, the school librarian gives Michelle instructions on shelving books.
Role Call: Kristen Hicks as Michelle—Spinster Librarian; Alfred Ono as Mr. Fong—Information Provider (male)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979):
Details: Dir. Don Siegel. Perf. Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Larry Hankin, Paul Benjamin. Paramount, 1979. Based on the book by J. Campbell Bruce.
Synopsis: A group of inmates plan an escape from the prison on Alcatraz. In one scene, Clint Eastwood delivers books to prisoners, and he becomes friends with the prison librarian (Paul Benjamin).
Role Call: Paul Benjamin as English—Information Provider (male)/Librarian as Failure
Flight of the Intruder (1991):
Details: Dir. John Milius. Perf. Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, Brad Johnson, Rosanna Arquette. Paramount, 1991. Based on the novel by Stephen Coonts.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, a young pilot (Brad Johnson) questions bombing missions after his partner is killed. In one short scene, a young officer in the ship’s library allows Johnson to check out a non-circulating issue of National Geographic that contains maps of North Vietnam.
Role Call: Adam Biesk as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
Follow the Stars Home (2001, TV movie):
Details: Dir. Dick Lowry. Perf. Kimberly Williams, Eric Close, Campbell Scott, Alexa Vega. Hallmark Hall of Fame, 1991. Based on the novel by Luanne Rice.
Synopsis: Kimberly Williams plays a young woman whose husband deserts her and their young child, who was born with genetic abnormalities. Hannah, her mother, a public librarian, helps raise the child. There are several scenes set in the library, including a party scene! Featuring future Oscar winner Octavia Spencer as one of Hildy’s librarian colleagues.
Role Call: Blair Brown as Hannah Parker — Atypical portrayal; Octavia Spencer as Hildy — Information Provider (female); Debra Orenstein as Young Librarian — Information Provider (female)
Related post: Meet Hannah in ‘Follow the Stars Home’
From a Whisper to a Scream, aka The Offspring (1987):
Details: Dir. Jeff Burr. Perf. Vincent Price, Susan Tyrrell, Rosalind Cash. Conquest Productions, 1987.
Synopsis: In a small Tennessee town named Oldfield, a local librarian and historian (Vincent Price, in one of his later roles) retells four horror stories — stories about the town’s “long history of violence” — to a nosy reporter (Susan Tyrrell). The stories from his library serve as a framework for the film, but none of the stories he retells involve a library or librarian.
Role Call: Vincent Price as Julian White — Information Provider (male)
Related post: Welcome to Oldfield, ‘From a Whisper to a Scream’
Details: Dir. Ivan Reitman. Perf. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis. Columbia, 1984.
Synopsis: Comedy about three parapsychologists who catch ghosts. Their first assignment is at the New York Public Library, where a librarian gets scared out of her wits by a library ghost. John Rothman plays the insensitive library administrator.
Role Call: Alice Drummond as Alice—Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief (female); Ruth Oliver as Library Ghost—Spinster Librarian; John Rothman as Roger Delacorte—Anti-Social Librarian
Related posts: Who you gonna call? Not the librarians in ‘Ghostbusters’ (1984) ; A closer look at the reel librarians in the original ‘Ghostbusters’
Gideon’s Trumpet (1980, TV movie):
Details: Dir. Robert E. Collins. Perf. Henry Fonda, Jose Ferrer, John Houseman. Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, 1980.
Synopsis: A TV biopic about a Florida man, Clarence Earl Gideon (Henry Fonda), who wins the Supreme Court case for the right to a lawyer at trial, regardless of being able to afford one. Gideon goes to the prison library several times to research the appeals process. The prison librarian helps him several times.
Role Call: Dolph Sweet as Charlie—Librarian as Failure/Information Provider
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011):
Details: Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård. Columbia, 2011. Based on the book by Stieg Larsson.
Synopsis: American version of the Swedish novel (and Swedish film version) about a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) who investigates the 40-year disappearance of a young woman. He is aided in his search by a punk investigator/computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Late in the film, Lisbeth researches records in a company’s archives, disgruntling an archives librarian.
Role Call: Anne-Li Norberg as Lindgren — Spinster Librarian / Information Provider (female)
Related post: The Lindgren trilogy | Comparing the archivist character in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ book and film versions
The Golden Child (1986):
Details: Dir. Michael Ritchie. Perf. Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis. Paramount, 1986.
Synopsis: Private detective Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) sets out to find the “Golden Child,” a Buddhist mystic who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer (Charles Dance). A mysterious lady supplies him with information about the Golden Child and his quest, and he is told that she is the librarian at a Sacred Depository library, a half-dragon lady over 300 years old (!).
Role Call: Shakti as Kala—Information Provider (female)
Related post: The dragon lady librarian in ‘The Golden Child’ (1986)
Harry and the Hendersons (1987):
Details: Dir. William Dear. Perf. John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Kevin Peter Hall, David Suchet. Universal, 1987.
Synopsis: Comedy about a family who discovers Bigfoot (Kevin Peter Hall) and takes him home. In a short scene, John Lithgow goes to the public library and asks for information on Bigfoot. The librarian directs him to the section on fantasy, myths and legends.
Role Call: Peggy Platt as Librarian; Uncredited female—both Information Providers (female)
Related post: The ‘Bigfoot’ librarian
Hear My Song (1991):
Details: Dir. Peter Chelsom. Perf. Brian Flanagan, Tara Fitzgerald, Ned Beatty. Miramax, 1991.
Synopsis: An Irish entertainment swindler (Brian Flanagan) convinces an exiled Irish tenor (Ned Beatty) to sing once more. In a short scene, Flanagan must find sheet music in one hour, and a music librarian bends the rules and gives him the sheet music he needs.
