In an earlier post, I had highlighted a clip of Stan Lee revealing his cameo as a librarian in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). Earlier this week, the hubby and I got to see the film at a local drive-in movie theater, along with The Dark Knight Rises. A loooong night (and early morning), but worth it!
If you haven’t seen the film yet, then there are minor SPOILERS ahead.
To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from this latest Spider-Man film, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Andrew Garfield (as Peter Parker) and the ever-adorable Emma Stone (as Parker’s first love, Gwen Stacy) have chemistry to spare, and the supporting cast members, including Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, and Campbell Scott, were all quite solid. (Martin Sheen, I ♥ you.) And yes, I teared up when the construction crews lined up the cranes to clear a path for Spider-Man. Ah, teamwork and selfless acts, they get me every time.
Stan Lee has a cameo in just about every film adaptation of his stories and characters (see here for a detailed list of his cameos), and this one is quite memorable. I carried a tape recorder with me to the film, as I didn’t want to put on a light and distract from the other drive-in moviegoers. Here’s a transcript of what I noted while watching the scene:
Stan Lee plays a school librarian who’s listening to classical music, and it’s like an hour and forty minutes into the film. He’s wearing a black sweater vest and chinos and — [Sam interjects, “bow tie”] — bow tie, white button-down. Oblivious. Kind of like the [librarian in] Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Comic relief. That was like, what, 2-3 seconds? Ok, and they’re in the high school. So, that’s that.
What is Stan Lee’s librarian oblivious about? The fact that Spider-Man and the Lizard are fighting right behind him — and tearing the school library apart! The contrast of the classical music choice is very funny, and Stan Lee as the oblivious School Librarian definitely joins the Comic Relief librarians.
Like this movie, the school librarian herself is a time capsule.
When I noticed that The Last American Virgin (1982) was available for free on our Video-on-Demand list, I told my husband that we had to watch it because it was on my Master List. Can you guess his reaction?
“Is the librarian the title character?”
I should have seen that one coming. (Sigh.) 😉
So who IS the last American virgin of this film? That would be Gary (Lawrence Monoson), the main character in this quintessentially ’80s movie. It’s like a walking, talking time capsule. The music, the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the naivety. The plot is almost interchangeable with the cult classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which was released the same year as this film — teenagers trying to have sex and then dealing with the consequences. Half of the time, I felt the movie nailed (tee hee) the awkwardness of teenage life, and half the time I was shouting at the screen, “Who ARE these people?”
Anyways… a little over an hour into the movie, the main characters finally visit the school library, where everybody seems to be hanging out right before the Christmas holidays. What’s the attraction? Certainly not the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from this “LIBRARY CLOSED!!” sign hanging on the door (see right). This is our first shot of the school library (!), and Sam and I spent waaaay too much time deciphering this sign. We finally figured out it was a drawing of the library doors locked up, with a bomb and some kind of hammer or axe trying to break through.
We hear the school librarian before we see her. Again, the recurring theme is all about service.
Next time, bring that book on time if you don’t want to pay a fine. We charge for every day overdue.
Gary then asks the librarian (played by Blanche Rubin, who gets listed right above “Soda Jerk” in the credits) a question.
You can bet there’s no welcoming chit-chat at this library counter.
Gary: Do you have the October Consumer Reports?
Librarian: What year?
Librarian: I’ll look. [turns to open up a card catalog drawer behind the desk]
Gary then spies one of his best friends, Rick (Steven Antin), who’s busy being a douchebag to the main love interest, Karen (Diane Franklin). No spoilers here; let’s just skip the plot and get straight to the money shot. That lovely wooden card catalog in the background is such a scene-stealer, right? Ohhhhh, yeah. 😉
So, the two friends get into a loud argument (in the shot above, do you see the guy on the left giving them the evil eye?) and gasp! start a fist fight in the library. The librarian is SHOCKED! Let’s check out her reactions:
First comes surprise…
… then comes anger!
Never moving from her counter, she slams her fist on the counter and shouts out:
Stop it! I will not have that in here!
Then she pulls out the big guns:
Get out of here! I will call the principal if you don’t get out of here!
Apparently, the librarian is shouting at Gary specifically, and as he slams the door on his way out, we hear an extra-loud “Oh!” from her. (Maybe she was worried the LIBRARY CLOSED!! sign would fall off.) So we get to hear the librarian coming and going.
The library scenes are quite brief, lasting only about 3 minutes total. But due to those priceless reaction shots, she makes it into the Class III category. And as her scenes both begin and end with an emphasis on rules — and rule-breaking — she exemplifies the Spinster Librarian type. And let’s face it, she’s pretty dowdy in that drab outfit. My husband made an astute observation that the top might have been considered fashionable… like 20 years prior! Like this movie, the school librarian herself is a time capsule. Secondarily, she also serves as an Information Provider.
