Reader poll write-up, Fall 2022 | ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985) + its school library setting

As per the winning entry in the most recent reader poll — thanks again to everyone who voted in the poll! — I am analyzing the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club, and in particular, its school library setting. The Breakfast Club earned 75% of the reader poll votes, easily outpacing Good News (1947), Goodbye, Columbus (1969), and Personals (1990, TV movie). I rewatched this movie from my own personal VHS copy, as seen below.

Stack of VHS tapes, with the Breakfast Club on top
Stack of VHS tapes. Does this photo look like a still life portrait of media to you?

There is no actual reel librarian in this “Brat Pack” coming-of-age movie, which means this movie lands in the Class V category, films with library scenes but no actual librarian characters. Almost the entire movie is set in a school library, so I found it a very interesting exercise to rewatch this movie and focus more on the background and library setting.

The film, written and directed by John Hughes (1950-2009), features five teenagers who serve detention together on a Saturday in the school library: “athlete” Andrew (Emilio Estevez); “criminal” John (Judd Nelson); “princess” Claire (Molly Ringwald); “basket case” Allison (Ally Sheedy); and “brain” Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). The cast list also includes the school principal, Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason), and janitor Carl (John Kapelos).

The Breakfast Club Official Trailer #1 – Paul Gleason Movie (1985) HD” video uploaded by Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers, Standard YouTube License

Before detention, these teens know of each other, via their groups/stereotypes, but the film explores how they get to actually know each other. About 90% of the film takes place in the school library, so we also get to know this library setting very well. By the end of rewatching this movie, the school library setting felt as much of a supporting character as the school principal and janitor!

Film’s legacy & criticism

This movie was a legitimate hit in the year it was released, earning over $50 million worldwide. The film’s dialog and themes struck a chord in teenagers who felt seen in the movie, with their fears, trauma, and anxieties validated in a way that had rarely been explored in such depth before on the big screen. It was also respected critically at the time of its release, as well, earning praise from Roger Ebert for having “a surprisingly good ear for the way [teenagers] speak,” and Kathleen Carroll from the New York Daily News highlighting its “exceptional cast — who deserve top grades.”

And the film’s teen classic status endures. For example, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list in 2003, and in 2010, Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies. In 2016, the Library of Congress selected The Breakfast Club for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Some critics, however, were not so generous; for example, critic James Harwood from Variety wrote that the movie “will probably pass as deeply profound among today’s teenage audience.” I laughed at this because that was true for me! When I was a teen, I did think this movie was very deep and profound! Watching this movie has become like a rite of passage into young adulthood for many teens. In this respect, this film has aged well, as a lot of the fears and anxieties that the teens express — pressure over getting good grades, pressure to fit in, pressure living up to your parents’ expectations, feeling like a pawn in-between squabbling parents, not knowing how to express your anxieties, etc. — still ring true today.

But other aspects of this film have NOT aged well, and need to be called out today as problematic, including, but not necessarily limited to: sexual harassment (Claire endures both slut-shaming and virgin-shaming); fatphobia (“That’s a fat girl’s name”); physical violence and abuse (Andrew’s reason for detention, the principal’s violent threat against a student); violation of personal privacy (the principal looks up students’ personal records without authorization, the janitor looks through students’ lockers); anti-LGBTQ+ slurs (the word “faggot” gets tossed around a lot); the blinding lack of diversity (everyone in this movie is White — in a film set in Chicago!!); and lack of accountability (sexual harasser John “gets the girl” at the end, yikes — and Judd Nelson also bullied Molly Ringwald off-screen). It can be uncomfortable to rewatch old favorites, and realize just how racist, misogynistic, and/or otherwise problematic they seem now — because the discomfort is really about how that reflects on you, right? But it’s necessary to sit with that discomfort and call it out. A movie can be both a beloved classic and simultaneously problematic in different ways. It’s necessary to recognize that we each contain multitudes, and that we can continue to grow and change. After all, isn’t that the ultimate point of this movie?

“Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club”

Opening and closing lines of The Breakfast Club (1985)

Filming locations & school library setting

John Hughes set many of his iconic films in and around Chicago, where he grew up. The Breakfast Club takes places at Shermer High School — the first shot of the entire film!

"Shermer High School" front entrance in The Breakfast Club
“Shermer High School” front entrance in The Breakfast Club

Shermer, Illinois, is also the setting in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983, written by Hughes), Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). “Shermerville” was the original name of the current town of Northbrook, Illinois, located north of Chicago, and the high school Hughes attended in real life, Glenbrook North High School, was located on Shermer Road.

The building used for Shermer High School was an actual school that had closed down in 1981, the Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, located northwest of Chicago. Maine North High School had opened in 1970, and the architectural style of blocky concrete is in the Brutalist style, which was a popular low-cost building option for schools and colleges from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Hughes had planned to shoot the film in the actual school library, but it was too small. Therefore, the school library set was constructed in the high school’s gymnasium, but the design of it was based on the school’s actual library. In fact, before rewatching this movie for this post, I was convinced that this movie had been filmed in a real school library, and I was shocked to discover that it was a set! I think it was a smart move to base it on an actual school library; the Shermer High School library is one of the most convincing school libraries I have ever seen onscreen!

School library spaces & collections

Below are the first and final views of the school library in the movie. It seemed fitting that the first view of the library space (at 5:43 mins) was filmed from the front perspective, and the final view of the library (at 1 hour and 34 mins) was filmed from the back perspective.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

The shape of the school library is more or less a long rectangle, with squared-off corners like an emerald shape, with a ground floor plus a mezzanine level lining the sides and overlooking the ground floor. The layout is mostly symmetrical, with skylights mirroring each side of the mezzanine, exit doors at the back of the library on both levels, and two open staircases in the middle of the library on either side. A large clock anchors the center back of the mezzanine level. The central open space of the library has lounge seating, a large statue, and tables and chairs toward the front. Blue-ish fluorescent lighting lines the bottom of the mezzanine level.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

The front part of the library consists of glass-panelled rooms, two rooms per level, set slightly higher the rest of the library and accessible by a ramp. A concrete staircase wraps around one side of this front section — yes, this school library has 3 staircases! The entrance to the library is asymmetrical, opening to the front right side, with a wrap-around counter and book return.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

We get to see glimpses of the library’s resources, collections, and equipment throughout the movie — particularly during the “getting high” and dance sequences — including:

  • Current periodicals (e.g., magazines) and newspapers line the back wall on the ground floor
  • “Librarians selections” collections flank each back corner of the mezzanine level
  • Foreign language room on the mezzanine level
  • Tall bookcases line the walls of the library on both levels, along with lower, mid-height bookcases.
  • Listening booths (or possibly group study booths?) along the mezzanine level
  • Overhead projector tucked away in a corner on the mezzanine level
  • Map and atlas case in the center of the ground floor, below one of the staircases
  • Rolling book carts
  • Microform/film/fiche readers along one side of the ground level
  • Black-rimmed computers/OPACs on one side of the center ground level
  • Sound system room, with records and a microphone, in one of the front glassed-in rooms on the ground level
  • Reference storage room, with film reels and archival boxes, in the other front glassed-in room on the ground level
  • Group study rooms — or small classrooms? — on the top level of glassed-in rooms

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

Card catalogs & call numbers

This school library has an entire wall of card catalogs, with 3 separate card catalog units, as well as computers/OPACs (online public access catalogs). This feels accurate to me, as it reflects the transitional nature of the time period, when libraries had and used both the old-fashioned card catalogs as well as more modern computers. Card catalogs had drawers full of index cards, where you could look up resources in the library’s collection by Title, Author, or Subject Area.

The library also has a lot of signage, in blocky, black letters, on the walls to indicate the location of different collections and resources. This signage also reveals that the library uses the Dewey Decimal classification system, which is a common way for school libraries to organize their non-fiction collections. This system uses combinations of numbers in 10 main classes, from the 000s (General works) to the 900s (History and geography). In this movie, we see glimpses of the sections for Reference, General Works, Philosophy, History, and Language.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

In a confessional scene between Allison and Andrew, we get more close-up glimpses of call numbers on the library books in the 900s area for history and geography. If you’re a regular reader (thank you!), then you’ll know that I look for call number stickers on books in library scenes and settings, because they are a tell-tale sign that indicates actual library books.

