These are films with no identifiable librarians, although they might mention librarians or have scenes set in libraries. Some of these films have been mistakenly listed on other sites or lists of reel librarians.
*Spoiler Alert* The following annotations may contain important plot details.
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
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Details: Dir. Otto Preminger. Perf. James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell, Eve Arden, George C. Scott. Columbia Pictures, 1959. Based on the novel by John D. Voelker, under the pen name of Robert Traver.
Synopsis: A film based on a real-life 1952 case in which the novel’s author, John D. Voelker, was the defense attorney. Lawyer Paul Biegler (Stewart) defends Lt. Manion (Gazzara), who is charged with murder of a local man. Biegler argues temporary insanity and pulls an all-nighter in a law library to find a case to use as precedent.
An Angel at My Table (1990)
Details: Dir. Jane Campion. Perf. Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson. New Line, 1990. Based on Janet Frame’s autobiographies To the Is-land, An Angel at My Table, and The Envoy from Mirror City.
Synopsis: A film based on the life of Australian writer Janet Frame, who suffered many years in a mental institution as a young woman. As a young girl, she visits the library to get books for her family, but there is no librarian in sight.
Batman Returns (1992)
Details: Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken. Warner Bros., 1992.
Synopsis: Batman (Keaton) faces the Penguin (DeVito) and Catwoman (Pfeiffer) in this sequel. One prominent librarian film site lists Michelle Pfeiffer as a librarian, but she is clearly identified in the film as secretary to Max Shreck (Walken).
Details: Dir. Penny Marshall. Perf. Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, John Heard, David Moscow. 20th Century Fox, 1988.
Synopsis: A boy’s wish to be big comes true—literally. In one scene, the boy and his friend go to City Hall (or perhaps a Public Works building but most definitely not a library) and get directed to Consumer Affairs, down the hall, to fill out forms for a list of area carnivals and fairs.
Details: Dir. Richard Brooks. Perf. Glenn Ford, Anne Francis, Louis Calhern, Sidney Poitier. MGM, 1955. Adapted from the novel by Evan Hunter.
Synopsis: A very earnest film about teaching. Glenn Ford plays Richard Dadier, a veteran who wants to teach and make a difference in an inner-city school. The beginning scenes of the film go to extreme lengths to illustrate the juvenile delinquent behavior outlined in the title introduction. One of those scenes takes place in the school library, in which a student sexually assaults a woman teacher. No school librarian mentioned or seen, and no other scenes afterward set in the school library.
Details: Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Anny Ondra, John Longden, Cyril Ritchard. British International Pictures, 1929. Adapted from the play by Charles Bennett.
Synopsis: Alice, a young lady and daughter of a shopkeeper, has a boyfriend who’s a detective at the Scotland Yard. One night, she goes on a date with an artist, who attempts to rape her in his studio. She kills him in self-defense, but a witness later tries to blackmail Alice and her boyfriend. An exciting police chase culminates atop the Round Reading Room at the British Museum.
Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
Details: Dir. Gabriel Pascal. Perf. Vivien Leigh, Claude Rains, Stewart Granger. United Artists, 1945.
Synopsis: One prominent librarian film site lists Ernest Thesiger, who plays Theodotus, as a librarian, but Theodotus introduces himself in the film as a royal tutor. Perhaps part of the confusion stems from when Theodotus tries to save the library of Alexandria (which had caught on fire from burning ships in the harbor), but his love of books is understandable as a self-described “teacher of kings.”
Details: Dir. Lasse Hallström. Perf. Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Lena Olin, Charlie Cox. Buena Vista Pictures, 2005.
Synopsis: World-famous lover Casanova reflects back on his adventures in Venice. Even though Casanova ended up in real life a librarian for a private estate, libraries and librarians are never mentioned in this film. There is, however, a literary angle explored in the film, and a young lady, Francesca Bruni (played by Sienna Miller), visits a libreria, which is Italian for bookstore. There are a few scenes throughout the film set in this bookstore.
Details: Dir. Tay Garnett. Perf. Martha Scott, William Gargan, Edmund Gwenn. United Artists, 1941. Based on the novel Miss Bishop by Bess Streeter Aldrich.
Synopsis: Miss Bishop (Scott), a college English professor, reflects back on her life. Miss Bishop advises a female student to take the librarian’s course because of her “amazing memory”; we later find out the student became a “world-famous historian” instead. At one point, Miss Bishop also tells the university president (Gwenn) that she is leaving to become an assistant librarian in New York, but he convinces her to stay on at the college. Therefore, there is no actual librarian in this film, but it is interesting that the film mentions a college librarian course.