Role Call: Mary MacLeod as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
He’s On My Mind (2009):
Details: Dir. Kazeem Molake. Perf. Sherial Mckinney, Ayo Sorrells, Dylan Mooney. Vanguard Cinema, 2009.
Synopsis: Elementary school teacher Kayla King (Sherial Mckinney) thought she had the perfect relationship, but she finds out that not only is she the other woman, she’s the other wife. After a day researching at her local public library — and a couple of uncomfortable conversations with the cranky librarian — she develops the magic ability to read men’s thoughts.
Role Call: Read MacGuirtose as Cranky Librarian — Anti-Social Librarian
Related post: Librarian ‘on my mind’
Details: Dir. David Mamet. Perf. Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy and Vincent Guastaferro. Triumph Releasing Corp., 1991.
Synopsis: Joe Mantegna stars as conflicted cop Bobby Gold. While investigating a minor case, he gets involved with a secretive Jewish group, which makes him question his faith and self-worth. He investigates the word Grofaz at a special archives library for Jewish studies in one pivotal scene, featuring several librarians.
Role Call: Steven Goldstein as Librarian—Information Provider (male); Charlotte Potok as Assistant Librarian — Information Provider (female); Andrew Potok as Library Technician — Information Provider (male)
Related post: Smelling a rat in ‘Homicide’
The Human Comedy (1943):
Details: Dir. Clarence Brown. Perf. Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, Fay Bainter, Van Johnson, Donna Reed. Universal, 1943. Based on a story by William Saroyan.
Synopsis: Homer Macauley (Mickey Rooney) takes care of his family while his brother serves in WWII. In one touching scene, two boys go to the public library to look at books even though they can’t read yet, and encounter a friendly librarian.
Role Call: Adeline De Walt Reynolds as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
In the Name of the Father (1993):
Details: Dir. Jim Sheridan. Perf. Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Pete Postelthwaite. Universal, 1993. Based on the autobiographical book Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon.
Synopsis: Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) is coerced into confessing to an IRA bombing and spends 14 years in prison trying to prove his innocence. His lawyer (Emma Thompson) tries to locate police records, but the chief archivist is not cooperative.
Role Call: Alan Barry as Archivist Jenkins—Anti-Social Librarian; Liam O’Callaghan as Archivist 2—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Hector Bobenco. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Carroll Baker, Fred Gwynne, Tom Waits. TriStar, 1987. Based on the novel by William Kennedy.
Synopsis: In 1938, a homeless drifter (Nicholson) returns to his home town and meets an ex-radio singer (Meryl Streep) who’s sick and homeless. In one scene, Streep tries to sleep in the library and then gets into an argument with a woman who recognizes her. The librarian shushes and ejects her from the library.
Role Call: Bethel Leslie as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
Related post: Shushing Meryl Streep in ‘Ironweed’
Details: Dir. Andy Muschietti. Perf. Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård. New Line Cinema, 2017. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
Synopsis: Big-screen version of the classic Stephen King novel and 1990 miniseries; this film is “Chapter 1” of the story, featuring only the teenage versions of the Losers’ Club as they battle Pennywise the Clown as well as their own demons. There is a scene set in the public library with Ben, who is researching the early days of the town, Derry.
Role Call: Uncredited (?) female as public librarian — Information Provider (female)
Related post: First impressions: ‘It’ (2017) and its library scene
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019):
Details: Dir. Chad Stahelski. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon. Summit, 2019.
Synopsis: This third installment in the John Wick series picks up right after the events of 2017’s Chapter 2. John Wick is on the run from other hitmen who want reward money for killing him, and the first major fight scene occurs in the New York Public Library’s main branch. This short scene features one of the most efficient reference interviews ever onscreen.
Role Call: Susan Blommaert as Librarian — Information Provider (female)
Related post: First impressions: ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ (2019) and its memorable fight scene in the NYPL
Just Cause (1995):
Details: Dir. Arne Glimcher. Perf. Sean Connery, Laurence Fishburne, Blair Underwood, Kate Capshaw, Ed Harris. Warner Bros., 1995. Based on the novel by John Katzenbach.
Synopsis: Law professor Paul Armstrong (Sean Connery), an older White man, investigates the case of a young Black man (Blair Underwood) on death row in a Florida prison. A Latina newspaper archivist, Delores (Liz Torres), helps him find information for his research. Although Delores is clearly an informed professional and propels the plot forward more than once — and a rare reel archivist of color! — she is written as a gossipy, incurable flirt who is “on the hunt” for her next husband.
Role Call: Liz Torres as Delores Rodriguez—Information Provider/Comic relief (female)
Related post: ‘Just Cause’ to re-examine a Latina newspaper archivist portrayal
The Killing Kind (1973):
Details: Dir. Curtis Harrington. Perf. John Savage, Ann Sothern, Ruth Roman, Luana Anders, Cindy Williams. Media Cinema Group, 1973.
Synopsis: Terry (John Savage) returns home after spending two years in prison for participating in a gang rape. The deaths start adding up, particularly those involved in the rape and resulting prosecution. The next-door neighbor, Louise, is a librarian, but is never seen in a library. Rather, she’s a peeping tom — but what suspicious behavior is she observing behind those binoculars?
Note: The character of Louise, as well as her wheelchair-bound father are also explored more in-depth in the Class I film, The Attic (1980).
Role Call: Luana Anders as Louise — Naughty Librarian (female)
Related posts: ‘The Killing Kind’ vs. ‘The Attic’
The Last American Virgin (1982):
Details: Dir. Boaz Davidson. Perf. Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin, Steve Antin.Golan-Globus Productions, 1982.
Synopsis: Quintessential ’80s flick, about teenage boys looking for every opportunity to have sex, and dealing with the consequences. Includes a brief — but memorable — fight in the school library.