The trivia page also revealed that the the Chicago Public Library donated over 10,000 books for use in the movie!

We also see bits of realistic-looking posters around the library, including bulletin boards, a rainbow-colored “library” poster — I remember from my own childhood that my mom had one of these in her school library! — as well as a few large athletic shoe cut-outs that seem kind of random (but kind of realistically random, if that makes sense, like they’re part of a poster campaign from the athletic clubs or something). Props to the propmasters on this movie, as these kinds of details really add to the verisimilitude of this school library setting.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

It’s also interesting to note that card catalog drawers also get a cameo outside the library! When the principal locks John in a storage room in his office, at 50 minutes into the film, we see an old set of card catalog drawers along the back wall.

Old card catalog drawers in the principal's storage room
Old card catalog drawers in the principal’s storage room

A library by any other name…

The library is actually titled the “Learning Resource Center,” a common term/phrase used for school libraries, and this signage is visible at 17:10 minutes into the film on the outside of the front doors, along with the hours. The library is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and closed on the weekends — except when it’s being used for Saturday detention, of course.

A closeup look at the school library's hours and "Learning Resource Center" signage
A closeup look at the school library’s hours and “Learning Resource Center” signage

And from my notes, Brian is the only character who actually says the word “library” out loud. At around 19 mins, Brian reveals that “the school comes equipped with fire exits at either end of the library.”

Of course, the brain of the group would say the word library, and know where the fire exits are, right?! 😉

Library vandalism & destruction

Throughout the movie, we witness how the students — mostly John the “criminal” — casually and nonchalantly destroy, vandalize, or otherwise meddle with library property and resources, including:

  • John pockets cards from the front counter as he enters the library, and later swipes everything off the front counter as he exits
  • John rips pages out a book (the ensuing conversation reveals that it’s a work by Molière, a French playwright)
  • John reshuffles cards in a card catalog drawer and also throws cards on the floor
  • John falls through the library ceiling (after escaping the principal’s storage room through the dropped ceiling)
  • Allison throws a piece of bologna onto the center statue during lunch (it falls off), and John later climbs atop the statue during the dance scene
  • Andrew screams and shatters the glass door for the “foreign language” room during the “getting high” scene

Can you imagine the school librarian(s) coming in Monday morning and having to deal with ripped-up books, shattered glass, and holes in the ceiling? And it will probably take weeks, if not longer, to find and fix/replace all the misfiled or missing cards. Does the principal use the school library for every Saturday detention, and does this kind of destruction happen every time?!

The principal boasts to the janitor that everyone likes him at the school, but I know one person at the school who likely does NOT like him — the school librarian!

Fun facts & trivia

  • As per the IMDb’s trivia page, one of the original proposed titles for the movie was “Library Revolution” ❤
  • The large sculpture in the center of the library resembles a work entitled “Standing Figure, Knife Edge” by British artist Henry Moore
  • After the film wrapped, Hughes gifted the actors pieces of the banisters from the library set
  • Hughes had written other characters in the original script, including Dr. Lange, a Social Studies teacher, and Robin, a gym teacher — but no school librarian character!
  • And as I mentioned earlier in the post, the Chicago Public Library donated over 10,000 books for use in the movie

Continuing the “library revolution”

Is The Breakfast Club a personal favorite of yours? Is the school library set also convincing to you? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used


‘Pride and Prejudice’ follow-up

From clergyman to librarian (and back again)

One major benefit of going back through every post while updating the site — other than, you know, updating the site! — was getting reacquainted with past posts. And I took note when I wrote that I wanted to follow up on some thing, to close the loop on specific questions or ideas. This post is one of those threads I wanted to follow up.

From clergyman to librarian:

Back in Feb. 2014, I analyzed the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, in which the character of the “odious Mr. Collins” was changed from a clergyman in Jane Austen’s original novel to a librarian. And not just any librarian! Lady Catherine de Burgh’s personal librarian.

