Jimmy Stewart in The FBI Story: Library Proposal Scene
This is a lovely little scene from the 1959 movie The FBI Story in which Agent Chip Hardesty (Jimmy Stewart) proposes to girlfriend Lucy (Vera Miles) in the library.
Tags: jimmy james stewart vera miles fbi story 1959 movie old cute love library proposal marriage romance
Added: 3 years ago
[scene opens with Chip entering the library and walking up to the front desk, where he addresses the young female librarian (brown hair in a bun, white cardigan sweater) sitting next to Lucy (blonde hair in a bun, pink dress)]
[he casually hands Lucy a stack of books, as an older female librarian (hair in a bun, glasses, blue dress) walks by ... Lucy dutifully takes the books and stamps them (without looking Chip in the eye), then Chip hands her a piece of paper]
CHIP: I wonder, do you happen to have that book?
LUCY: Well, if we do, it'll be in the mystery section.
CHIP: Uh huh.
LUCY: I'll show you.
CHIP: Thank you.
[as the other librarian continues stacking books on the desk, Lucy and Chip head towards the stacks, where (once they're sure no one is around) they suddenly begin kissing]
LUCY: Chip, darling, not everyday! Somebody's gonna notice ...
[he playfull kisses her again]
LUCY: Nobody can read books quite that fast!
CHIP: Now, you've got nothing to worry about, Lucy. I always pick books with large print, y'see?
[he gestures towards the shelves in the "mystery section" with his hand, causing Lucy to step back and knock her head on the opposite shelf]
CHIP: Oh, I'm sorry! Y'know, I wish they'd sorta spread things out here a little ... Kinda cramped in here.
[she laughs, and he hugs her]
CHIP: All these books, too. Y'know, it's not very romantic kissing somebody right in the middle of the murder section.
LUCY: You got a better suggestion?
CHIP: Well, as a matter of fact, I have. It's why I came over ... Uh, Lucy, I think we oughta get married.
[she suddenly pulls away with a concerned look on her face]
LUCY: Married? Right away?
CHIP: Well, no. Tomorrow would be soon enough, I think.
LUCY: Chip, you're crazy. You can't just go and get married like you're ordering a ham sandwich!
CHIP: You can if you're hungry ...
[she looks away]
CHIP: We love each other, don't we?
LUCY: Why tomorrow?
CHIP: Well, y'see, word has just come in that I have to go to Washington the end of the month. And I'm not sure when I'll be back, I'm not sure I'll ever be back at all, y'know? I may be transferred, so we'll have to get married right away, and then we can work in a honeymoon, you see?
[she looks away again]
LUCY: Well, it's impossible ...
CHIP: What, you don't think your folks would approve?
[she shakes her head]
LUCY: No, that's not it ... I won't.
LUCY: Now, we've talked about this before, Chip.
CHIP: What, you mean my job, huh?
LUCY: I love you very much, Chip. But I wouldn't marry you tomorrow or any other day, as long as you work for that bureau!
CHIP: Now Lucy, you're not being fair about this ...
LUCY: I don't think you're being very fair to yourself! You spent five years getting a degree, working in the day and going to school at night! And then you get stuck in some dinky little rut! I'm not against government work, Chip, but ... well, do something important.
CHIP: Well honey, I'm awfully sorry, they just wouldn't let me start as a senator!
LUCY: Now that's not what I mean and you know it!
CHIP: Well, I--
LUCY: I'm not looking for a lot of money, or a big mansion! I just hate to see you sliding along, year after year, with nothing to show for it except a payroll number and maybe a pat on the back from some political appointee!
[she starts to walk away]
LUCY: You're too good for that, Chip ...
CHIP: Well, I guess that's pretty clear, isn't it?
LUCY: I hope so.
CHIP: Well, Lucy, let me ask you something. If I were to leave the bureau, would you marry me then?
LUCY: Let me ask you something ... How much would you really mind giving it up? Now be honest, Chip, it's not that good a job. You've said so yourself!
CHIP: Well, I know. That's true, but ... I know there isn't much reason for me to stay, but ... Anyway, I think I'd give up anything to marry you, Lucy. I really would.
LUCY: Well then, stop stalling and do it ...
CHIP: Well now, I still have to go to Washington to resign.
[she looks over his shoulder]
LUCY: And I have to go to work!
[they exchange one quick kiss before heading back to the main reading room, as an elderly woman passes them by and makes her way to the mystery section]
CHIP: [whispers] Wonder who she's meeting in here ...
[she blows him a kiss, as they go their separate ways]
Vera Miles is librarian Lucy Ballard, girlfriend of FBI agent John Michael "Chip" Hardesty (James Stewart), in The FBI Story (Technicolor), a laudatory history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The historical narrative begins in 1924 when the Knoxville agents are instructed to attend a meeting in Washington to meet the bureau's new director. After receiving this news, Chip visits the library, responding to a telephone call from Lucy.
An attractive blonde (angel wing bang; bun at nape), Lucy is working with another librarian (uncredited) at the main desk in the center of the public library when Chip enters. He returns two books, which Lucy immediately stamps. He asks for another book, and Lucy responds, "Well, if we do [have it], it'll be in the mystery section. I'll show you." The two are very coy to hide their relationship during this conversation; neither their behavior nor words indicate a couple in love.
Once they arrive in a secluded nook in the mystery section, they embrace and kiss. "Jim, darling," Lucy remarks, "not every day. Somebody's going to notice. Nobody can read books quite that fast."
During their conversation in the alcove, Chip remarks, "It's not very romantic kissing somebody right in the middle of the murder section." Lucy asks if he has a better suggestion, and his response is, "I think we ought to get married." The wordplay suddenly loses its frivolity, becoming very serious. Lucy's one demand is that he quit the bureau and enter private law practice. She wants him to "do something important;" rather than exist in a job where he occasionally receives "a pat on the back from some political appointee."
As they discuss the future of their relationship, he realizes that a life with Lucy means a life outside the bureau and, consequently, acquiesces to her demand. "I think I'd give up anything to marry you, Lucy. I really would," he says. The couple embrace and kiss again; Lucy then rushes back to her work place and Chip wanders about the book stacks. This is the film's only library scene.
Lucy's involvement with the library ends at the altar. Although she occasionally styles her hair in a bun, Lucy becomes the dedicated wife of Chip and is the loving and caring mother of their three children, traveling extensively and living uncomplainingly in dirt towns, urban areas, and farm country. Except for one brief episode, Lucy resembles the picture-perfect wife and mother that evolved on television programs during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the only library scene, Lucy's coworker is stationed at the main desk; she is an "only 38" brunette (bun at nape), wears a sequined dress that has a V-neckline infilled with white fabric to match the large lace collar, and eyeglasses. Director Mervyn LeRoy and cinematographer Joseph Biroc are almost successful in blocking this coworker from the view of filmgoers. When the camera is in front of the desk, Chip is positioned in front of the coworker, and when the camera is on the patron's right side of the desk, Lucy is in front of the coworker; both camera angles block the coworker from view. She is visible briefly when Chip enters the library and when Lucy takes him to the mystery section.