84 Charing Cross Road is a true story in which Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins give distinguished performances as two strangers on opposite sides of the Atlantic whose lives are linked through a series of letters spanning more than twenty years.
She’s Helene Hanff – A salty, opinionated New York spinster with a passion for rare books. He’s Frank Doel – A dull, repressed married clerk at antiquarian booksellers Marks & Co (whose address is given in the title).
Their friendship begins in 1949 with an advertisement in the Saturday Review.
A correspondence begins between the American book lover and the British bookseller, and as the letters continue, Helene sends post-war tins of Christmas hams and nylons (pictured above), bringing joy and generosity into the lives of her overseas friends she’s never met.
Though they never do meet, Helene’s letters from Frank finally take her, years later (and, sadly, after his death) to the London she loves so much. and one last chance to see the shop before it’s torn down.
What distinguishes this film is its feeling for character: the Americans sending bundles of supplies to their deprived friends in Britain, and for the proud but impoverished British sending in return the only things they have left – The sense of history and civilization they’ve preserved through books.
The bookshop here is a Shepperton set, the better to recreate an authentic-seeming 50s atmosphere.
84 Charing Cross Road is an intelligent, sophisticated, and soothing film that enriches the soul and warms the heart. The film was produced by Mel Brooks – the husband of Anne Bancroft.
Jean De Baer
Sheila Doel (Age 29)
Sheila Doel (Age 12)
Mary Doel (Age 21)
Kate Napier Brown
Mary Doel (Age 4)