The Chosen (1981)
Details: Dir. Jeremy Kagan. Perf. Maximilian Schell, Rod Steiger, Robby Benson, Barry Miller. Analysis Film Releasing Corp., 1981.
Synopsis: A young Jewish teenager (Robby Benson) tells his friend, Reuven (Barry Miller), that he’s been secretly reading books in the library, because his father (Rod Steiger) is a strict Hasidic rabbi. He tells Reuven “this man in the library” has been showing him things to read, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and psychology. In the one scene set in a library, Reuven goes to see his friend in the library, and the “man in the library” turns out to be Reuven’s own father, who is referred to several times as a scholar and a writer—not a librarian.
The Comfort of Strangers (1990)
Details: Dir. Paul Schrader. Perf. Christopher Walken, Natasha Richardson, Rupert Everett, Helen Mirren. Paramount, 1990. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan.
Synopsis: In this stylized thriller, a young couple (Richardson and Everett) on holiday in Venice are drawn into a stranger’s (Walken) mysterious fantasies. There is no librarian present in the film.
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)
Details: Dir. Peter Greenaway. Perf. Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Richard Bohringer, Alan Howard. Miramax, 1989.
Synopsis: A highly stylized film about a crime boss’s wife (Mirren) who carries on an affair with another man (Howard) at her husband’s restaurant. Howard plays a bookseller—not a librarian—and in one scene, he takes Mirren to his book warehouse.
Details: Dir. Marco Brambilla. Perf. Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt. Warner Bros., 1993.
Synopsis: Sylvester Stallone plays John Spartan, a cop who is brought out of cryogenics in order to pursue an old enemy (Wesley Snipes) running rampant in a future, nonviolent society. Sandra Bullock also co-stars as Lenina Huxley, a cop in the future. About an hour into the film, Lenina mentions visiting the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library to find archives of John’s past cases.
Double Jeopardy (1999)
Details: Dir. Bruce Beresford. Perf. Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish. Paramount, 1999.
Synopsis: Libby Parsons (Judd) is convicted for her husband’s murder—and then sets out for revenge after she finds out he faked his death. Libby does go to a library (filmed at the Vancouver Public Library) to look up an address on the Internet. A young man helps her—and tries to flirt with her. He is clearly not a librarian, as listed on some other sites; he is listed in the credits as Handsome Internet Expert. He is more likely a student, as he is wearing casual clothes and carrying a backpack. There are people in the background, but the focus is not clear enough to discern any librarians. Libby also goes to a newspaper archives office (newspapers roll off the press in the background) to look up articles, but again, no librarians or archivists visible.
Details: Dir. Douglas Hickox. Perf. Beryl Reid, Harry Andrews, Peter McEnery. Canterbury Film Productions, 1970. Based on the play by Joe Orton.
Synopsis: It takes a comedy of manners and twists it through a lens of satire and pitch-black humor. The main plot involves the opportunistic Mr. Sloane (Peter McEnery) who lodges with an eccentric family, consisting of the aging nymphomaniac Kath (Beryl Reid), her uptight brother Ed (Harry Andrews), and their doddery Dadda (Alan Webb). Kath lies to Ed, saying she met Sloane in the library.
Details: Dir. François Truffaut. Perf. Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack. Universal Pictures, 1966. Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury.
Synopsis: In this dystopian, futuristic tale, firemen burn books rather than put out fires. This version of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel was directed by French New Wave director Francois Truffaut and starred Julie Christie in a dual role and Oscar Werner as Montag, the fireman who falls in love with books, the very thing he’s charged with burning. There is a hidden library that’s discovered by the firemen, plus final scenes in the book that focus on the “Book People,” but there are no actual librarians in the film.
The Final Cut (2004)
Details: Dir. Omar Naim. Perf. Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino. Lions Gate, 2004.
Synopsis: In this science-fiction thriller, some people have Zoe implants, which record a person’s memories during their lifetime. When they die, a Cutter edits together the footage for a Rememory service—basically, censoring out the “bad” bits for the sake of the family. Alan Hakman (Williams) is a Cutter who finds out he has been implanted with a Zoe chip, a big no-no for Cutters. One resource lists his on-and-off lady friend, Delila (Sorvino) as a “rare-book librarian.” However, in the film, she appears to be a bookstore owner—and possibly, a restorer of rare books as part of the business (she gives a stack of old books to an assitant and says to him, “Put it in archives, very gently”). We first see her through a large storefront window, as Hakman looks at her from the sidewalk, and she later says to him, “Store’s still open. It’s the 11:30 rush.” Books are shelved and stacked every possible place—on shelves, on the floor, on counters, on top of bookcases—again, contributing to the look and feel of a bookstore, rather than an organized library.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (aka The Hideaways, 1973)
Details: Dir. Fielder Cook. Perf. Ingrid Bergman, Sally Prager, Johnny Doran. Warner Home Video, 1973. Based on the book by E. L. Konigsburg.
