Modern Library in the Movies

From time to time, fanatic Modern Library collectors spot MLs in movies. This page keeps track of such cinematic sightings. Let us know if you spot an ML volume between popcorn crunches. Be sure to supply as much info as you can (in line with the examples you see here).

Blame Michael Watson for suggesting this project.

Book Descriptor Movie Scene Comment Contributor
Alice in Wonderland   Mrs. Miniver (1942) Family is in an air raid bunker outside their house. Mr. Miniver picks up a book and starts talking to his wife about how this was the first book he ever read. Terry Morris
Chekov's Plays 50's hardback in beat-up DJ The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) 2:03 minute mark of first scene Margo Tenenbaum is seated reading a copy. Greg Dumais
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Early 1940's edition in DJ The Enemy Below (1957) American sailor in his bunk on an American destroyer

A nice close-up of the book with the front panel of the jacket very legible

Gordon Neavill
Donne/Blake Complete Poetry/Prose Book looks larger than actual ML Giant, but ML mentioned by name 84 Charing Cross Road (1986) Anne Bancroft is holding a book she’s been given for Christmas, while the words she is writing to an English bookseller (Anthony Hopkins) are narrated.

"As big as the NY State Assembly Proceedings, and as attractively bound...and Donne and Blake in the same volume...what in the world do they have in common, except that that they're both English, and they both wrote?"

John Peterson
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury ( & others)   Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Various closeups of Burton in front of bookcase during first 45 minutes Faulkner, Marx, and other ML books visible in the bookcase behind Burton Peter LaVigna
Joyce's Ulysses Galdone jacket My Week with Marilyn (2011) The book is sitting on a night stand next to Marilyn Monroe's bed a little after halfway through the movie or so. The movie is about Marilyn Monroe and the making of "The Prince and the Showgirl" with Laurence Olivier. Eric Hilton
Proust 6-volume set Late 1940's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Books are being read by the character played by Cate Blanchett, to her unborn child " Upon announcing [spotting the ML connection] to my wife I got a look from her... well you can imagine. I also pointed out that they should put dust jacket covers on the books. That got a sofa pillow tossed at me." J B Krygier
Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac 1941-1963 DJ Duffy of San
Quentin (1954)
47 minutes into the film, Louis Hayward's character,
nicknamed 'Romeo', is seen with the book.
Romeo has been helping a fellow inmate write letters to his wife, a la Cyrano de Bergerac. The 'h' style dust jacket back can clearly be seen as well. Eric Hilton
Shaw's St. Joan Standard red dust jacket Klute (1972) Protagonist is auditioning for the theater reciting from Saint Joan. Jane Fonda is a NYC call girl who also auditions for the theater. She's told 'thanks but no thanks' by the director and as she leaves the stage she picks up the familiar red-and-white ML copy from the edge of the stage. Peter LaVigna
Villon's Poetry   The Petrified Forest (1936) Several scenes Bette Davis is shown in several scenes swooning over Villon's poetry. The dust jacket looked like it was in great shape (and so did Bette)! Toby G Levy
Walden   My Side of the Mountain (1969) Very end during the credits Book is opened to the title page as a backdrop for the credits. Jon Speed
War And Peace Galdone dust jacket (1960 example) The Reader Late in the movie appear some books in a German library "I wonder if the German language version of the film will have a German language copy instead." Alan Oestrich
Wuthering Heights Style 8 binding -- no DJ The Namesake (2007) Somewhere around the middle

A supporting actor, an Indian Immigrant, is reading this Modern Library edition. The brief scene effectively communicates his energetic attempt to absorb western culture. Not too far from the original ML selling philosophy.

John Peterson
[unknown] Style 8 Mr. 3000 (2004) End of the movie, the leading actor in a park-like setting with his girlfriend Obviously an ML (sans dust jacket) front and center in the frame. Goes by too fast for me to tell what the title might be. The point is that he's gotten serious about the pleasure of intellectual pursuit and the writers thought that an ML exemplified this. Michael Watson