Here’s how he introduces himself in the 1940 film version (and how I reacted):

How Mr. Collins introduces himself as a librarian
How Mr. Collins introduces himself as a librarian

Back then, I researched a couple of theories about why his character was changed, which included both the height of the “screwball comedy” genre in cinema at the time, as well as the influence of the “Hays Code” that forbid “ridicule of the clergy.”

I also took note back then of the screenwriters and their source material:

[T]he film’s writing credits are lengthy: Aldous Huxley (!) and Jane Murfin are credited as co-authors of the screenplay, which also borrowed heavily from Helen Jerome’s 1934 dramatization of the play entitled Pride and Prejudice: A Sentimental Comedy in Three Acts. I haven’t obtained a copy of the play — and only bits of it are available to read for free online — to check if the character of Mr. Collins was turned into a librarian in Jerome’s version. I doubt it, but it would be nice to close that loop.

When I revisited that original 2014 post during my “revisiting favorite posts” series in Summer 2016, I continued to note that:

Rereading this post made me remember that I still need to get a copy of Helen Jerome’s 1934 dramatization of the play entitled Pride and Prejudice: A Sentimental Comedy in Three Acts, in order to close the loop on whether or not Collins’s profession is changed in the play this film is based on.

So. I finally requested a copy of Helen Jerome’s 1934 dramatization, Pride and Prejudice: A Sentimental Comedy in Three Acts, through my college library’s InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service.

1934 Pride and Prejudice play
1934 Pride and Prejudice play

I now have my answer:

No doubt about it, Mr. Collins is a clergyman in this play.

Clergyman clues in the play:

Here’s how he is introduced, when Mr. Bennet breaks the news that Mr. Collins is coming to visit, in Act I:

ELIZABETH [to her father, Mr. Bennet]: Can he [Mr. Collins] be a sensible man, sir?

LYDIA: He sounds to me a bit of an ass.

MRS. BENNET: Now, Lydia, my love, is that a nice way to speak of a clergyman?

LYDIA: I thought I heard you refer to him as an odious creature a few minutes ago, Mama?

Clergyman introduction in Pride and Prejudice 1934 play
Clergyman conversation

And moments later, Mr. Collins arrives:

MR. BENNET: Mrs. Bennet, let me present the Reverend Mr. Collins, our esteemed cousin.

Act II drops in bits about Mr. Collins’s professional duties as a clergyman. For instance, Mrs. Bennet mentions that:

I suppose our dear cousin Collins is preparing his sermon for Sunday.

And right before he proposes to Elizabeth, Collins confirms that:

I had two sermons to prepare in readiness for my return to my parish.

It only took 5 years to get around to answering that question… but better late than never, right? 😉

Given the fact that this 1934 dramatization, which, along with the source novel, provided the foundation for the 1940 film version — and that this play still highlighted Mr. Collins as a man of the cloth — I think it makes sense that the screenwriters changed (or were forced to change?) Mr. Collins’s profession due to the main reasons I outlined previously. I think it likely that the Hays Code played a more prominent role in this character switch. As I noted back in 2014:

The occupational change seems to serve the absurd and ridiculous qualities of Mr. Collins — we do not pause and wonder at a bumbling librarian, whereas we might be offended at a bumbling clergyman.


Mentions of libraries in the play:

While I had the play on hand, I noted when/if libraries were mentioned at all, as Mr. Bennet uses his own private library as a retreat of sorts — from his wife, assuredly, but also probably from the world? — in the novel. And yes, both Mr. Bennet’s private library AND Lady Catherine de Burgh’s private library are mentioned.

In Act I, Scene I, right at the beginning of the play:

MR. BENNET: Hill! [a manservant] Take this book to the library! I don’t want Miss Lydia to read it.

In Act II, Scene I, Mr. Bennet’s library is also used as a retreat for Elizabeth, during Mr. Collins’s marriage proposal to her:

ELIZABETH: No, Mr. Collins, I will as plainly as possible say no. (She crosses to library door. He tries to get to door. She brushes him aside.) And you need not try to scamper in front of me again. This time I am going out by this door. (Exits R.)