Role Call: Blanche Rubin as Librarian — Spinster Librarian / Information Provider (female)
Related post: ‘The Last American Virgin’ librarian
The Last Supper (1995):
Details: Dir. Stacy Title. Perf. Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Courtney B. Vance. Columbia, 1995.
Synopsis: Smugly proud of their forward-thinking ways, five grad student roommates find themselves succumbing to murderous temptations when faced with right-wing thinkers at their dinner table. In one scene, a librarian causes controversy when she condemns Catcher in the Rye.
Role Call: Pamela Gien as The Illiterate Librarian — Comic Relief (female)
Related post: Not your typical ‘last supper’ ; 3 reel librarians who have died in the line of duty
Lorenzo’s Oil (1992):
Details: Dir. George Miller. Perf. Nick Nolte, Susan Sarandon, Peter Ustinov. Universal, 1992. Based on a true story.
Synopsis: Lorenzo Odone develops a rare brain disorder called ALD. His parents (Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon) dedicate their lives to researching cures. In a few scenes, a librarian helps find medical articles to aid in their research.
Role Call: Mary Pat Gleason as The Librarian; Uncredited female—both Information Providers (female)
Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954):
Details: Dir. Charles Lamont. Perf. Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride, Alan Mowbray. Universal, 1954.
Synopsis: Part of the ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ film series, this outing features the funny efforts of the Kettle family getting their farm ready for big city judges. Why? Their eldest son wrote an essay about the farm for a college scholarship. Ma Kettle aims to fix up the fussy elder judge, Mr. Mannering (Alan Mowbray), with the “maiden lady librarian” Miss Wetter.
Role Call: Mary Wickes as Miss Wetter — Comic Relief / Information Provider (female)
Related post: ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ and the Lady Librarian
The Mask of Dimitrios (1944):
Details: Dir. Jean Negulesco. Perf. Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott. Warner Bros., 1944. Based on the novel A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler.
Synopsis: A notorious criminal, Dimitrios (Zachary Scott), fascinates mystery writer Leyden (Peter Lorre). In one early scene, Leyden travels to the Bureau of Records in Athens to research Dimitrios’s past and gets help from an archives clerk.
Role Call: Uncredited male—Anti-Social Librarian and Information Provider (male)
Related post: ‘The mask of’ organization
A Merry War, aka Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997):
Details: Dir. Robert Bierman. Perf. Richard E. Grant, Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Wadham. Overseas Film Group, 1997. Based on the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.
Synopsis: An ad agency writer (Richard E. Grant) becomes a bohemian poet and finds out the harsh world of poverty. After his girlfriend (Helena Bonham Carter) tells him of her pregnancy, he goes to the public library for books on pregnancy. The librarian reluctantly finds a book for him and treats him with suspicion as he reads it in the library.
Role Call: Joan Blackham as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Dave McKean. Perf. Stephanie Leonidas, Gina McKee, Jason Barry. Columbia/TriStar, 2005.
Synopsis: In this fantasy film, a young girl, Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) enters another world and has to find a “mirror mask” to get back. About a half-hour in, Helena and a juggling companion go to the dream world’s library and asks the librarian for “a really useful book.”
Role Call: Stephen Fry as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939):
Details: Dir. Herbert I. Leeds. Perf. Peter Lorre, Jean Hersholt, Amanda Duff. 20th Century Fox, 1939. Based on the novel Murder in Trinidad by John W. Vandercook and characters by J.P. Marquand.
Synopsis: Investigator Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) travels to Puerto Rico to uncover a diamond smuggling ring. He asks for the personal effects of the previous investigator, who was murdered. One of the items is a library card, from the San Juan Public Library. The next scene cuts to the library, where Moto asks a librarian about the books the investigator had checked out.
Role Call: Renie Riano as Librarian (uncredited)—Information Provider (female)
Monkey Trouble (1994):
Details: Dir. Franco Amurri. Perf. Thora Birch, Harvey Keitel, Mimi Rogers. New Line Cinema, 1994.
Synopsis: A pick-pocketing monkey befriends a young girl, Eva (Thora Birch), after running away from his owner (Harvey Keitel), who’s involved with the Mafia. Eva goes to a public library for info on cappuccino (meaning the capuchin monkey). In a scene played for very broad humor, the librarian jerks awake and yelps when Eva puts the monkey on the counter.
Role Call: Julie Payne as Librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (female)
The Monster That Challenged the World (1957):
Details: Dir. Arnold Laven. Perf. Tim Holt, Audrey Dalton, Hans Conried. MGM, 1957.
Synopsis: An earthquake in the Salton Sea, California, unleashes radioactive mollusk monsters. Nearby Naval base officers work to stop the horde of monsters, and a museum archivist appears in three short scenes to help find a map of underground rivers.
Role Call: Milton Parsons as Lewis Clark Dobbs (uncredited) — Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
Related post: Of ‘monsters’ and missing maps
Monsters University (2013):
Details: Dir. Dan Scanlon. Perf. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren. Disney Pixar, 2013.
Synopsis: A prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001), exploring how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sullivan (John Goodman) meet up at Monsters University. A brief, but memorable, scene in the MU library, featuring a monster librarian.
Role Call: Unknown voice actor as Librarian—Comic Relief/Spinster Librarian (female)
Related post: First impressions: ‘Monsters University’
Murder Ahoy! (1964):
Details: Dir. George Pollock. Perf. Margaret Rutherford, Lionel Jeffries, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Stringer Davis. MGM, 1964.
Synopsis: In this original story, Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) joins a ship that trains and rehabilitates juvenile delinquents—and stumbles onto murder. Stringer Davis, Rutherford’s real-life husband, played the village librarian and served as an assistant and sidekick to Rutherford in her Marple movies.