The school scenes were filmed at Birmingham High School (now known as the Birmingham Community Charter High School), which has starred in several films, TV shows, and music videos. I’m going to assume the school library scenes were also part of the high school.
Throughout the short scene, we get to see quite a few wide shots of the library interior, even during the fight.
This movie, generic plot and all, is actually a remake of a popular 1978 Israeli film called Eskimo Limon (aka Lemon Popsicle), which itself spawned 8 sequels. Seems there’s a lot of fondness out there for The Last American Virgin.
Below is the original theatrical trailer, which includes a flash of the library fight!
Analyzing both the film and TV versions of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
I have a confession to make. Until this past week, I had never seen an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or the movie). That HUGE oversight has now been corrected. Of course, I knew that one of the main characters in the TV version of Buffy included Rupert Giles, the school librarian at Sunnydale High. I didn’t live in a cave during Buffy‘s run, and I even like vampire stories (one of our current faves is The Vampire Diaries). And obviously, I love watching and analyzing librarian portrayals onscreen. So I really don’t have any kind of satisfactory answer as to why I didn’t ever get into Buffy. It may have simply been the timing, as the show started around the time that I began college, and you know, I had other priorities. 😉 Or maybe once I did realize that hey, maybe I should watch that, the show had been on a long time, and getting into it seemed kind of overwhelming.
So, now onto correcting that oversight. Last week, I saw that the 1992 film was available — for free — on my Video-On-Demand list, so I decided to check it out. I wasn’t sure if the same librarian character was in the movie (yes, I know, Buffy fans, don’t crucify me for not knowing this!) or what the connection was between the film and TV series.
Turns out, Joss Whedon HATED the film adaptation of his story, effectively disowning the movie. And I can see why. It’s pretty terrible, yet also kind of awesomely bad in that special, early ’90s way.
Note: This film would be a fantastic drinking game for star cameos! Luke Perry was arguably the biggest name at the time it was released, but I also enjoyed picking out Ricki Lake, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Ben Affleck, David Arquette, Thomas Jane, Paul Reubens, and Hilary Swank (in her film debut!) throughout the movie.
Oh, and there’s no librarian in the movie. The “Watcher” role, Merrick, is played by Donald Sutherland. You can tell he looks embarrassed to be in it.
Through our Hulu subscription, I then watched the first two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the long-running TV series from 1997-2003. And yay, the school library and librarian get major screen time from the beginning! 🙂 Anthony Stewart Head (who forever will be known first in my mind as star of those sexy Taster’s Choice commercials from the late ’80s and early ’90s) plays Giles in a typically British droll and earnest fashion. He’s the Watcher in this version, and I personally LOVE that Whedon chose to place the role of guide and trainer in a library. There’s no mention of Giles’s actual qualifications as a librarian — only that he’s from England (with that accent, he’s got to be smart, duh), and he’s brought a lot of books with him. Giles is definitely a technophobe, as he calls a computer that “dread machine.” (Sigh.) If you want to read more about his character and background, I would start here and here.
The library set is pretty cool, with bookshelves encircling a lounge area. Kind of homey, with lots of dark wood (and shadows). The main monster-fighting gang seem to be the only ones who choose to hang in the library, as they don’t show much concern about others overhearing them talk about vampires and such. It was a little odd, however, to see a cage behind Giles for his introductory shot. Kind of creepy.
And how does Buffy describe Giles (to his face!) in the first episode?
You’re like a textbook with arms.
You need a personality, stat.
Not very flattering, Buffy. But I’m hopeful that will change. 🙂
All in all, I enjoyed my first foray into the Buffy universe. Team Giles!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dir. Fran Rubel Kuzui. Perf. Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Luke Perry. 20th Century Fox, 1992.
“Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The WB, 10 March 1997.
“The Harvest.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The WB, 10 March 1997.
A closer look at the librarian in “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”
During my research of librarian films, I have come across two erotic films, Debbie Does Dallas (1978) and Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy (1976) that reportedly include librarian characters. I haven’t seen either film yet, and I don’t intend to include straight-to-video adult films that include librarians on this site — that’s a whole other subset of Naughty Librarians that I won’t get into. But these two films were both highly successful at the time and considered classics of their kind, produced during the so-called “Golden Age of Porn” where adult films became more mainstream. Just telling it as it is, folks.
The plot of Debbie Does Dallas is quite simple: a group of cheerleaders try to earn enough money to send Debbie to try out for the “Texas Cowgirls” squad (obviously a riff off the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders). How do they earn that money? There’s a reason it’s called the oldest profession in the world, of course. 😉
As I detailed in a earlier post about how I find new titles to watch, I routinely check my Master List against various sources. And imagine my surprise when I found a copy of Debbie Does Dallas in my local community college consortium — not the film, alas, but the play! I had no idea that the film had been adapted for the stage, but indeed, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical was created in 2001 by Susan L. Schwartz for the New York International Fringe Festival. It was adapted by Erica Schmidt, with original musical numbers by Andrew Sherman.