Later, in Act II, Scene III, we get the only mention of Lady Catherine’s private library, during this brief exchange with Elizabeth:

LADY CATHERINE: Ah, you are writing letters, I see, Miss Bennet.


LADY CATHERINE: But why in this rom. We always write our letters in the library.

ELIZABETH: Yes, I know, Lady Catherine — But the library does not possess such a view — and I write with so much more inspiration when looking out on green trees and flowers.

In Act III, Scene I, the library is mentioned in the stage directions, when Lady Catherine is visiting Longbourn to try and intimidate Elizabeth before leaving in a huff:

LADY CATHERINE: I take no leave of you. I send no farewell message to your mother! Miss Bennet, I am seriously displeased.

(Mrs. Bennet comes in quickly from the library R. where she has probably tried to eavesdrop. Looking around room for Lady Catherine.)

Finally, in Act III, Scene II, Mr. Bennet’s library is again mentioned in stage directions, as Darcy makes his move (again) for Elizabeth’s hand. He knocks at the library door, which Elizabeth answers. She comes out of the library, and they sit on the sofa for the final proposal scene.

Library props:

And last but not least, props! I really enjoyed that the play included lists of costumes and props at the end.

Library props in 1934 Pride and Prejudice play
Library props

I’m assuming the following were included as props for the library:

  • 1 hanging shelf (in two sections) is listed in the “Bric a brac, etc.” heading
  • 70 leather bound books are listed in the “Small properties” heading


Did you enjoy this trip down memory lane? Have you seen the 1940 film version of Pride and Prejudice and ever wondered why Mr. Collins was a bumbling librarian, rather than this usual bumbling clergyman self? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used:

First impressions: ‘Captain Marvel’ and its archives scene

Cue the chase-and-fight scene in the archives!

Kicking off our now twice-monthly posting schedule (new posts go live now on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month — sign up for email updates!) is a new “first impressions” post. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, let me remedy that: these posts focus on more current films that I have watched in theaters that include reel librarians and/or library or archives scenes. The resulting “first impressions” posts are necessarily less detailed, as I don’t have the luxury of rewatching scenes and taking notes.


I recently enjoyed watching Captain Marvel, the next movie in Marvel’s Avengers movie series, starring Brie Larson in the title role. I straight-up and unapologetically LOVED this movie. LOVED LOVED LOVED. How much? Let me count the ways:

  • Larson’s easy camaraderie with Samuel L. Jackson as a younger, pre-eyepatch-wearing Nick Fury (the digital erasure of Jackson’s naturally age-lined face was seamless, and I honestly didn’t even think about it while watching the film)
  • The ’90s setting with its cheeky pop culture references and soundtrack
  • Larson’s warm friendship with fellow pilot Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch) and her daughter, Monica (played by Akira Akbar) — I’m realllllllly hoping for Monica’s character returns as a character in the next Avengers movie!
  • Ben Mendelsohn’s rogue-ish charm evident even under several pounds of makeup in the character of Talos
  • The sight of Annette Bening looking bad-ass AF in a leather jacket
  • That last scene between Jude Law and Brie Larson
  • The film’s unapologetically feminist focus
  • That the film was co-directed and co-written by women
  • And last but not least, I felt SO SEEN whenever Nick Fury fell all over himself cooing and petting Goose the cat. This is the correct behavior around cats, and I am here for it. #FlerkensForever

I also was surprised — and appreciative! — of an archives scene that popped up about halfway (?) through the film, and you can spy glimpses of the archives scenes starting at 1:26 into the trailer embedded below:

Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel – Trailer 2” video uploaded by Marvel Entertainment is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

This scene is vital to the plot, as it provides clues to the essential question of the film: Who is Carol Danvers? This question is the center of the film’s second-released trailer, seen above, when you hear Ben Mendelsohn’s voice asking:

“Would you like to know what you really are?”

And over the flashes of the archives scene, you can hear Brie Larson’s voice say:

“I think I had a life here.”