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
Related post: Here’s looking at you, Mr. Stringer
Murder at the Gallop (1963):
Details: Dir. George Pollock. Perf. Margaret Rutherford, Robert Morley, Flora Robson, Stringer Davis. MGM, 1963. Based on the novel After the Funeral by Agatha Christie.
Synopsis: Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) investigates the mysterious death of wealthy Mr. Enderby. Davis plays his usual role in the series as the village librarian (see Murder Ahoy! above). In one scene, Davis dances the twist with Rutherford.
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
Related post: Here’s looking at you, Mr. Stringer
Murder Most Foul (1964):
Details: Dir. George Pollock. Perf. Margaret Rutherford, Ron Moody, Stringer Davis. MGM, 1964. Based on the novel Mrs. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie.
Synopsis: In order to prove an accused murderer innocent, Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) joins a local acting troupe to figure out the real murderer. Davis plays his usual role in the series as the village librarian (see Murder Ahoy! above).
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
Related post: Here’s looking at you, Mr. Stringer
Murder She Said (1961):
Details: Dir. George Pollock. Perf. Margaret Rutherford, Arthur Kennedy, Muriel Pavlow, Stringer Davis. MGM, 1961. Based on the novel 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie.
Synopsis: Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) witnesses a murder in a passing train and poses as housekeeper at Ackenthorpe Hall to investigate. Davis plays his usual role in the series as the village librarian (see Murder Ahoy! above).
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
Related post: Here’s looking at you, Mr. Stringer
My Week with Marilyn (2011):
Details: Dir. Simon Curtis. Perf. Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Judi Dench.Weinstein Company, 2011. Based on the the books My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, the Showgirl and Me by Colin Clark..
Synopsis: An adaptation of Colin Clark’s chronicled week with Marilyn Monroe as she filmed The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier in 1956. In one scene, Colin gets them into Windsor Castle by name-dropping his godfather, Sir Owen Morshead, the Royal Librarian.
Role Call: Derek Jacobi as Sir Owen Morshead — Information Provider (male)
Related post: The royal treatment in ‘My Week with Marilyn’
Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993):
Details: Dir. Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, and Brian Yuzna. Perf. Jeffrey Combs, Tony Azito, Bruce Payne. Turner Home Entertainment, 1993.
Synopsis: Comprised of three story segments based off of H. P. Lovecraft’s works, it also includes a “wraparound” entitled The Library, which serves as a framing device for the other stories. H. P. Lovecraft goes to a monastery library and steals a librarian monk’s key in order to read the Necronomicon, the book of the dead — and in the process, he opens up more than he intended.
Role Call: Tony Azito as Librarian and Juan Fernández as Attendant (library assistant) — both Anti-Social Librarians / Information Providers (male)
Related post: ‘Necronomicon’: Dead on arrival
The Neverending Story III: Escape from Fantasia (1994):
Details: Dir. Peter MacDonald. Perf. Jason James Richter, Melody Kay, Jack Black, Freddie Jones. Miramax, 1994.
Synopsis: School bullies steal a book that functions as the portal between worlds, and Bastian (Jason James Richter) must find the book. In the opening scene, Richter hides from the bullies in the school library.
Role Call: Freddie Jones as Mr. Koreander, the Librarian—Information Provider (male)
The New Guy (2002):
Details: Dir. Peter MacDonald. Perf. DJ Qualls, Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel. Bedlam Pictures, 2002.
Synopsis: Dizzy (DJ Qualls) tries to restart the year at another school as the cool “new guy,” after being humiliated at his old high school when a group of jocks pulled his underpants over his head and pushed him toward the school librarian. It is a memorable opening scene!
Role Call: Justine Johnston as Mrs. Whitman—Comic Relief (female)
Related posts: The hand that rocks the school in ‘The New Guy’ ; Behind the blog: What goes into a film analysis post
The Night Strangler (1973, TV movie):
Details: Dir. Dan Curtis. Perf. Darren McGavin, Jo Ann Pflug, Simon Oakland, Wally Cox. ABC/MGM Home Entertainment, 1973.
Synopsis: TV sequel to The Night Stalker (1973), Kolchak (Darren McGavin) is back and investigating a series of murders in Seattle, a strangler of women who leaves decaying flesh behind. Wally Cox plays Mr. Berry, a newspaper archives librarian who helps Kolchak crack the case.
Role Call: Wally Cox as Mr. Berry — Information Provider (male)
Related post: ‘The Night Strangler’ and the underground librarian
The Paper Chase (1973):
Details: Dir. James Bridges. Perf. Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, John Houseman, Edward Herrmann. Paramount, 1973. Based on the novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr.
Synopsis: Drama about a first year law student’s (Timothy Bottoms) experiences with a law professor (John Houseman) and his daughter (Lindsay Wagner). A couple of short scenes feature the law librarian, who tells Bottom about the “red set,” a restricted area of professors’ private notes and papers.
Role Call: Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)
The Phantom (1996):
Details: Dir. Simon Wincer. Perf. Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Paramount, 1996. Based on characters by Lee Falk.
Synopsis: The Phantom (Billy Zane), the protector of the island of Bengalla, travels to New York to stop Xander Drax (Treat Williams) from obtaining three magic skulls. Drax figures out that librarian Dr. Fleming has been giving information to the Phantom about the special collections Drax has been researching.
Role Call: Alan Zitner as Dr. Fleming—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Jonathan Demme. Perf. Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward, Antonio Banderas, Mary Steenburgen. TriStar, 1993.
Synopsis: With the help of lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a man with AIDS (Tom Hanks) sues his law firm for wrongful dismissal. In one scene, Hanks researches materials in a law library, and the librarian, after giving him a book, asks him if he would be more comfortable in a private research room.
