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 (Nelson & 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 (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)
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 (Holmes) deals with exams, finishing her thesis, job interviews, and a cop (Bratt) investigating the disappearance of her ex-boyfriend (Hunnam). Then Katie starts seeing her boyfriend again around campus—is she hallucinating, or is he stalking her? A few scenes highlight the socially awkward 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)
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 (Fonda) investigates the mysterious death of a newborn child in a convent. A male 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)
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 (Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (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)
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 elderly archivist/librarian provides information about the house to a priest (Olson).
Role Call: Petra Lea as Mrs. Greer — Information Provider (female)
Angel’s Dance (1999)
Details: Dir. David L. Corley. Perf. James Belushi, Kyle Chandler, Sheryl Lee. York Entertainment, 1999.
Synopsis: Tony (Chandler) trains to become a Mafia hit man and has to kill an innocent woman, Angel (Lee), to complete his training—but he keeps bungling the job. Angel, shy and socially dysfunctional, goes to the library for books on self-defense.
Role Call: Caroline Alexander as Librarian—Information Provider (female)
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)
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 (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, an enthusiastic young female 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, blonde librarian first flirts with Bandini and then rejects him based on his name on his library card.
Role Call: Natasha Staples as Denver Librarian — Information Provider and Naughty Librarian (female)
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 does get to display 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)
Big Bully (1996)
Details: Dir. Steve Miner. Perf. Rick Moranis, Tom Arnold, Julianne Phillips. Warner Bros., 1996.
Synopsis: In this comedy, a writer (Moranis) returns to his Minnesota hometown to teach a creative writing course to middle schoolers. On his first day, he revisits the school library.
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 (Bogart) hired to keep an eye on General Sternwood’s daughter (Bacall). In a brief library scene, a young, blonde librarian is curious about Marlowe’s reading choices. Another female librarian, this time brunette, 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 (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 stern 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 (Snipes), a half-vampire, is on a mission to destroy vampires, while vampire Deacon Frost (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)
Details: Dir. Lance Young. Perf. Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp. Triumph Releasing Co., 1997.
Synopsis: Joseph (Sheffer) and Maria (Lee) go to see a mysterious sex therapist and doctor, Baltazar (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
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
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 a typical, all-American family on a “dream” vacation to Europe. In one scene, the father (MacMurray) goes to the ship’s library and is greeted enthusiastically by the male librarian.
Role Call: James Millhollin as Ship’s Librarian—Comic Relief (male)
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)
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 (Hepburn) finds love with writer Paul Varjak (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)
Cain and Mabel (1936)
Details: Dir. Lloyd Bacon. Perf. Marion Davies, Clark Gable, Allen Jenkins. Cosmopolitan/Warner Bros., 1936.
Synopsis: A prizefighter (Gable) and a struggling Broadway actress (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 middle-aged librarian.
Role Call: Deborah Lobban as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
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 (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 young male librarian sets up microfilm for him in a viewing room.
Role Call: David Peevers as Microfilm Clerk; Robert Monroe as Archives Clerk—both Information Providers (male)
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 (Gordon) and his car, Christine. In a short scene, Stockwell tries to talk to a pretty girl (Paul) in the school library—and incurs the wrath of the spinsterly, middle-aged 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 (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 (Greene), tracks down his daughter while a detective (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 female librarian is later interviewed by a policeman.
Role Call: June Kelly as Librarian—Naughty Librarian/Information Provider (female)
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 is overly complicated, involving 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
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 (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 an older male librarian.
Role Call: John Salew as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
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 (Quaid) sets out to save his son, Sam (Gyllenhaal), who’s trapped in the New York Public Library. After hundreds of people run to the library for safety, Sam talks to the librarian 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)
Details: Dir. Shona Auerbach. Perf. Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small. Miramax, 2004.
Synopsis: A single mother (Mortimer) has been writing her deaf son, Frankie (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 (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)
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. They reveal the different perspectives of a married couple, Eleanor and Conor (played by Chastain and 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)
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 (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)
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 (Hicks) is a shy, quiet girl (pasty skin, curly hair in an unflattering hairstyle, glasses, slumped posture) who gets called a “loser” by others. A few scenes are set in the school library; in one, the school librarian (Asian-American male, middle-aged, glasses, conservative clothing) gives Michelle instructions on shelving books. The film sends a not-so-subtle message that (of course!) the school outcast/nerd works in the library. She is also the first victim of the shooters.