Using bits of fractured memories, Vers/Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel and Fury go to a U.S. Air Force base to look up “Project Pegasus.” In the archives — which feature rows and rows and rows of neatly organized archival boxes — Vers easily finds the file she’s looking for. (I think she pulled down a box labeled “P” for “Pegasus,” but it might have been “L” for Bening’s character Wendy Lawson, but regardless, it was super easy to find — and further evidence for why an organizational system MATTERS, y’all!)

Archival boxes in the records scene in Captain Marvel (2019)
Archival boxes in the records scene in Captain Marvel (2019)
Nick Fury and Carol Danvers in the archives scene in Captain Marvel (2019)
Nick and Carol go fact-finding. Thank goodness for clearly labeled archives!

In that archival box — props to the propmaster for highlighting proper storage of archives, as this type of archival box would look familiar to any archivist or librarian — Fury and Vers discover evidence that she was a pilot presumed to have died in 1989 while testing an experimental jet engine designed by Lawson. This helps trigger more memories, as she starts putting together the pieces of her long-lost identity.

Photograph evidence of Carol Danvers as a pilot on Project Pegasus in Captain Marvel (2019)
Photograph evidence of Carol Danvers as a pilot on Project Pegasus

After this pivotal fact-finding scene in the U.S. Air Force Archives base, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team led by Talos (in disguise) tries to capture them. Cue the chase-and-fight scene in the archives! I also appreciated the automatic lighting used in the archives setting, as this detail is not only realistic to large archival collections (automatic lighting saves money), it also provides cinematic DRAMA during the entire scene, as Fury can’t move without triggering the lights and revealing his hiding spot. Long rows of bookshelves are always cinematic in scope, but adding automatic lighting is the cherry on top of this archival sundae. And they used this lighting effect in the trailer, too, set to beats of music.

Dramatic lighting in the archives scenes in Captain Marvel (2019)
Dramatic lighting in the archives

Alas, there is no archivist in this scene — I guess they didn’t need one since the archives were so well organized?! 😉 Therefore, this film lands in the Class V category, films with no identifiable librarians and/or archivists, although they mention them and/or have scenes set in libraries/archives.

To sum up, a library/archives scene — once again — provides pivotal clues to propel the plot forward. Just one more reason to love this action movie!

Have you seen Captain Marvel yet? What are your thoughts? Did you perk up during the archives scene? Are you #TeamFlerken? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used:

  • Captain Marvel. Dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Perf. Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Bening, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch. Disney, 2019.
  • Captain Marvel (film)” via Wikipedia is licensed under a CC BY SA 3.0 license.

A variety of research scenes in ‘Double Jeopardy’

“Someone said I should try the internet.”

As we wind down this October, I’m back with another film analysis post, this time of the suspense thriller Double Jeopardy (1999), starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.

Here’s the plot synopsis for the film:

“A woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.”

There are so many factual errors in that plot synopsis alone. I won’t go into them here; check out the Goofs page for the film.

Here’s a quick trailer:

Double Jeopardy (1999) Official Trailer – Ashley Judd Movie HD,” uploaded by Movieclips Classic Trailers, Standard YouTube license


There are no actual reel librarians in this film, landing it in the Class V category. However, there are a few research scenes that I found interesting, so let’s dig in, shall we?

Research scene in the library:

After Libby (Ashley Judd) has served her time in prison for the crime of murdering Nick, her husband (Bruce Greenwood), she visits a public library to look up her former friend, the one who adopted Libby’s son, Matty. This library scene occurs 35 minutes into the film, and it was filmed at the main Vancouver Public Library in British Columbia. (I’ve been there!)

Research scene filmed in the Vancouver Public Library
Research scene filmed in the Vancouver Public Library

Since Libby’s been in prison the last 6 years, she’s not used to computers or concepts such as email. (Remember, this film was released in 1999.) She even says to a young man who stops to help her out on the computer that “Someone said I should try the internet.” I also really hope that “someone” was NOT a librarian!

This young man asks her a few questions — essentially doing a “reference interview” although it is clear that he is NOT a reel librarian. How do I know that?