Role Call: Tracey Walter as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
The Philadelphia Story (1940):
Details: Dir. George Cukor. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young. MGM, 1940. Based on the play by Philip Barry.
Synopsis: A socialite’s (Tracy Hepburn) ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (James Stewart) show up right before her planned wedding, and romantic complications ensue. In one scene at the public library, Hepburn and Stewart discuss his book, and a Quaker librarian shushes them.
Role Call: Hilda Plowright as Librarian—Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief (female)
Related posts: ‘What does thee wish?’ To analyze the librarian in ‘The Philadelphia Story’ ; Comparing the Philadelphia stories
The Pit, aka Teddy (1981):
Details: Dir. Lew Lehman. Perf. Sammy Snyders, Jeannie Elias, Laura Hollingsworth. Amulet Pictures, 1981.
Synopsis: Twelve year-old Jamie Benjamin talks to his teddy bear and fantasizes about older women, including the public librarian. He discovers Trogs in a pit deep in the woods, and with Teddy’s help, discovers a way to seek revenge on those who have been mean to him. There are several scenes set in the local public library.
Role Call: Laura Hollingsworth as Marg Livingstone — Information Provider (female)
Related post: Pitfalls and fantasies in ‘The Pit’
Details: Dir. Neil LaBute. Perf. Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle. Warner Bros., 2002. Based on the novel by A. S. Byatt.
Synopsis: Two literary researchers (Gwyneth Paltrow & Aaron Eckhart) track down the correspondence and relationship between two Victorian poets (Jeremy Northam & Jennifer Ehle). In an early scene, Eckhart checks out a book at the British Museum library and answers questions from a nosy librarian.
Role Call: Hugh Simon as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
Related post: Reader poll winner write-up, Fall 2017: ‘Possession’
Prick Up Your Ears (1987):
Details: Dir. Stephen Frears. Perf. Gary Oldman, Alfred Molina, Vanessa Redgrave, Wallace Shawn. Samuel Goldwyn Co., 1987. Based on the book by John Lahr.
Synopsis: Based on the true story of British playwright Joe Orton (Gary Oldman) and his relationship with his partner Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina). They type obscene passages onto library books, and two librarians set a trap and turn them into the police.
Role Call: Selina Cadell as Miss Battersby—Information Provider (female); Charles McKeown as Mr. Cunliffe—Anti-Social Librarian; Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)
Related post: Librarians make their mark in ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ (1987) ; Thoughts after reading ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ biography
Pride and Prejudice (1940):
Details: Dir. Robert Z. Leonard. Perf. Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O’Sullivan, Edna May Oliver, Edmund Gwenn. MGM, 1940. Based on the novel by Jane Austen.
Synopsis: The Bennets try to find suitors for their five unmarried daughters. In this version, Mr. Collins’s occupation is changed from clergyman to personal librarian to Lady Catherine de Burgh.
Role Call: Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins—Comic Relief (male)
Related posts: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and librarians ; Revisiting favorites | ‘Pride and Prejudice’ librarian, Feb. 18, 2014
Primary Colors (1998):
Details: Dir. Mike Nichols. Perf. John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Adrian Lester, Kathy Bates, Billy Bob Thornton. MCA/Universal, 1998. Based on the novel by Anonymous (Joe Klein).
Synopsis: A fictionalized account of Bill Clinton’s presidential candidacy. The film begins with Jack Stanton (John Travolta) visiting an urban school that provides adult literacy classes, and he introduces the “very special librarian,” Miss Walsh, a klutzy but dedicated teacher and librarian.
Role Call: Allison Janney as Miss Walsh—Information Provider/Comic Relief (female)
Related post: Teacher librarian in ‘Primary Colors’
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969):
Details: Dir. Ronald Neame. Perf. Maggie Smith, Robert Stephens, Pamela Franklin. 20th Century Fox, 1969. Based on the novel by Muriel Spark and the play by Jay Presson Allen.
Synopsis: A young schoolteacher (Maggie Smith) at a private Edinburgh girls’ school gives her students an unconventional education. Two of her favorite pupils write a love letter in the school library, and the school librarian kicks the girls out of the library for making too much noise.
Role Call: Isla Cameron as Miss McKenzie—Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief (female)
Quatermass and the Pit, aka Five Million Years to Earth (1967):
Details: Dir. Roy Ward Baker. Perf. Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, James Donald, Julian Glover. Hammer Film Productions, 1967. Based on the original story by Nigel Kneale.
Synopsis: The third film in the Quatermass series is an interesting take on religious myths and science fiction, and starts off with a discovery of ape-like human skeletons at a subway excavation site. When scientists further discover a missile-like metal shape, the armed forces are called in. Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and an assistant scientist, Barbara (Barbara Shelley) do some digging of their own — in the research archives. This leads them to the Westminster Abbey archives and a short scene with the Abbey Librarian.
Role Call: Noel Howlett as Abbey Librarian—Information Provider (male)
Related post: ‘Quatermass’ and the librarian
Details: Dir. Milos Forman. Perf. James Cagney, Mandy Patinkin, Elizabeth McGovern, Mary Steenburgen, Howard E. Rollins, Jr. Paramount, 1981. Based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow.
Synopsis: Several family storylines connect in 1910s New York. Piano player Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Howard E. Rollins, Jr.) takes justice into his own hands after men assault him and his new car. After Walker, Jr. and his friends overtake the J. P. Morgan Library, the curator argues with the police and threatens to go to the President.
Role Call: Herman Meckler as Vernon Elliott—Information Provider (male)
Details: Dir. Robert Schwentke. Perf. Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren. Summit, 2010. Based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner.
Synopsis: In this comedy-action film, retired but extremely dangerous (“RED”) agents team up against people trying to kill them. In one of his final roles, Ernest Borgnine pays Henry, the CIA records keeper.