Synopsis: Two siblings, Claudia and her brother, Jamie, run away from home to stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They try to solve the mystery of the new angel statue, rumored to be the work of Michelangelo, which leads them to the statue’s donor and famous recluse, Mrs. Basil E. Frankerweiler. They start their research of Michelangelo at the public library (but no librarians in sight).
Details: Dir. Paul Feig. Perf. Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones. Columbia Pictures, 2016. Based on the 1984 original film.
Synopsis: Remake of the 1984 original Ghostbusters, with female leads. This film also begins in a library, although this time a private library in a house museum called the Aldridge Mansion. The ghost in the opening scenes is not a reel librarian, however, but rather the ghost of an Aldridge family member. Also includes “drive-by cameos” of the New York Public Library central branch and the Columbia University Library.
Details: Dir. Niels Arden Oplev. Perf. Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Sven-Bertil Taube. Yellow Bird Films, 2009. Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.
Synopsis: In this original Swedish version of the first book of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larrson, Noomi Rapace plays the title role. Although both the book and the 2011 American film version include the character of Lindgren, the archives manager at Vanger Industry’s corporate headquarters, this original film version does not. It abbreviates the archives scene. There is another very brief library scene when Lisbeth and Mikael research newspaper reports of earlier murders, but no librarian appears in that scene, either.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Details: Dir. Steven Spielberg. Perf. Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett. Paramount, 2008.
Synopsis: A disappointing film in many ways, perhaps the biggest disappointment comes when Indiana Jones (Ford) and wannabe biker (LaBeouf) drive a motorcycle through the university library (but no librarians to be seen). Wrecking a library is bad, but what Indiana Jones shouts to a nerdy student is worse: “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library.” (!@#?!) This directly contradicts what Indy had said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he had championed the library: “Seventy percent of archaeology is done in the library.” Sigh.
The Kennel Murder Case (1933)
Details: Dir. Michael Curtiz. Perf. William Powell, Mary Astor. Warner Bros., 1933. Based on the novel by S. S. Van Dine.
Synopsis: Well-known detective Philo Vance returns again, and this is William Powell’s fourth appearance as Vance. This is often regarded as the best of the Philo Vance screen adaptations, and it is a classic “locked room” kind of mystery. No librarians, but the film features a private library, and a book called Unsolved Murders is central to the mystery plot.
Details: Dir. Gordon Parks. Perf. Kyle Johnson, Mira Waters, Alex Clarke. Warner Brothers/Seven Arts, 1969. Based on the novel by Gordon Parks.
Synopsis: A coming-of-age story of Newt, an African-American teenager growing up in 1920s Kansas. No library or librarian seen in the film, but Newt covers up for his girlfriend, Arcella, in one scene by telling her mother that Arcella is at the library.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Details: Dir. Max Ophüls. Perf. Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians. Universal, 1948.
Synopsis: A woman (Fontaine) develops a lifelong passion for a concert pianist (Jourdan), who never remembers her. In one scene, she goes to the library to look up a book on her pianist idol, and there is a man sitting at a desk behind her who looks annoyed when she makes noise. There is no indication, however, that he is a librarian and not simply a fellow library patron. He is unlisted in the credits.
Libeled Lady (1936)
Details: Dir. Jack Conway. Perf. Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy. MGM, 1936. Based on the story by Wallace Sullivan.
Synopsis: The plot of this screwball comedy involves a newspaper editor (Spencer Tracy), his long-suffering fiancée (Jean Harlow), and his lawyer (William Powell), who aim to compromise a high-society lady (Myrna Loy) before she can sue the paper for libel. To this end, lawyer Bill Chandler (Powell) sets sail on an ocean liner to England, to make contact with the high-society lady, Connie (Loy). In an attempt to cozy up to her, he does a little research on her personal interests, first reading newspaper articles about her father and his love of fishing, and then ringing the ship’s steward for books on angling.