  • He never identifies himself as a librarian
  • He is casually dressed, with a backpack or messenger bag (most likely marking him as a student)
  • He only agrees to help her after she reveals that she’s not looking for a guy friend (gross)
  • His role in the credits is listed as “Handsome Internet Expert,” hah!

After learning that her friend was a school teacher, he recommends that they start at the Washington State Department of Education directory site. Bingo!

Note:  There is no “Washington State Department of Education,” so this is a factual error. The Washington state educational agency is called the “Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction,” otherwise known as OSPI.

While helping her, the young man continually attempts to flirt with her. This is Libby’s priceless reaction:

Screenshot from 'Double Jeopardy' (1999)
Epic eye roll

After getting what she needs, Libby expertly sends the guy on his way by revealing that she had been convicted of murdering her husband. Buh-bye!

This library scene, with nary a reel librarian, lasts a total of 2 minutes. It is effective in helping Libby locate her friend, which gives her the next clue in tracking down her husband.

The best thing about this scene? The old-school web site designs, full of tables and frames. Ahhhhhhh, good times. 😉

Website screenshots from 'Double Jeopardy' library research scene
Remember when websites used to look like this?!

You can view the entire library research scene below.

Double Jeopardy (4/9) Movie CLIP – Library Pick-Up (1999) HD,” uploaded by Movieclips, Standard YouTube license

Research scene in the newspaper archives:

Fifty-eight minutes into the film, we next see Libby researching the death of her friend — she suspects at the hand of her husband! — by using microfilm in a local newspaper’s archives. It’s funny, Libby seems much more comfortable using microfilm than she did using a computer. That subtle body language is a nice touch. You can tell it’s a newspaper archives room because in the foreground, you can see newspapers being printed.

Screenshot from 'Double Jeopardy' (1999)
A microfilm machine? Finally, something she knows how to use!

This scene lasts less than 30 seconds, but it provides a clue that leads Libby to the next step. In the photo used in the newspaper story about her friend’s death, Libby recognized a painting in the background.

Clue in the newspaper clipping
Clue in the newspaper clipping

Research scene in an art gallery:

And this next clue leads Abby to a particular painter, Wassily Kandinsky, her husband used to collect. So she heads to a local art gallery and asks the gallery owner to try and track down any purchasers of recent paintings by that artist. The gallery owner looks up the Art Net website for this info, while Libby looks on over his shoulder. (Nice reversal of the first research scene, where a guy looked over her shoulder at the computer!)

Research in the art gallery
Research in the art gallery

Fun fact:  The Art Net site still exists! It is a major art site used to “find artworks for sale, online auctions, top galleries, leading artists, and breaking art market news from around the globe.”

Below is a “then and now” collage from how the site (supposedly) looked in 1999, and how it looks now.

Then and now comparison of Art Net website
Then and now comparison of Art Net website

This art research scene lasts only a couple of minutes.

Adding up the value of research:

In total, all three scenes add up to less than 5 minutes total of screen time in Double Jeopardy, but they managed to pack in:

  • three different types of research;
  • different kinds of research tools, including websites and microfilm; as well as
  • different research locations, including a public library, newspaper archives, and an art gallery.

And each time, the research leads to vital clues that lead Libby to locating her husband and child.

All in all, Libby comes across as quite resourceful. My final thought is how much more quickly she might have tracked her husband down if she had utilized the resources of a reel librarian… 😉

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Indiana Jones contradicts himself in ‘Crystal Skull’

“The real/reel Indiana Jones would never say ‘If you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library’!”

Last week, we looked at Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), in which Indiana Jones praised the library, stating, “Seventy percent of all archeology is done in the library. Research. Reading.” This week, let’s take a look at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and a library scene in which Indiana Jones completely contradicts himself.