Role Call: Ernest Borgnine as Henry, The Records Keeper — Information Provider (male)
Related post: The ultimate Information Provider in ‘RED’
Details: Dir. Russell Mulcahy. Perf. Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak. HBO/Warner Bros., 1991. Based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow.
Synopsis: Lifetime criminal Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow) seeks revenge on the hotshot detective (Denzel Washington) who put him away. Early in the film, Blake meets “Mr. Book Man,” the prison librarian, in the hospital. Their second meeting years later in a prison parking lot doesn’t go so well.
Role Call: Don Perry as Book Man—Comic Relief (male) / Information Provider (male)
Related post: Hey! Mr. Book Man, find a book for me in ‘Ricochet’ ; 3 reel librarians who have died in the line of duty
The Ring (2002):
Details: Dir. Gore Verbinski. Perf. Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox. DreamWorks, 2002. Based on the novel Ringu by Koji Suzuki.
Synopsis: A thriller about a reporter, Rachel (Naomi Watts), who investigates the death of her niece and a mysterious videotape that kills anyone who watches it. In one scene, Rachel researches materials in a library, and a librarian brings her a stack of books. In another scene, Rachel’s ex (Martin Henderson) asks to see session tapes at a mental hospital, receiving help from the hospital archivist/library clerk.
Role Call: Ronald William Lawrence as Library Clerk; Guy Richardson as Librarian—both Information Providers (male)
Details: Dir. Norman Jewison. Perf. James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck. MGM/UA Entertainment, 1975. Based on the short story “Roller Ball Murder” by William Harrison.
Synopsis: In a future controlled by corporations, Jonathan E. (James Caan) is the star of the ultra-violent sport Rollerball. The corporate executives want him to quit, but Jonathan defies them. In the first library scene (in this future, they are called “computer centers”), he goes to the local branch, where the Circulation clerk tells him his books are classified. Later, Jonathan travels to the central computer bank in Geneva, but the older librarian there is unable to get the information out from the main computer.
Role Call: Ralph Richardson as Librarian—Information Provider (male); Nancy Bleier as Girl in Library (Circulation Clerk)—Information Provider (female)
Related post: Reel librarians in ‘Rollerball’ | Analyzing the 1975 original film and 2002 remake
Scream 3 (2000):
Details: Dir. Wes Craven. Perf. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Patrick Dempsey, Parker Posey, Scott Foley. Dimension Films, 2000.
Synopsis: The third in the trilogy, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to help solve murders on the set of Stab 3. Reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) and the actress playing Gail in the film (Parker Posey) look up information about Sidney’s mother in the film studio’s archives. Carrie Fisher makes a brief—but memorable—appearance as the failed movie actress-turned-archivist who knows every face in the files.
Role Call: Carrie Fisher as Bianca Burnette/Archives Librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (female)
The Seventh Victim (1943):
Details: Dir. Mark Robson. Perf. Kim Hunter, Jean Brooks, Tom Conway, Isabel Jewell, Erford Gage. RKO, 1943.
Synopsis: In the first horror film to feature a librarian, a teenage girl (Kim Hunter) tries to find her missing sister Jacqueline and uncovers a sinister cult. Poet Jason Hoag (Erford Gage) goes to the library to gather clues from cult members’ circulation records; he flirts with the librarian, who breaks the rules to give him restricted books.
Role Call: Sarah Selby as Miss Gottschalk, Librarian—Naughty Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Related post: The horror of an unethical librarian in ‘The Seventh Victim’
Shadow of a Doubt (1943):
Details: Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton, Henry Travers, Hume Cronyn, Patricia Collinge. Universal, 1943.
Synopsis: A young woman (Teresa Wright) starts to suspect her favorite uncle (Joseph Cotton) of being the “Merry Widow Murderer.” In a race against time, Wright needs to look up a newspaper in the library, and the librarian reprimands her for coming in one minute after the library closed.
Role Call: Eily Malyon as Miss Cochran—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Related post: Closing time in ‘Shadow of a Doubt’
Sophie’s Choice (1982):
Details: Dir. Alan J. Pakula. Perf. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol. Universal, 1982. Based on the novel by William Styron.
Synopsis: A Southern writer (Peter MacNicol) moves to New York City, where he meets Sophie (Meryl Streep), a Holocaust survivor with a troubling past. In a flashback scene, Sophie goes to a library to look up works by Emily Dickinson; she faints after an unpleasant exchange with the librarian.
Role Call: John Rothman as Librarian—Anti-Social Librarian
Details: Dir. Tom McCarthy. Perf. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber. First Look, 2015. Based on a true story.
Synopsis: Best Picture winner for 2015. Focuses on the Spotlight team of reporters who published a series of stories in 2002 about Catholic priests who, for decades, had been sexually abusing children in their parishes. A few scenes and montages feature the Boston Globe news librarians and research methods of using church directories to track down priests.
Role Call: Michele Proude as Lisa Tuite, head of the news library; Zarrin Darnell-Martin as Intern Wanda; Colleen Kelly as an uncredited Librarian — all Information Providers
Related posts: ‘Spotlight’-ing a news library ; Revisiting favorites | ‘Spotlight’ on a news library, May 4, 2016
Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002):
Details: Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson. 20th Century Fox, 2002.
Synopsis: The second prequel in the Star Wars saga. In one short scene, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) cannot find any information about a mysterious planet at the Jedi Archives, and the Jedi librarian insists that “if an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.”
Role Call: Alethea McGrath as Jocasta Nu—Information Provider (female)
Related posts: The Jedi librarian ; May the archives be with you | Shining the spotlight on the Jedi librarian ; A funny thing happened on the way to the Jedi library…
The Station Agent (2003):
Details: Dir. Thomas McCarthy. Perf. Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Williams. Miramax, 2003.