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, Eastwood delivers books to prisoners, and he becomes friends with the prison librarian (Benjamin), another inmate.
Role Call: Paul Benjamin as English—Information Provider/Male Librarian as a Failure (male)
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 (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 (TV, 2001)
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. Her mother, a public librarian, helps raise the child. There are several scenes set in the library, including a party scene!
Role Call: Blair Brown as Hannah Parker — Atypical portrayal; Octavia Spencer as Hildy — Information Provider (female); Debra Orenstein as Young Librarian — Information Provider (female)
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). White and 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)
Details: Dir. Ivan Reitman. Perf. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis. Columbia, 1984.
Synopsis: Comedy about 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 spinsterish 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 Male Librarian
Gideon’s Trumpet (TV, 1980)
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 (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—Male Librarian as a Failure (Prison Librarian)/Information Provider
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 (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 (Mara). Late in the film, Lisbeth researches records in a company’s archives, disgruntling an older archives librarian.
Role Call: Anne-Li Norberg as Lindgren — Spinster Librarian / Information Provider (female)
The Golden Child (1986)
Details: Dir. Michael Ritchie. Perf. Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis. Paramount, 1986.
Synopsis: Private detective Chandler Jarrell (Murphy) sets out to find the “Golden Child,” a Buddhist mystic who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer (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)
Details: Dir. William Dear. Perf. John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Kevin Peter Hall, David Suchet. Universal, 1987.
Synopsis: Comedy about a family who discovers Bigfoot (Hall) and takes him home. In a short scene, 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)
Hear My Song (1991)
Details: Dir. Peter Chelsom. Perf. Brian Flanagan, Tara Fitzgerald, Ned Beatty. Miramax, 1991.
Synopsis: An Irish entertainment swindler (Flanagan) convinces an exiled Irish tenor (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 (male)
Details: Dir. David Mamet. Perf. Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy and Vincent Guastaferro. Triumph Releasing Corp., 1991.
Synopsis: Joe Mantegna stars as conflicted Jewish 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.
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)
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 (Rooney) takes care of his family while his brother serves in WWII. In one touching scene, two young boys go to the public library to look at books even though they can’t read yet, and encounter a friendly female 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 (Day-Lewis) is coerced into confessing to an IRA bombing and spends 14 years in prison trying to prove his innocence. His lawyer (Thompson) tries to locate police records, but the chief archivist is not cooperative.
Role Call: Alan Barry as Archivist Jenkins—Anti-Social Male 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 (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 her and ejects her from the library.
Role Call: Bethel Leslie as Librarian—Spinster Librarian
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 (Connery) investigates the case of a black man (Underwood) on death row in a Florida prison. A newspaper archivist, Delores, helps him find information for his research; she is also known as a flirt.
Role Call: Liz Torres as Delores Rodriguez—Information Provider/Naughty Librarian (female)
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)
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)
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)
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 (Nolte and 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)
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 family getting the 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)
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 (Scott), fascinates mystery writer Leyden (Lorre). In one early scene, Leyden travels to the Bureau of Records in Athens to research Dimitrios’s past and gets help from an easily frustrated archives clerk.
Role Call: Uncredited male—Anti-Social Male Librarian and Information Provider (male)
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 (Grant) becomes a bohemian poet and finds out the harsh world of poverty. After his girlfriend (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 (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: Mr. Moto, a Japanese investigator (played by Hungarian 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 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 (Birch), after running away from his owner (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)
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)
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)
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 (Rutherford) joins a ship that trains and rehabilitates juvenile delinquents—and stumbles onto murder. Stringer Davis, Rutherford’s real-life husband, served as an assistant and comic sidekick (usually the straight man) to Rutherford in her Marple movies.
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
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 (Rutherford) investigates the mysterious death of wealthy Mr. Enderby. Davis plays his usual role in the series (see Murder Ahoy above). In a funny scene, Davis dances the twist with Rutherford.
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
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 (Rutherford) joins a local acting troupe to figure out the real murderer. Davis plays his usual role in the series (see Murder Ahoy above).
Role Call: Stringer Davis as Mr. Stringer, the village librarian—Information Provider/Comic Relief (male)
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 (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 (see Murder Ahoy above).