The Lost Tree (2016)
Details: Dir. Brian A. Metcalf. Perf. Lacey Chabert, Scott Grimes, Michael Madsen. Red Compass Media, 2016.
Synopsis: After a traumatic accident, a man moves to an isolated cabin. After strange things start happening at the cabin, he goes to a public library to conduct research.
Lucky Jim (1957)
Details: Dir. John Boulting. Perf. Ian Carmichael, Hugh Griffith, Terry-Thomas, Sharon Acker. Kingsley-International, 1957. Based on the book by Kingsley Amis.
Synopsis: Struggling professor Jim Dixon (Carmichael) tries to make a name for himself at a stuffy university. Of course, all kinds of mishaps ensue. In one scene, he is researching at the college library and encounters Margaret, a neurotic woman who believes they have a serious relationship. However, she is clearly not a librarian as she wears long, black professor’s robes; she is also identified as a lecturer in the source book.
Details: Dir. Paul Mazursky. Perf. Robin Williams, Maria Conchita Alonso, Elya Baskin, Cleavant Derricks. Columbia, 1984.
Synopsis: During a Soviety circus tour, Russian saxophone player (Williams) defects to the U.S. in the middle of Bloomingdale’s. In one scene, he and a couple of friends find themselves in a downpour after watching a movie. They take shelter beside a branch of the New York Public Library.
Details: Dir. Ivan Reitman. Perf. Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Farris, Rainn Wilson, Eddie Izzard. 20th Century Fox, 2006.
Synopsis: Uma Thurman plays Jenny Johnson as well as her superhero alter ego G-Girl. She starts dating Matt (Luke Wilson), but goes crazy when he breaks up with her — like throwing-a-shark-into-his-apartment-kind-of-crazy. Although initially described as “an uptight librarian on the outside,” we find out Jenny’s an art curator.
Night at the Museum (2006)
Details: Dir. Shawn Levy. Perf. Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke. 20th Century Fox, 2006. From the book by Milan Trenc.
Synopsis: Ben Stiller plays Larry, who gets a job as a night guard at the Museum of Natural History, where history comes alive… literally. In one scene, he researches different historical figures and events, which includes a trip to a bookstore (not a library).
Details: Dir. Jon Turteltaub. Perf. John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker. Touchstone Pictures, 1996.
Synopsis: A small-town guy, George Malley (Travolta), becomes supersmart after seeing a light in the sky one night. And because George starts reading multiple books a day, the library is mentioned several times throughout the movie. They even hold a library book fair showcasing all the library books he’s read in the past 2 months! Alas, no librarian.
Details: Dir. Brett Ratner. Perf. Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson. Universal, 2002. Based on the book by Thomas Harris.
Synopsis: Ex-FBI agent Will Graham (Norton) needs to look up a quotation he gets from Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins). He gets help from a bookseller (not a librarian), who looks like a 1980’s Madonna wannabe.
Details: Dir. Mike Nichols. Perf. Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Rebecca Miller. Paramount Pictures, 1991.
Synopsis: After being shot, a lawyer suffers brain damage and loses his memory. He reconnects with his wife and daughter as he learns how to walk, talk, and live again.
Details: Dir. Marc Lawrence. Perf. Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney. Castle Rock Entertainment, 2014.
Synopsis: A washed-up screenwriter, Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant), starts teaching a screenwriting class at Binghamton University to make ends meet. There is a brief scene set in the library stacks and private study rooms during the film’s credits, but no librarian in sight.
Details: Dir. John McTiernan. Perf. Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn. MGM, 2002. Based on the short story “Roller Ball Murder” and 1975 ‘Rollerball’ screenplay by William Harrison.
Synopsis: Remake of the 1975 ‘Rollerball’ cult classic film, which included a couple of scenes in libraries — known as “computer centers” in the future. This action-heavy remake does not include any library-related scenes.
Details: Dir. H. Bruce Humberstone. Perf. Virginia Mayo, Ronald Reagan, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Thaxter. Warner Bros., 1952. Based on the play The Male Animal by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent.
Synopsis: This 1952 Technicolor musical comedy stars Virginia Mayo as “Hot Garters Gertie,” a former burlesque dancer who saves up to go to college. Although set on a college campus, there is no library, or librarian, to be seen.
Details: Dir. Walter Lang. Perf. Robert Young, Maureen O’Hara, Clifton Webb, Ed Begley. 20th Century Fox, 1948. Based on the novel Belvedere by Gwen Davenport.
