I am a library and bookstore lover, and some of my all-time favorite movies are set in them. I mentioned You’ve Got Mail in my previous blog on books in the movies, and though it certainly fits this category, I won’t mention it now. Here are my top 5 movies featuring libraries and/or bookstores:
Number 1: Desk Set (1957) starring Katharine Hepburn (Bunnie Watson) and Spencer Tracy (Richard Sumner). First of all, you can’t go wrong with a movie starring this iconic couple. Bunnie is in charge of the reference library at the fictional Federal Broadcasting Network. Richard is a methods engineer and inventor of EMERAC (Electomagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator – in short, a computer). He is hired by the network to install the computer in the research department, which causes quite a shakeup. Bunnie matches wits with Richard and EMERAC in this very funny, romantic comedy. Although filmed in a studio, the Federal Broadcasting Network is supposed to be located at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Number 2: Foul Play (1978) starring Goldie Hawn (Gloria Mundy) and Chevy Chase (Tony Carlson). This is a romantic comedy thriller, and an homage to Alfred Hitchcock movies. Gloria is a librarian who gets caught up in the middle of a plot to assassinate the Pope. Tony is a police detective assigned to the case. Only a few scenes are set in the library, which were actually filmed at the Pasadena Central Library in Pasadena, California. The rest of the movie scenes are set in several locations throughout the San Francisco area. (So you there will be the obligatory car chase up and down those famous hills.) If nothing else, Dudley Moore (Stanley Tibbits) will have you laughing out loud.
Number 3: Funny Face (1957) starring Audrey Hepburn (Jo Stockton) and Fred Astaire (Dick Avery). Funny Face is known more for its musical numbers, fashion sense, and scenes set in Paris than it is for books. However, the main characters meet when Dick, a fashion photographer, ends up at a shoot in a Greenwich Village bookshop where Jo works. Jo is outraged by the intrusion of the destructive magazine crew, but Dick is charmed by Jo. He eventually convinces her to take a modeling gig in Paris, where she would be able to indulge her philosophical pursuits. “Bonjour, Paris!” Alas, the bookshop was filmed on a soundstage, but many of the outdoor scenes in Paris are real.
Number 4: National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2009) starring Nicolas Cage (Benjamin “Ben” Franklin Gates) and Diane Kruger (Dr. Abigail Chase). This action/adventure film is right up my history loving alley. I could have included this in my previous top 5 list because of (1) the story line linking Ben’s ancestor, Thomas, to the diary of John Wilkes Booth; and (2) Ben’s quest for the “President’s Secret Book”. So why did I include this film in this list? Because of the scenes that take place at the Library of Congress. This library lover would love to do some research there in real life! In addition, the first National Treasure movie also had a scene filmed in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.
Number 5: Beauty and the Beast (1991 animation and 2017 film). I’m sure I don’t have to explain the plot of these movies to you. But can I just mention – the Beast’s library? Forget about being a princess, just let me in the library!
Honorable mention: Bell, Book and Candle (1958) starring James Stewart (Shephard “Shep” Henderson) and Kim Novak (Gillian Holroyd). Gillian, an owner of an African art store, casts a love spell on her upstairs neighbor, Shep. Although this fantasy, comedy, romance film does not have scenes at a library or at a bookstore, it does have scenes in Shep’s office. So why did I include this mention? Shep is a book publisher and has my dream office with a fantastic wall of books, complete with library ladder. Maybe he had the same interior designer as the Beast!