Synopsis: Finbar McGride (Peter Dinklage) moves to a train depot in rural New Jersey. Even though he tries to live in solitude, other eccentric characters in the town befriend him. One day, Dinklage goes to the local public library, where he meets and befriends the young library assistant (Michelle Williams).
Role Call: Michelle Williams as Emily—Liberated Librarian (female)
The Substitute (1996):
Details: Dir. Robert Mandel. Perf. Tom Berenger, Raymond Cruz, Diane Venora, Ernie Hudson, Marc Anthony. Orion, 1996.
Synopsis: Ex-marine John Shale (Tom Berenger) goes undercover as a high school substitute teacher in order to investigate a gang. The school librarian stands up to the hoodlums who start a shoot-out with John in the school library.
Role Call: Peggy Pope as Hannah Dillion—Liberated Librarian (female)
Summer of the Monkeys (1998):
Details: Dir. Michael Anderson. Perf. Corey Sevier, Wilford Brimley, Michael Ontkean. Waterfront Pictures, 1998. Based on the book by Wilson Rawls.
Synopsis: Set in the late 1800s/early 1900s, a teenage boy is trying to earn money to buy a pony, but his world gets turned upside down by a batch of circus monkeys who escaped during a train crash. He goes to the town library in one scene to find out more about the monkeys.
Role Call: Beverly Cooper as Librarian — Information Provider (female)
Related post: Glasses on, glasses off in ‘Summer of the Monkeys’
Teenage Mother (1967):
Details: Dir. Jerry Gross. Perf. Arlene Farber, Frederick Riccio, Julie Ange, Howard Le May. Arrow Films, 1967.
Synopsis: A new health teacher is hired to teach sex education in a high school and gets blamed when a student says she’s pregnant. In one short scene, the teacher asks the school librarian why the library does not own a specific textbook on sexuality, and she gets told by the librarian that it’s a “filthy book” inappropriate for teenagers.
Role Call: Uncredited actress as Miss Fowler—Spinster Librarian
Related post: Reader poll write-up, Spring 2017: ‘Teenage Mother’
That Touch of Mink (1962):
Details: Dir. Delbert Mann. Perf. Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young, Audrey Meadows. Universal-International, 1962.
Synopsis: A rich man (Cary Grant) and a young woman (Doris Day) begin a relationship—but she wants marriage while he wants only an affair. In one comedic scene, 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.
Role Call: Barbara Collentine as Mrs. Smith—Comic Relief (female)
Related post: That touch of mistaken identity in ‘That Touch of Mink’
This Happy Breed (1944):
Details: Dir. David Lean. Perf. Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills. Eagle-Lion/Universal, 1944. Based on the play by Noel Coward.
Synopsis: This film follows one British family from the end of WWI (1919) through the start of WWII (1939). Aunt Sylvia (Alison Leggatt) is a maiden aunt who’s portrayed as a hypochondriac who is always complaining. She lives with her brother’s family and has declared herself too ill to work, but about 2/3 through the film, we learn she has been working at the library.
Role Call: Alison Leggatt as Aunt Sylvia—Spinster Librarian
This Was Paris, aka So This Was Paris (1942):
Details: Dir. John Harlow. Perf. Ann Dvorak, Ben Lyon. First National/Warner Bros., 1942.
Synopsis: A comic spy thriller set in Paris in 1940, before the German invasion. A reporter suspects a man of being a German spy, so he looks at the newspaper archives—and he makes a mess by throwing pictures and files around. He also takes time to insult Watson, the newspaper librarian.
Role Call: Miles Malleson as Watson, Newspaper Librarian—Comic Relief (male)
The Time Machine (2002):
Details: Dir. Simon Wells. Perf. Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Orlando Jones. Warner Bros., 2002. Based on the novel by H. G. Wells.
Synopsis: A disillusioned inventor (Guy Pearce) builds a time machine and travels 800,000 years into the future. He encounters Vox (Jones), a holographic librarian, who supplies him with information about time travel and the history and evolution of the planet and its population.
Role Call: Orlando Jones as Vox—Information Provider (male)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011):
Details: Dir. Tomas Alfredson. Perf. Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth. StudioCanal, 2011.
Synopsis: A film adaptation of John le Carré’s 1974 novel and remake of the 1979 British miniseries. It stars Gary Oldman as George Smiley, the agent forced out of MI6 but called back in to investigate a mole. About two-thirds through the film, Smiley sends Agent Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) into “the lion’s den” — the library archives, hah! –to retrieve some vital records. Two reel librarians are at the check-in counter, but Guillam gets to roam the library archives on his own.
Role Call: Laura Carmichael as Sal — Information Provider (female) ; Uncredited (?) male as librarian — Information Provider (male)
Related post: First impressions: ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’
Details: Dir. Gregory Poirier. Perf. Jerry O’Connell, Shannon Elizabeth, Jake Busey. Columbia TriStar, 2001.
Synopsis: A raunchy comedy about a young man (Jerry O’Connell) who schemes to get his friend (Jake Busey) married in order to collect a lot of money. In the film’s opening scene, O’Connell picks up a young and seemingly meek librarian—who soon breaks out the leather and whip!
Role Call: Heather Stephens as Jill; Marnie Crossen as Grammy—both Naughty Librarians (female)
Transylvania Twist (1989):
Details: Dir. Jim Wynorski. Perf. Robert Vaughn, Teri Copley, Steve Altman, Jay Robinson. Concord Productions, 1989.
Synopsis: A comedy spoofing classic and ’80s horror movies, produced by legendary Hollywood producer Roger Corman. The film starts with young man Dexter attending the funeral of his uncle Ephram, who turns out to be a reel librarian — and alive! Dexter helps out his uncle by tracking down the Book of Ultran, which is 20 years overdue.