And indeed, there is a librarian in the play, a Mr. Biddle. Here’s how he’s described in the script notes:
Mr. Biddle works at the high-school library. He is repressed and reserved. Biddle is of a forgotten generation in his principles and etiquette. (He is a male character in a porno and he does not want sex.) He is smart, rash, quick to anger and passionate about poetry.
From that description, I immediately thought Anti-Social Librarian, the male equivalent of the Spinster Librarian. This type of reel librarian tends to hoard knowledge, exhibits poor social skills, dislikes people, and focuses on rules. Makes sense, right?
Mr. Biddle is definitely a minor character, turning up in only a few scenes. In Scene 8, “Girls Get Jobs,” the poet cheerleader Donna asks if she can work at the library. He is reluctant, but is convinced by Donna’s scintillating argument: “I could help by watching books and stamping and stuff.” (Sigh.) His response? “Oh, ok.” (Double sigh.)
His biggest and final scene comes in Scene 20, “The Library.” Mr. Biddle catches Donna and her boyfriend Tim fooling around. Angry, he shouts, “You know the rules here. How could you so wantonly break them?” Afraid he will tell her parents, she allows him to spank her (see right). And then he asks her to spank him: “I always wanted to be bent over and spanked by a cheerleader ’cause I’m a bad and nasty boy.” Donna readily agrees, calling him “Bad Biddle.” This sets him back $105.
So is the play successful? The scenes are extremely short, with repeated occurrences of inane dialogue. I lost count of how many times I read, “Oh, ok” and “Ok, bye.” The sex acts are hinted at or simulated or played with bananas (not kidding, see below). In truth, I rolled my eyes at the self-described tone of the play, as set out in the introductory notes:
The style of this piece is: rodeo-porno-football-circus. Every performer must be willing to go over the top and yet NOT BE CAMPY. The performances are meant to be big in size but never winking at the audience.
Does Mr. Biddle’s character in the play mimic his reel counterpart? Apparently so, as according to Frank Vigorito’s review from the 2001 New York International Fringe Festival, “Debbie’s plot and script are word-for-word faithful to the original 1978 film.” And the scenes feel so short because of the removal of the sex scenes, so scenes “seemingly occur about every 30 seconds.” I agree with Vigorito’s final verdict:
Essentially, the play moves from one pointless scene of dialogue to the next, with the audience left waiting for something to look forward to, but that moment never arrives, unless you consider the final curtain.
Schwartz, Susan L. Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, 2002.
“Remember getting trapped in that library? I still have nightmares about that!”
The 1989 film Woof! details the comic adventures of an English boy, Eric (played by Edward Fidoe), who turns into a dog — a Norfolk terrier, to be exact — whenever his nose starts twitching. The movie, although a bit dull and hokey to me, is connected to a long-running (!) British TV series.
Stereotypes abound in this movie. There is the stuffy, child-hating teacher who yells at students to keep off the grass; the absent-minded and slightly buffoonish father; and, of course, the glasses-wearing, sour-faced librarian. This movie seems harmless enough, but I got an overwhelming sense of rules, rules, RULES. There are rules about not walking on the school lawn, no toys in the pool, no dogs allowed, no talking, and so on. Perhaps the boy (subconsciously) simply wants to escape!
The boy becomes determined to figure out why he keeps turning into a dog and tells his parents he’ll be going to the library later. His mother’s reaction? To feel his forehead and ask if he’s all right. It seems in this household, going to the library is odd behavior and cause for concern. Brushing away his mom’s concern, he tells his not-so-bright friend, Roy, at school that they must start by collecting data. Roy sees a light bulb, “Oh, that’s why you asked about the library tickets!”
Their first stop is the school library, a small room with few books available. There doesn’t appear to be any school librarian. The room is filled with older wood-and-metal tables and chairs, a chalkboard, a bulletin board covered with pictures, and a few low bookcases. From one angle, we see a large window along the back wall with a view of trees. There are a few books haphazardly stacked up on one bookcase, and a small 6-drawer card catalog on top of another. Overall, the look is very cluttered and disorganized.
Although the scene is only two minutes long, the message of RULES gets hammered again. Two girls come in and immediately ask, “Have you got permission to be in here?” Then a teacher — the same one who had yelled at them about walking on the grass — bursts in and yells again. “What are you up to?!” The fact that he’s holding a gun in his hand is commented on but never explained. Decidedly odd.
