Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Case Study No. 1564: Jo (library assistant) and Mrs. Biddle

Tags: Librarians
Added: 4 years ago
From: deanxavier
Views: 12

[scene opens with Carl Brashear entering the public library, where he approaches the older female African-American librarian at the front desk and hands her a bouquet of flowers (which she gives no reaction to)]
MRS. BIDDLE: What's the hitch?
[Carl responds by handing her a stack of books with his other hand]
MRS. BIDDLE: You're the one who called ...
CARL: Yes, ma'am.
MRS. BIDDLE: I told you, we're a public library, not a tutoring service. Now, if you don't mind, there is a Mister Biddle at home. In fact, he's probably brought flowers.
[Carl then turns as he hears library worker Jo pushing a book cart through the stacks, and (quickly changing strategies) brings the flowers over to her]
[cut to a closeup of the librarian, who calls out to Jo]
MRS. BIDDLE: Have a wonderful weekend ... And lock up, would you?
JO: Uh-huh.
[the librarian points at Carl]
MRS. BIDDLE: And be sure to kick him out.
[she exits the library, as Carl smiles and turns to Jo]
CARL: Hello.
JO: [pause] We're closed.
CARL: Not for three minutes ... You studying on nursin'?
JO: A person doesn't "study on" anything, Bosun's Mate.
CARL: You know your rates and ranks. Did you get that from one of these books?
[she ignores the question and pushes her cart past him]
CARL: Look, I'm not here to flirt with you. I'm in diving school, across the river. I'm not just good at it. I was born for it. But the joke is, I'm gonna wash out if I don't pass my next exam.
JO: What was the last grade you completed in school?
CARL: Seventh.
JO: I can't help you ...
CARL: Why not?
JO: Because it took me four years of working at places like this to get through med school. Now I have six weeks to study for my exam ... I pass, I become an intern, and maybe someday become a doctor. You're too far behind, and I don't have the time.
CARL: Okay. Go on. Walk around reading to yourself. Don't give me another thought. Just go on.
[she gives him an angry look]
JO: Don't you get it? Whether I help you or not doesn't matter ... You're gonna fail anyway!
CARL: I won't ... I can't.
JO: Why do you want this so badly?
CARL: Because they said I couldn't have it.
JO: [pause] I may know a professor at City.




Tillman, Jr., George (Director). Men of Honor. United States: Fox 2000 Pictures, 2000.

Starring: Demene Hall (Mrs. Biddle, Librarian); Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Carl Brashear); Aunjanue Ellis (Jo, med student/doctor & library worker)

This film is worth viewing even without the few library scenes. An ambitious rural black man (Gooding) needs tutoring to help him pass the Navy's dive school tests, and turns to the resources of the public library in Harlem where he meets the woman who will later become his wife. It's refreshing to see a black librarian. Actress Hall is beautiful and her bun is actually stylish (okay, the glasses are a bit much, but remember the times). Her character doesn't fuss when the two young people stay after hours. A positive (albeit very brief) librarian portrayal, circa 1950.

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