on November 23, 2000
I thanked the man at Central Park who introduced "84 Charing Cross Road" to Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks for help making it into a film. David Hugh Jones did a splendid directing. Marvellous adaptation of Helene Hanff's book which I cherish. Without this film I may never find such a terrific book. Great contribution to books-lovers and movie-goers.
I love this film.It's one of my all time favourite! Very literary unique with exquisite performances from Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.
This bitter sweet true story is about lifelong letters correspondence between a struggling writer Helene Hanff(Bancroft) and a book dealer Frank Doel(Hopkins). It began when Helene, a New Yorker responded to an advertisement in the "Saturday Review of Literature". She wanted to mail order out of prints or cheaper edition old books from a London book shop which Frank worked as a book dealer. The book shop was located in 84 Charing Cross Road. At first everything were strictly business like. Helene was always interested and amazed by English Literature and cultures and Frank vice-versa,intrigue by this American. Eventually,they developed a special friendship,an unspoken love and care for each other without even seeing each other. They were like soul mates and that was extraordinary.
The cultural and social differences between London and New York during that period were vividly illustrated. It's so touching to see Helene finally going to London.Her love for english literature was sincere and remarkable. This made the movie so unforgettable and great. Beacause all these actually did happened and those people really existed.
Both Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins were astonishing in their roles. Also with great supporting casts like Judi Dench and Maurice Denham.
This movie taught me about books,the magic of literature,friendship and many more.It also showed there are many different kind of perpetual love and care. I'll always re-watch it because I find it's a classic which touch my heart and soul.
on February 7, 2005
Based on the charming true-life book by Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road is an absolute heart-tugging gem of a movie, and I cannot believe I never came across this 1987 sleeper before this time. Anne Bancroft is magnificent as brash New Yorker Helene Hanff, a book lover extraordinaire who comes across a British emporium of rare books, and begins an extraordinary correspondence (via paper, this was BEFORE e-mail and how charming it is!) with Frank Doel, played fabulously by a young Anthony Hopkins.
Somehow, in their 20 years of correspondence about books, their growing and deep friendship never had its denoument: Neither one was ever able to visit the other. And yet they were extraordinarily close in their mutual love of books, as Hanff's prolific reading habits and exacting demands for unabridged material complimented Doel's understated British desire to help her all he could.
I found myself in tears more than once; there are so many subtleties to this movie, especially in the bravira performance by Bancroft. This may be her finest role, unheralded though it was.
Something wonderful for any book lover. Order it and enjoy!
on October 27, 2002
In these days of e-books, and bland books constructed from franchised ideas and formulas, we are presented "84 Charing Cross Road," a story about a relationship begun because of a mutual love of old great books.
Hopkins and Bancroft share a film highlighting both of their genuine personas.
Like Hopkins in "Shadowlands" and "The Remains of the Day," we see him in full glory, as a quiet man of grace and sophistication.
He is the chief buyer at an English bookstore, and Bancroft's character mails him a request for a book. Correspondence and a relationship begins. Contently and confidently married, Hopkins responds as an older brother might, and the two grow to cherish each other despite the distance.
As they care for each other, and slowly, their local friends and family become aware, we see how love transcends the sea. Neither character has an agenda, and this left me feeling a little less cynical about the world around me.
Like so many of today's e-mail- and chatroom-only friendships, they learn to appreciate each other, though knowing only the other as they choose to describe themselves.
This isn't a story about books or bookstores, despite the honest representation of their demeanor and personality. Any booklover knows the search for a book, and the texture of a bookseller's knowledge and connection with his books.
This is a movie about the depth, trust, and love of one unexpected relationship. Book lovers will enjoy the context, and good friends will smile knowingly.
There are many people who come into our lives as a result of books. That common love of books can spark many a friendship.
Imagine living in the middle of a society so unaware of the books you crave. Imagine no Amazon. No free shipping! No forums dedicated to your favorite authors.
Finding a friend who shares your love of the newest self-published novel is rare enough. Imagine finding a soul mate who understands your love for books written a century ago. Imagine finding someone who shared your love of inexpensive rare editions and could find them for you for under $5.
Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) shows all the signs of being a hopeless bibliophile. She is an eccentric script reader who makes just enough money to survive and yet dreams of owning copies of old books from an antiquarian bookstore. She is quite the character with a delicious sense of humor and always speaks her mind.
"I never can get interested in things that didn't happen to people who never lived." -Helene
When she is told that readers in New York are not reading British books by British writers, she can't believe that English literature is not read in New York! She finds an English bookseller's address and writes a letter asking for a few books to be sent to her in New York.
She first contacts Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) on October 5th, 1949. Through the years Frank is able to find books she is dying to read and Helene shows her appreciation by sending small packages to his office for all the employees and for his family. She ships food to them they never see or only can obtain through the black market.
Some of Helene's letters are so hilarious. I think I laughed almost once every time she was writing. It is such a brash contrast with Frank's very British formality.
Helene seems quite infatuated with all things British and even attempts a Yorkshire Pudding for her friends in New York. They are all most impressed.
What struck me most boldly about this rather serene movie was the beautiful way in which Frank and Helene touched one another's lives through simple sentiments and occasional packages. A gift, a word, a sentence of encouragement. The letters are read while scenes play out in each country.
Frank's wife is played by Judi Dench who looks most radiant. She also writes occasional letters to Helene.
While Helene and Frank write beautiful letters back and forth, Helene's true love really seems to be books. Frank is just one of the only souls alive who seems to understand her constant obsession with reading.
A beautiful expression of pure friendship.
