Friday, April 5, 2013

Case Study No. 0897: Lucy Sherwood and Unnamed Female Librarian

Tags: Librarians
Added: 3 years ago
From: deanxavier
Views: 12,390

[scene opens with Lucy Sherwood sitting at the front desk of the American Library of London, stamping books, when the phone rings and an older female librarian gets up to answer it]
LARRY: [over the phone] Is that the American Library?
LARRY: [over the phone] Can I speak to Miss Sherwood, please?
OLDER FEMALE LIBRARIAN: Oh, just a moment ... Lucy, it's for you, and you really must get him to ring up out of work!
[she gets up and runs to the phone]
LUCY: I'm sorry, I'll tell him ... Hello? Hello, Joe?
[cut to a phone booth where one of Joe's friends is on the other line]
LARRY: Lucy, this is Larry.
LUCY: [pauses] Hello Larry.
LARRY: You know why I'm phoning, don't you?
LUCY: [stone-faced] Sure. Sure ... Oh no, he's gone. I guess I knew it would come. Thank you, Larry. You alright? Yes, he was a good flyer. Thank you for ringing, Larry.
[she hangs up, as an older male officer approaches her and tries to hand her a book]
PATRON: Would you check this book out please, Miss?
[still in a state of shock, Lucy walks right past without acknowledging him and exits the library]




Neame, Ronald (Director). The Man Who Never Was. United Kingdom: 20th Century Fox, 1956.

Starring: Gloria Grahame (Lucy Sherwood, Librarian); Clifton Webb (Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu)
Based on the Book: Montagu, Ewen. The Man Who Never Was. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1953.

She refers to herself as "Lucy the Languishing Librarian," a young, lovely Londoner with a weakness for dating flyers during the second World War. She knows she is heading for heartbreak but can't help herself. She inadvertently takes on a small role in a military plot to convince Germany that Britain's next target is Greece, not the strategically critical Sicily where the enemy lies in wait. They do so by inventing "William Martin," a British officer serving as a courier of secret documents, in reality the corpse of a Scotsman who died of bronchitis. "Martin" is to wash up on the shores of Spain and convince the enemy to relocate their forces away from Britain's target. To make the dead man appear genuine, the military stuffs his pockets with personal objects, including a love letter and photograph from his fictional girlfriend. Lucy dictates the content of this love letter to her roommate (who works for the military and whose own writing skills are inadequate), but Lucy is writing from her heart to a real flyer, Joe. The plan works beautifully, and when a German spy (with the worst Irish accent ever) comes to London to check up on the validity of "Willie Martin," he is convinced that Lucy is the real thing because, having just learned that Joe's plane was shot down, she is in genuine mourning. Library themes are thin here. The only stereotypical element is the one brief library scene where Lucy (wearing thick glasses) is busy rubber-stamping a stack of books. She serves, however, as a portrayal that does not visually support the profession's public image (except the glasses!) with her long hair and fashionable clothing. Based on a true story, The Man Who Never Was might have taken liberties with this character (as names and details have been changed), so Lucy may or may not have been an actual librarian who helped save thousands of lives during World War II.



"The Man Who Never Was" (1956), filmed in DeLuxe Color and set in England during World War II, is based on Ewen Montagu's book of the same title. The film recounts the development of Montagu's successful plan to give the Third Reich false information about a forthcoming invasion of the continent. the plan requires creating a fictitious military persona (Major William Martin) for a cadaver that is intentionally dropped into the sea off the coast of Spain. Montagu anticipates that the Germans will be able to obtain and examine the contents of an attache case attached to the writs of Major Martin and, hopefully, will believe the contents and divert troops away from the actual invasion site. Clifton Webb portrays Montagu in this suspenseful film, and Gloria Grahame portrays Lucy Sherwood, a librarian who is very instrumental in convincing a German agent that Major Martin existed, thereby verifying the accuracy of the top-secret documents in the attache case.

Lucy and Pam (Josephine Griffin), Montagu's office assistant, share an apartment, where Pam often meets Lucy's boyfriends; Lucy's current beau is Joe, a Roayl Air Force flier. Pam, believing that Lucy is too serious about Joe, warns her not to fall in love. Lucy responds, "Who? Me? Lucy, the languishing librarian, not a chance. If ever I fall in love, it will be with a guy who goes out at 9 to a nice safe office and comes back at 6. Not one of these flyers - here today and gone tomorrow."

But the denial cannot hide the fact that she is in love with Joe. In this scene, Lucy, a redhead (shoulder length soft curls), wears a long sleeve sweater, large multicolor neck scarf, and black capri pants. Both Lucy and Pam are very attractive young women. Pam's makeup is very soft, enhancing her beauty; Lucy's makeup appears harsh throughout the film, as if deliberately overdone, detracting from her beauty. Variety noted that "there is something very much amiss with her makeup in this picture."

On the day that Joe gives Lucy an engagement ring, Pam is struggling to compose a love letter to put in Major Martin's personal belongings. Lucy, disappointed that Joe is going on another mission, dictates a very emotional, poignant letter to Pam; the letter reveals Lucy's emotions about her relationship with Joe, and is exactly the type of letter that will authenticate Martin's persona and that of his nonexistent girlfriend. Pam signs the letter "Lucy," and after an office discussion about including a photograph of a young woman, Montagu asks Pam to obtain a photograph of Lucy. Major Martin is deposited off the Spanish coastline, and the Germans (as expected) obtain copies of the contents of the attache case and Martin's personal belongings. A Nazi agent is dispatched to London to verify the facts relating to Martin's personal activities and life, including his girlfriend Lucy.

While working in the American Library, Lucy receives a telephone call from one of Joe's friends, informing her that Joe has been killed. She is so overwhelmed with grief that after she hangs up the telephone, she walks out of the library. That same afternoon, the Nazi agent visits Pam and Lucy's apartment; when no one answers the door, he waits in the stairwell until Pam arrives. Pam knows that he is a German agent as soon as he asks about Martin and Lucy. As he prepares to leave the apartment, Lucy arrives, totally distraught about Joe's death. When the agent asks her about Martin, she begins a sobbing discourse aobut losing a loved one. Impressed by the sincerity of her grief, the agent believes mistakenly that she is distraught about Martin. When he returns to his apartment, he immediately transmits a message suggesting that Martin may be genuine if he transmits a second message in an hour, which he does, causing the German army to deploy forces away from the invasion site.

Lucy's one scene in the library utilizes several of the visual characteristics and occupational tasks of reel librarians. She sits behind a desk, stamps books, and wears large oversized eyeglasses, which she uses only in this scene, removing them before responding to her telephone call. She dresses very similarly in all of her scenes, basically white tops and black pants or skirts. Lucy closely approximates the image of reel librarians.

Lucy's occupation is not important to the storyline, but Pam, as an assistant to Montagu, requires a roommate of similar or comparable occupational status. Pam is rational, very sedate, and extremely sensible about waiting out the war to find a boyfriend. Lucy, on the other hand, is emotional and enjoys male companionship, remarking "I don't know how to keep away from these boys, Pam." Lucy is a librarian looking for love, and in wartime London, she appears to have successfully attracted several young men.

A second library employee (uncredited) who answers the telephone before handing it to Lucy is evidently her supervisor, as she remarks to Lucy in a tone nearing anger, "It's for you, and you really must get them to ring up out of work, you know." A graying brunette (finger wave; loose curls at side and back), the librarian is "only 38" and dresses modestly - a charcoal grey suit and red blouse.

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