Synopsis: Eccentric Lynn Belvedere (Webb) answers a family’s ad for a live-in babysitter and shakes up the family and the neighborhood with his manner and methods. A few scenes show the Book Shoppe Proprietress (Mary Field); she is not a librarian as listed on some other sites.
Details: Dir. Wesley Ruggles. Perf. Lana Turner, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Dame May Whitty. MGM, 1943.
Synopsis: Lana Turner as Peggy Evans, a small-town “soda squirt” who leaves town to find adventure, and her former boss (Robert Young) finds her posing as an heiress in New York. No librarian, but Peggy visits the New York Public Library’s newspaper archives to look up articles of missing heiresses.
Details: Dir. Phil Alden Robinson. Perf. Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier. Universal, 1992.
Synopsis: A team of eccentric experts test out security weaknesses but get mixed up in international intrigue. The film tries to be cutting-edge, but it’s best when it embraces its old-fashioned wit. No librarian in sight or mention of libraries.
Details: Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Leo G. Carroll, Michael Chekhov. Selznick International, 1945. Based on the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes by Francis Beeding.
Synopsis: A psychiatrist (Bergman) realizes that the mental hospital’s new director, Dr. Edwardes (Peck), is an imposter and suffers from paranoid amnesia. They go on the run to find out what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. There is no actual librarian in this film, although a character in the film guesses that her occupation is that of a librarian.
Details: Dir. David Lean. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi. United Artists/Criterion, 1955. Based on the play by Arthur Laurents.
Synopsis: One well-known source lists Katharine Hepburn as a librarian in this film about a single woman (Hepburn) who travels alone to Venice and has a brief, but memorable, love affair with an Italian shop owner (Brazzi). She clearly identifies her occupation in the film as a “fancy secretary”—so she may be a spinster, but not a Spinster Librarian.
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Details: Dir. Sydney Pollack. Perf. Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow. Paramount Pictures, 1975. Based on the novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady.
Synopsis: Robert Redford plays a CIA researcher whose code name is “Condor.” His co-workers are killed by a team of assassins, and Condor goes on the run to figure out why. No librarians, but the team of researchers work at a building whose front is “American Literary Historical Society.”
Details: Dir. Jim Gillespie. Perf. Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson. Columbia TriStar, 1998.
Synopsis: College students keep getting killed off in scenarios based on urban legends. Is there a serial killer on an urban legend killing spree? Early on in the film, Natalie (Alicia Witt) heads off to the college library to research urban legends.
Details: Dir. Timur Bekmambetov. Perf. James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Common. Universal, 2008. Based on the comic book series by Mark Millar & J.G. Jones.
Synopsis: James McAvoy stars as Wesley, a regular guy who finds out one day he shares his (dead?) father’s super-human assassin skills. He gets trained by other bad-ass assassins (Angelina Jolie, etc.). There are several scenes set in a warehouse library, including the final showdown fight, but no librarian to be seen (or shot at).
Details: Dir. David Wain. Perf. Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Paul Rudd. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2001.
Synopsis: Over-the-top comedy about the last day of summer camp, set in 1981. In one scene, the camp director (Garofalo) and an astrophysicist on vacation (Hyde Pierce) go to the public library to check out books about the other’s interests, to try and impress each other. They both pore over bookshelves in the library, on opposite sides of the same bookcase, yet totally unaware of each other. No librarian in sight in this brief scene.
What’s New Pussycat? (1965)
Details: Dir. Clive Donner. Perf. Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Romy Schneider, Woody Allen. United Artists, 1965.
Synopsis: In one scene, Carole (Schneider) and Victor (Allen) argue in a library, and another man takes a book that Carole wanted. To prove his love for her, Victor “fights” with the man. No librarian in sight, although there is a quiet, bespectacled man (uncredited in the film cast) reading in the corner who doesn’t stir throughout the entire fight scene. A librarian, surely, would have been outraged by such destructive behavior in a library.
Wings of Desire (1987)
Details: Dir. Wim Wenders. Perf. Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk. Road Movies Filmproduktion (DVD released by MGM), 1987.
Synopsis: An angel in Berlin falls in love with a mortal and wishes to become human. There are three scenes set and filmed in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library), where angels often go to hang out with humans. There are no identifiable reel librarians in the library scenes, however.
Details: Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. Paramount, 2007. Based on the non-fiction book by Robert Graysmith.
Synopsis: The saga of how the quest to track down the Zodiac killer affects the lives of reporters and investigators. Graysmith, a newspaper cartoonist, never gives up in his own investigation and checks out library books to help him crack codes from the killer’s ciphers.