~The Rebecca Review
on April 16, 2001
Helene Hanff's 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD is one of the few films I have watched many, many times and have never tired of its wonderful story, great acting and inspiring picture of a life-long friendship.
Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins are a perfect match for this timeless story that spans the literal breadth of the Atlantic Ocean and some 20 years in time. The supporting cast including the always-engaging Judy Dench, round out a superbly-written screenplay.
This film will make you laugh, and cry and sometimes both at the same time. It resonates so much with not only the joy of finding a great book, but also with the connections books bring to our daily lives, and those friendships that arise and/or continue over the lively discussions of a wonderful book you have shared with someone.
A wonderful movie to share with a fellow book lover, or just a good friend!
on March 24, 2004
I've given this charming movie 2 stars because of the treatment it got on DVD. The movie itself deserves 5 stars.
Columbia Tri-Star did a real disservice by releasing this movie in pan and scan mode and not in the format as it was shown in theaters. If you remember at the very beginning of the DVD the words "This movie has been reformatted to fit your television". So in reality, you viewing a heavily cropped out movie.
I won't give a descriptive review of the movie as others have done so quite eloquently here.
A quiet and magical movie that deserved far better treatment on DVD. Shame on Columbia Tri-Star.
on August 15, 2002
This is a wonderful film. No violence. No swear words. No blood and gore. Instead you have a fantastic film about post-war Britain and America and the relationship between Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) in England and Helen Hanif in America(Anne Bancroft. He works in a bookshop in Charing Cross Road in London, she is a brash New Yorker with a passion for old books. Their relationship is purely platonic, he is happily married, but their friendship blossoms and for many years Helen and Frank correspond with each other as she increases her old book collection and the Post War Countries they reside in slowly head for modern times.
The story follows the lives of Frank, the staff at the bookshop, Helen in New York and a variety of amusing incidents that will have you laughing and crying in the same breath. Anthony Hopkins is delightful as the gently pompous Frank and Anne Bancroft breathes life into her character Helen, funny, very Jewish and very tactless.
With Post-War austerity severe in Britain Helen sends American food packages to her new friends who recieve them with delight. One funny moment is when Helen realises that the owners of the bookshop Frank works in are Jewish and that she has just sent a huge ham to them! Frantically she writes to Frank, explaining though she is Jewish herself, she isn't orthodox and that she hopes his employers aren't too horrified with half a pig turning up on their doorstep! I had to chuckle at that.
This is a delightful film, and well worth buying as you can watch it again and again. The book it is based on is very good too, well worth reading as it has all the letters that went between Frank and Helen during their many years of correspondence.
This is one of the few movies made in the last 20 years or so that really is thoroughly charming and intelligent that you can't help but see it many, many times. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft are such great characters in this movie that you can actually feel yourself in the company of them and totally forget you are watching a movie. It is a movie that spans over 20 years and still the relationship that these two enjoy is just as exciting and fresh as when they first were "introduced" to each other. A fantastic friendship by mail develops and a deep friendship that few in today's world enjoy. Their love of books is quite believeable in this movie, because I too have a passion for great literature. This is a movie that makes me appreciate the books that I enjoy reading, whether they are old or new, tattered or in impeccable shape. Both Hopkins and Bancroft give stellar performances and the supporting cast is outstanding as well. I highly recommend this for those who love to sit and become involved in a movie that has charm, wit, and a captivating plot.
If you love books - especially old, rare, classics that await discovery in estate sales, or in dusty second-hand shops with a house cat asleep next to the register - then you'll love 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD. Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins star in this low-key 1987 film, and you'll find no trace of Mrs. Robinson or Hannibal Lecter here. Set initially in the year of my birth, 1949, Bancroft plays Helene, a slightly irascible New York bibliophile with a passion for rare volumes. She answers an ad, placed by a London bookshop managed by the Hopkins character, Frank Doel, claiming to offer such books at reasonable prices. Thus begins a 20-year relationship, totally via the postal service, between Helene and Frank that eventually blossoms into a deep and abiding affection. Helene even melts to the point of sending the shop's staff Christmas packages of gourmet food items, delicacies in short supply in the austerity of post-war England.
Hopkins plays the role that he does exceptionally well, that of the perfect, English, gentleman's gentleman, who remains even-tempered no matter what the provocation, which, in this case, is Helene's sometimes exacting standards.
The ending is, at first sight, disappointingly bittersweet. But, on further consideration, the viewer may well realize that it is one too often consistent with an occasional love of one's life, and therefore perfectly appropriate.
on April 16, 2003
I wrote a review not long ago about how much I loved the book 84 Charing Cross Road, now I can confess I saw the movie first.
I stumbled across the movie one night and was instantly taken away by the superb, and under stated acting of Anne Bancroft as Helene Hanff and Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel. Although neither actor has even one second of screen time where they are in the same room, you can feel the friendship that devoloped between these two people. The just a touch of a smile that creeps across Hopkins face is a joy to watch as he would get a new letter from Ms. Bancroft's Helene Hanff.
And never (at least in my memory) has Anne Bancroft gotten so totally lost in a role. You no longer see here as Anne Bancroft, actrees, but as Helene Hanff. A frazzled, passionate writer dreaming of living a life filled with books and travelling to London to meet Frank Doel. You can read the disappointment on her face everytime a new obstacle is thrown at her again and again.
The only down note to this entire story is the very end. But as it is a true story, how can you really fault it. However you do find yourself wishing for the happy Hollywood ending for once in your life.
Be you a fan of either actor, a fan of the book, a fan of books in general, you owe it to yourself to watch this movie.
One little side note that just adds to your enjoyment of this film. Anne Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks purchased the film rights to the book one year as a birthday gift after she had told him about how wonderful the book was!