Role Call: Jay Robinson as Uncle Emphram — Comic Relief and Information Provider (male)
Related post: Reader poll write-up, Fall 2015: ‘Transylvania Twist’
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945):
Details: Dir. Elia Kazan. Perf. Peggy Ann Garner, Dorothy McGuire, James Dunn, Joan Blondell. 20th Century Fox, 1945. Based on the novel by Betty Smith.
Synopsis: In this touching film set in 1900s Brooklyn, a young girl (Peggy Ann Garner) grows up in a poor household with a beloved but alcoholic father (James Dunn). Garner seems determined to better herself, and in one scene, she goes to the library to check out books. The librarian is astonished to learn that the little girl wants to read every book in the library.
Role Call: Lillian Bronson as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Jay Levey. Perf. Weird Al Yankovic, Victoria Jackson, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards. Orion, 1989.
Synopsis: George Newman (Weird Al Yankovic) takes over an almost-bankrupt public TV station, and it becomes an unexpected hit. One segment features an over-the-top “Conan the Librarian,” who yells at patrons for not knowing the Dewey Decimal system and slices a guy in half because his books were overdue.
Role Call: Roger Callard as Conan the Librarian—Comic Relief (male)
Related posts: He’s… Conan the Librarian! ; Conan the Librarian and Chainsaw Sally
The Ultimate Gift (2006):
Details: Dir. Michael O. Sajbel. Perf. James Garner, Drew Fuller, Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs. 20th Century Fox, 2006.
Synopsis: Billionaire Howard “Red” Stevens (James Garner) passes away and sends his grandson, Jason (Fuller), on a series of challenges to discover the “ultimate gift.” Along the way, he gets sent to a small village in Ecuador, where his grandfather built the “Stevens Biblioteca” (the Stevens Library). A friendly woman shows Jason the library, housed in a small, simple wood building.
Role Call: Rose Bianco as Bella—Information Provider (female)
Up the Down Staircase (1967):
Details: Dir. Robert Mulligan. Perf. Sandy Dennis, Patrick Bedford, Eileen Heckart. Warner Bros., 1967. Based on the novel by Bel Kaufman.
Synopsis: A young, naïve and idealistic teacher, Ms. Barrett (Sandy Dennis), gets her first job at an inner-city high school in New York. The school librarian, Mrs. Wolf, appears in several short scenes throughout the film.
Role Call: Frances Sternhagen as Charlotte Wolf—Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief (female)
The Wicker Man (1973):
Details: Dir. Robin Hardy. Perf. Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland. British Lion Film Corp., 1973. Based on the novel Ritual by David Pinner and Anthony Shaffer (uncredited).
Synopsis: In this cult film, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) investigates the apparent disappearance of a girl on a remote island. The inhabitants of the island practice pagan rituals and deny any knowledge of the missing girl. In one scene, Howie visits an office with a sign on the door that reads, “Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. Authorised Registrar for Civil Marriages.” He asks to see the Index of Death, and the woman in the office (Ingrid Pitt) reluctantly complies. Later, he searches for the missing girl and enters a house’s bathroom — the woman from the Registrar’s office is in a half-tub of water, naked. There is also a brief scene in the public library, but Ingrid Pitt does not appear in that scene. The credits list Ingrid Pitt’s role as “The Librarian” — and she has given many interviews stating that she played the “nymphomaniac librarian” — even though she is only seen working in the Registrar’s office.
Role Call: Ingrid Pitt as Librarian—Naughty Librarian and Information Provider (female)
Related post: Nymphomaniac librarian in ‘The Wicker Man’
Within the Law (1939):
Details: Dir. Gustav Machatý. Perf. Ruth Hussey, Tom Neal, Samuel S. Hinds. MGM, 1939. Based on the play by Bayard Veiller.
Synopsis: A store clerk, Mary Turner (Ruth Hussey), gets framed for theft, wrongly accused by her employer Edward Gilder (Samuel Hinds), and sentenced to three years in prison. During her prison term, she has a pivotal scene with the prison librarian.
Role Call: Claire Du Brey as Prison Librarian — Information Provider (female, uncredited)
Related post: A librarian ‘within the law’
Details: Dir. David Cobham. Perf. Liza Goddard, John Ringham, Edward Fidoe. Miramax, 1989.
Synopsis: A boy turns into a dog for a series of (mis)adventures. Includes a scene in the public library, complete with a bell-ringing librarian.
Role Call: Sheila Steafel as Librarian — Spinster Librarian / Comic Relief (female)
Related post: ‘Woof!’ Beware of librarian
You, Me and Dupree (2006):
Details: Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Perf. Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Owen Wilson. Universal, 2006.
Synopsis: Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are young newlyweds, and Carl’s best man, Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on their couch after he loses his job (due to attending their wedding). Molly sets Dupree up with the “very nice librarian” at her school. Mandy ends up setting Molly and Carl’s house on fire and breaking Dupree’s heart. We never fully see her onscreen, although she is mentioned throughout the latter half of the film.
Role Call: Uncredited actress as Mandy the Mormon librarian — Naughty Librarian (female)
Related posts: ‘You, Me and Dupree’ — and the Naughty Librarian ; Revisiting favorites | Mandy the Mormon librarian, Aug. 26, 2015
6 thoughts on “Class III (minor roles)”
Hello, and thanks for such an interesting site! One thing: I’m unclear why you are counting the blonde girl in “The Big Sleep” (1946) as a librarian when she clearly works in a rare bookshop. Other cases of booksellers (mis-)identified as librarians seem to be under Class V.
Thanks! Looks like I will need to rewatch ‘The Big Sleep’ soon… 🙂