Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Case Study No. 0253: Nancy Wagner and Elizabeth Hamilton (student library workers)

Electric Wizard - Dunwich
Track #2 off 2007's "WitchcultToday" Album. Video clip from the 1970 film, The Dunwich Horror which was based off of H. P. Lovecraft's short story by the same name.
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Haller, Daniel (Director). The Dunwich Horror. United States: American International Pictures, 1970.

Starring: Toby Russ (Librarian??); Sandra Dee (Nancy Wagner); Dean Stockwell (Wilbur Whateley); Ed Begley, Sr. (Dr. Henry Armitage)

Based on the Short Story: Lovecraft, H.P. "The Dunwich Horror." Weird Tales, 1929 http:// thelibrary/lovecraft/ thedunwichhorror.htm

Although actor Toby Russ is credited as playing the librarian at the Widener Library, multiple screenings of this film failed to identify him, and I wonder if he didn't end up on the cutting room floor. In Lovecraft's story, Dr. Armitage is a librarian, although this is not evident in the film (his Necronomicon being on display in the library notwithstanding ... many if not most library exhibits are owned by outsiders). The two young ladies (the Sandra Dee character and her friend Elizabeth, invented for this film) who handle the book and discuss the library's imminent closing may or may not be associated with the library itself. One reviewer refers to Miss Wagner as "the beautiful librarian." Acknowledging Armitage as a librarian, he certainly obstructs the flow of knowledge, but for a good reason, if one believes peace and sanity of the world is a good reason. In any case, two brief library scenes (one features a fight, if you're keeping track of libraries as settings for violence) and no apparent librarian make this film of little interest to the profession, but if you're old enough to remember the 1970s or are a Dean Stockwell fan, it's a hoot to watch. If you're a Lovecraft fan, forget it.



"The Dunwich Horror" (1970) focuses on Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) and his attempt to bring back "the old ones, princes of darkness" so that they can "repossess the Earth." To do this, he needs a book (Necronomicon) and a young virgin. He visits a nearby university for the book and also finds librarian Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee), the perfect young woman for his work. As the film opens, students Nancy and Elizabeth Hamilton (Donna Baccala) are returning the Necronomicon to the university library where they work. They meet Wilbur, who asks to use the book. Elizabeth rejects his request, "That's impossible." She is adamant about refusing Wilbur access to the book and buttresses her decision by declaring, "The library is closing."

Nancy, however, permits him to take the book into a nearby reading room. As the two students discuss the pros and cons of permitting Wilbur to use the book, Nancy remarks, "Did you notice his eyes? He's really got great eyes." Elizabeth, worrying about Nancy's decision to give the priceless book "to the first kook who comes along," is rebuffed by Nancy, "I trust him."

Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) soon returns and takes the book from Wilbur, and after a brief discussion with Wilbur, he tells the two students, "It's easy to see why you two girls were effectively charmed." The four leave the library for an enjoyable dinner, and Nancy drives Wilbur back to his home in Dunwich, where she falls under his spell. Nancy is rescued during the closing minutes of the film.

Both students are young and attractive - Nancy, a blonde (bouffant; ponytail at nape), wears a black turtleneck sweater and pleated camel skirt; Elizabeth, a brunette (front and sides pulled up into ponytail at crown; back hangs in page), has on a white blouse with an open convertible collar and a dark pleated skirt. The only library-related task they undertake is putting the Necronomicon back into its glass-enclosed case, which they immediately reopen to give to Wilbur. This brief scene permits filmgoers to easily identify the two students as librarians.

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