“It’s not easy is it, research?” Eric muses, on their way to the public library. This five-minute scene takes place toward the end of the first hour of the movie. The public library looks cheerful from the outside, with its traditional red brick and gold lettering; it seems quite busy and popular with lots of people going in and out. No “beware of librarian” signs to be seen.
The next shot showcases the main librarian (Sheila Steafel), checking out books with a scanner at the Circulation desk. She appears to be middle-aged, with short blondish hair, glasses perched low on her nose. She wears a tan cardigan and a light blue/grey blouse with an undone bow at the neckline. She wags her finger at two girls, who promptly move to the other side of the librarian’s right side (again, RULES alert!). After the girls have moved to the proper place, the librarian then motions for their library card. There is another librarian, uncredited, with her back to the camera. We see glimpses of her later on; she is of African descent, and she also wears rather conservative clothing (a black cardigan, white button-up shirt, long black-and-white polka-dotted skirt).
We get to see more of the public library, which has many bookcases, light-colored walls, and several informational signs. A character even mentions a second floor. There are several dark wood tables and comfy chairs visible.
The boys apparently find more books, judging by the stack on their table, but their research is cut short. Next, we see the librarian standing in the middle of the floor, in a light tan, calf-length skirt and brown flats, but without her glasses. She’s waving a large bell, a not-so-subtle way to signify closing time. Seeing no reaction from two kids right beside her, she waves the bell right in their faces (see above). Still no words, just crude gestures. After putting the bell back on the desk, she turns to a book cart, then taps impatiently to the man standing on the other side of the cart. He moves quickly (fearing worse her bite or her bark?), and she hurriedly pushes the cart in front of him.
Disaster strikes! Eric turns into a dog at the library. Roy leaves his duffel bag of the library table, where it catches the ire of the librarian, who is busy pushing the cart and clearing up books. When she spies the offensive bag, she rolls her eyes, gives it a glare, huffs, and throws the bag on the cart. While Eric’s friend is trying to figure out a way to get them out of the library without the librarian seeing, the director cuts to the librarian back at the Circulation desk. (Side note: we see the electronic scanner, but no computer. Hmmmm…..) Up to this point, the librarian has been more of the “Actions speak louder than words” type, but she finally speaks up — albeit in a whispering tone — in the presence of an adult (her perceived equal?), a schoolteacher. The teacher, who is also the cricket coach, invites the librarian — and even calls her by her first name, Marjorie, although she is listed only as “Librarian” in the credits — out to the cricket match. The librarian seems horrified at this idea. The teacher, giving no notice to the librarian’s obvious social discomfort, leaves by trilling, “Till this evening.” This prompts the librarian to finally raise her voice, shouting out, “NO! I — ” before breaking off. She seems quite embarrassed at her outburst — breaking her own rules, tsk tsk — and looks around guiltily while biting her nails (see below).
When Roy braves his life to ask the librarian about the missing duffel bag, we see the librarian glare at the boy with pursed lips. She shows no concern, airily telling him that the teacher took the bag. She shows much more concern about getting out of there, as she is in the process of putting her glasses up in a case. The boy, not getting the message from the librarian’s first dismissive smile, earns a scathing warning, “We are CLOSED now, actually” and another dismissive nod. Roy then walks slowly away, carrying out Eric-turned-dog in his other bag. Eric lets out a bark — what a mischief-maker! — which causes a look of confusion on the librarian’s face (in yet another close-up). She purses her lips again, raises her eyebrows, and looks around in confusion, as if she’s hearing things. She puts on her wide-brimmed black hat (which is NOT shaped like a witch’s hat), and that is that.
So what’s the point of the library scenes? Eric thinks of the library first when it comes to research — yay! — and seems to find more info at the public library than at the woefully understocked school library. But the kids are definitely on their own, either way. No help from this librarian. She appears quite dowdy, with a dismissive attitude when it comes to children or library users in general. She is not social — the idea of going out in public to a cricket match scares her into a shout! — and her mannerisms betray this social awkwardness. The only library tasks depicted are checking out books, pushing a cart, picking up books, and telling people to go home.
The public librarian serves as yet another authority figure who presents obstacles for the kids and delivers more rules. She is another guard dog — mirroring the big, scary black dog the boys have to confront every morning on their paper route. But her bark — or glare, in this case — is decidedly worse than her bite. Not a flattering portrait. She serves as both a Spinster Librarian (an uptight rule-monger) and Comic Relief (the target of derision and laughter in socially awkward situations).
Eric succinctly sums up his experience with the public librarian. At the end of the movie, he says, “Anyway, I’m glad it’s over. Remember the swimming baths, the telephone box, getting trapped in that library? Tell you, Roy, I still have nightmares about that!”
Woof! Dir. David Cobham. Perf. Liza Goddard, John Ringham, Edward Fidoe. Miramax, 1989.