Friday, October 1, 2010

Adventru*, Adventuo* (for Adventur*, Adventuro*)

I once put together a conference program about the image of librarians in popular culture. The panel comprised a couple of people who'd been involved with the making of the movie Party Girl, along with our own version of the Parker Posey character, who also happened to head up NYLA's Film and Video Round Table. It was fairly entertaining, perhaps even enlightening, and I believe the consensus was that if this was the popular image of a librarian, maybe we could finally put "The Stereotype" to bed.

In the feature film Rome Adventure, the lead is a young college librarian named Prudence who stands up to a phalanx of old biddies chiding her for loaning out (her own copy of!) a book called Lovers Must Learn by Irving Fineman. (An actual book, in fact, published in 1932, and the story the movie itself is based on.) Rather than be fired for sharing a book the library board had deemed unsuitable for co-eds, she breezily leaves her job with no love lost, except for the one she might be missing out on if she doesn't arrive in Rome as soon as possible! Prudence may be a tad naive (assuring her worried mother that her "new friends"two men she's met while vacationing in Italy—care only about protecting her "chastity," an assertion she qualifies somewhat wryly by noting: "from each other"). On the other hand, she's smart, gorgeous, winsome, and ... Suzanne Pleshette, for God's sake.

She gives a lovelorn student a romance novel and now she's ready for a novel romance of her own. Despite the surprisingly well-done book-banning set-up, this is basically a chick flick adventure film co-starring the hunky Troy Donahue (whom Pleshette was afterwards moved to marry, if only for a little while.) It's about as realistic as a steamy, 3-star Hollywood love story, with filmstrip-style footage of Italy and featuring a librarian in 1962, probably could be. And yet the love scenes, as well as that scene in the library, kind of rang true. This movie can naturally be found on the A list at Martin Raish's marvelous website, Librarians in the Movies. Adventru* turns up four times in OhioLINK, and Adventuo* three.

(Soundtrack album cover for Rome Adventure, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

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