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)
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 Male Librarians / Information Providers (male)
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 (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 (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 elderly school librarian. It is a memorable opening scene, with perhaps the most crass behavior from a reel librarian!
Role Call: Justine Johnston as Mrs. Whitman—Comic Relief (female)
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)
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 (Bottoms) experiences with a law professor (Houseman) and his daughter (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 (Zane), the protector of the island of Bengalla, travels to New York to stop Xander Drax (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 (Washington), a man with AIDS (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)
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 rich socialite’s (Hepburn) ex-husband (Grant) and a reporter (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)
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, a social outcast, 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)
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 (Paltrow & Eckhart) track down the correspondence and relationship between two Victorian poets (Northam & Ehle). In an early scene, Eckhart checks out a book at the British Museum library and answers questions from a nosy male librarian.
Role Call: Hugh Simon as Librarian—Information Provider (male)
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 (Oldman), who has an unstable relationship with his sexual partner Kenneth (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 Male Librarian; Uncredited female—Information Provider (female)
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)
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 (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)
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 schoolteacher (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 (Keir) and an assistant scientist, 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)
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. African American piano player Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Rollins, Jr.) takes justice into his own hands after white 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)
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 (Lithgow) seeks revenge on the hotshot detective (Washington) who put him away. Early in the film, Blake meets Book Man 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)
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 (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 male librarian brings her a stack of books. In another scene, Rachel’s ex (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. (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 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)
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 (Campbell) returns to help solve murders on the set of Stab 3. Reporter Gail Weathers (Cox) and the actress playing Gail in the film (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)
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 (Hunter) tries to find her missing sister Jacqueline and uncovers a sinister cult. Poet Jason Hoag (Gage) goes to the library to gather clues from cult members’ circulation records; he flirts with the middle-aged librarian, who breaks the rules to give him restricted books.
Role Call: Sarah Selby as Miss Gottschalk, Librarian—Naughty Librarian/Information Provider (female)
Details: Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton, Henry Travers, Hume Cronyn, Patricia Collinge. Universal, 1943.
Synopsis: A young woman (Wright) starts to suspect her favorite uncle (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 closes.
Role Call: Eily Malyon as Miss Cochran—Spinster Librarian/Information Provider (female)
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 (MacNicol) moves to New York City, where he meets Sophie (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 Male 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
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 (McGregor) cannot find any information about a mysterious planet at the Jedi Archives, and the 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)
The Station Agent (2003)
Details: Dir. Thomas McCarthy. Perf. Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Williams. Miramax, 2003.
Synopsis: Finbar McGride (Dinklage), a man born with dwarfism, 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 (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 (Berenger) goes undercover as a high school substitute teacher in order to investigate a gang. The middle-aged 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)
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)
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
Details: Dir. Delbert Mann. Perf. Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young, Audrey Meadows. Universal-International, 1962.
Synopsis: A rich man (Grant) and a young woman (Day) begin a relationship—but she wants marriage while he wants only an affair. In one hilarious scene, Grant and his friend (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)
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 tiresome 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 (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)
Details: Dir. Gregory Poirier. Perf. Jerry O’Connell, Shannon Elizabeth, Jake Busey. Columbia TriStar, 2001.
Synopsis: A raunchy comedy about a young man (O’Connell) who schemes to get his friend (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 spinster librarian—who soon breaks out the leather and whip!
Role Call: Heather Stephens as Jill; Marnie Crossen as Grammy—both Naughty Librarians (female)
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 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)
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 (Garner) grows up in a poor household with a beloved but alcoholic father (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 (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)
The Ultimate Gift (2006)
Details: Dir. Michael O. Sajbel. Perf. James Garner, Drew Fuller, Abigail Breslin, Bill Cobbs. 20th Century Fox, 2006.
Synopsis: Billionnaire Howard “Red” Stevens (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 Latina woman rushes to greet Jason and shows him the library, 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 (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. Not a flattering portait of the library or the librarian.
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 (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 (played by 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, with her hair loosely pinned up. There is also a brief scene actually 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)
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)
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 bell-ringing and an unsociable librarian.
Role Call: Sheila Steafel as Librarian — Spinster Librarian / Comic Relief (female)
Details: Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Perf. Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Owen Wilson. Universal, 2006.
Synopsis: Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are newlyweds, and Carl’s best man, Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on their couch after he loses his job (due to attending their wedding). 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)