First up, a trailer to set the context for this most recent film in the series:

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers,” uploaded by Movieclips Classic Trailers, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License

Once again, as in the previous film in the series, we get a scene of Indiana Jones teaching. Twenty years later, he’s still wearing the same three-piece suit, polka-dotted bow-tie, and round glasses:

20 years later, Indiana Jones still teaching in the same suit and bow tie
20 years later, Indiana Jones still teaching in the same suit and bow tie

The library scene:

A little over a half-hour into the film, Indiana Jones meets with “Mutt” Williams (Shia LaBeouf), a guy with a chip on his shoulder the size of his motorcycle. Indy jumps onto the back of Mutt’s motorcycle to escape from Russian agents who are after him. To finally shake off the agents, they motor into… what else? The library!

Why wouldn't you drive into a library to escape Russian agents?!
Why wouldn’t you drive into a library to escape Russian agents?!
Interior of the library scene
Interior of the library scene

Although this scene lasts just under a minute total, Spielberg makes the most of it.

This exterior of the library scene was filmed outside Yale University’s iconic Sterling Memorial Library, standing in for Indiana Jones’s fictional Marshall College library. The interior of the library scenes were actually filmed in Yale’s dining hall!

Everyone is stunned to hear a noise in the library, let alone a motorcycle!

What's that noise? A motorcycle in the library, what else?
What’s that noise? A motorcycle in the library, what else?

The two nearly run over a male student with a huge stack of books in his arms:

Slow down, save the books!
Slow down, save the books!
The books go flying, as does the motorcycle
The books go flying, as does the motorcycle

The guy’s books go flying, as does the motorcycle swerving to miss him. Indy, Mutt, and the motorcycle skid under a batch of tables, finally coming to a stop in front of one of Indy’s students. (That is a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

Fun fact:  This student in the library is played by Chet Hanks, the son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

I have a question...
I have a question…

And of course that student, unfazed by loud noises or sliding motorcycles and undeterred in his quest for knowledge (can you tell I think he’s the real hero of this scene?!), has a question for Dr. Jones:

Student in LibraryExcuse me, Dr. Jones? I just had a question on Dr. Hargrove’s normative culture model.

Indiana JonesForget Hargrove. Read Vere Gordon Childe on diffusionism. He spent most of his life in the field. If you want to be a good archeologist, you got to get out of the library!

Screenshot from the library scene in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008)
… and I have a dumb answer.

BOO. Boo, I say. BOO.

And I am not the only one incensed by this scene and total about-face for Indy’s view of the library and its vital role in research and archeology.

The trivia on the Amazon Prime version of the film also pointed out this contradiction:

Trivia about the library scene in 'Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull" (2008)

And my overseas counterpart, Colin Higgins from Libraries at the Movies, messaged me this:

Do you like Crystal Skull? I don’t, at all. One of the reasons I feel it must be non-canonical is Indy’s dissing of libraries after his motorbike ride through Yale’s Sterling. The real/reel Indiana Jones would never say ‘If you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library’!

I love Colin’s wording here, that (1) this film in the series is non-canonical because of its treatment of libraries, and (2) “dissing of libraries” is totally not in Indy’s character. Agreed on both counts!


I also enjoyed this extra bit of trivia/goofs from Prime, delving into the mention of Vere Gordon Childe in Indiana Jones’s advice to the student:

Trivia about the library scene in 'Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull" (2008)

Hah! So Vere Gordon Childe, an Australian archeologist (1892-1957), did spend almost his entire career in the library! And OF COURSE I double-checked this. While he did oversee excavation of archaeological sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Childe is indeed most well-known for being a “great synthesizer” of archeological research, publishing over 240 articles and 26 books in his lifetime. And Childe was HIMSELF librarian of the Royal Anthropological Institute at one time (!), so I don’t think he would have EVER advised a student to “get out of the library.”

So. Indiana Jones not only contradicts himself — and one of the primary messages and themes from the previous film — he GETS IT WRONG.

I think it’s clear that Indiana needs to get back to the library, stat! (Without the motorcycle this time.) 😉

Extras in the library scene in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008)
Extras in the library scene in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ends up in the Class V category, as there are no reel librarians identified or distinguishable from all the other people in the library scene.

Continue with conversation:

What are your thoughts about this film in the Indiana Jones series and this library scene? Please leave a comment and share!

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