(Roughly) Daily

In Praise of “Other”: The Librarian as Film Star…

 

Is it any wonder that older friends and relatives abroad still ask, when learning that one is from the Western U.S.: do you know any cowboys?  Anyone with a sense of America formed from the movies that have been this nation’s leading cultural ambassador for most of the last century might well assume that we are a nation of wranglers, gangsters, reporters, and lawyers.

The invaluable Moira Finnie, blogger for TCM, moderator of the online forum Silver Screen Oasis and proprietor of the blog Skeins of Thought, strikes a blow for the unsung, singling out the librarian:

This rumination on work in the movies began while I was reading the new memoir, Quiet Please, (Da Capo Press). The author offers a look at the experiences of a young, male, very contemporary librarian named Scott Douglas from the other side of the reference desk…  One amusing section of the book concerned the fact that Douglas felt that there was a serious dearth of librarians as role models in the movies. Sure, to the average person, “Marian the Librarian” in The Music Man (1964) may be the quintessential movie librarian. You know the type, frosty on the outside, potentially a molten hottie and closet romantic on the inside, all the while that “Prof. Harold Hill” is hoping she’s really that “sadder but wiser girl” he’s hoping to find in the hinterlands of Iowa during his travels…

Except for Noah Wyle’s three made-for-tv excursions as…(dramatic pause)…the nebbishy but dashing “Flynn Carsen” in The Librarian movies, there do seem to be paltry few positive images of librarians in the movies, especially for males…

So begins a delightful survey of librarians on screen:  “One of the Invisible Professions.”

Library Science teacher Ann Robinson pausing for a reflective smoke with Gene Barry before the destruction of the human race proceeds in The War of the Worlds (1953).

 

As we refrain from unnecessary noises, we might recall that it was on this date in 1271 that Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the end of the Song Dynasty (though Southern Song wasn’t fully conquered until 1276) and the start of the Yuan Dynasty of (Mongolia and) China.  The Yuan Dynasty was a period of consolidation and centralization, and encouragement of science, technology, and trade, creating the China that Marco Polo found at the end of the Silk Road.  It was also the period during which China developed drama and the novel, and saw a marked increased in the use of the written vernacular.

Kublai Khan (source)

 

Written by LW

December 18, 2011 at 1:01 am

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