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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Movie Based on a True Story
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...
Published on Aug. 15 2002 by Kali

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Great Love Story
Thank you Columbia for finally releasing "84 Charing Cross Road." It would have been better if you had released it as the director envisioned it in wide screen. This is one of only a handful of films that I would buy no matter what screen proportions they are issued in (UNTIL A PROPER PROPORTIONED FILM IS RELEASED - as Helen Hanff would say). A marvelous love...
Published on May 22 2002


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Movie Based on a True Story, Aug. 15 2002
By 
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Woman of Mystery, Jan. 10 2003
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship with Depth and Love, Oct. 27 2002
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
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 owns the 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.

--Brockeim
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Great Love Story, May 22 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
Thank you Columbia for finally releasing "84 Charing Cross Road." It would have been better if you had released it as the director envisioned it in wide screen. This is one of only a handful of films that I would buy no matter what screen proportions they are issued in (UNTIL A PROPER PROPORTIONED FILM IS RELEASED - as Helen Hanff would say). A marvelous love story via the postal services across the Atlantic. Read other reviews for the story line. A nice crisp, clean DVD. Widescreen would have gotten to two more stars from me. Come on Columbia be true to the director's intent. At least give us the option between widescreen or full frame.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Back before email and Twitter, there were letters..., Nov. 6 2010
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
The year is 1951 and New York book-lover Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) writes to a small London bookshop in hopes of finding a rare book. Her request is filled quickly and politely by employee Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins). Delighted with the good service, Helene continues to order books from the shop at 84 Charing Cross Road for the next twenty years and she and Frank become devoted pen pals, sharing stories about their personal lives in addition to their love of rare books.

Bancroft plays Helene as loud, brassy, and generous while Hopkins' Frank is reserved, dignified, and kindly. They connected on many levels and became great friends even though they never met. Just when I thought their friendship was too contrived and precious, I remembered this was a true story and appreciated the depth of emotion that sprang from their letters. It's hard to imagine today how meaningful handwritten, heartfelt letters could be but they were, and this movie is testament to the power of the personal letter.

The movie spans twenty years and each era is wonderfully recreated in the clothes and cars and current events. This is a sweet movie that has no action, but a good script that pulls at your heartstrings all the same...two real people who found an enduring friendship through their correspondence. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Distant Cares for Book Lovers, March 3 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
Authors are fond of saying that the written word can take people anywhere, thinking no doubt of the intense relationship that a reader can have with an engaging author's writing. 84 Charing Cross Road explores a different dimension of how the written word travels: the role of correspondence, a virtually lost art today. The movie deftly displays how you can share your heart with someone you've never met.

The movie is based on 20 years of actual correspondence between New York author Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, the manager of a small London book store. Hanff's in-your-face New York energy and candor are what make the exchange meaningful to viewers. Hanff is a $40 a week script reader as the movie begins but has an affection for British nonfiction that leaves her frustrated with a lack of out-of-print titles in New York. Seeing a small advertisement in The Saturday Review, she writes to Marks & Co. in London (located at 84 Charing Cross Road) asking with trepidation for used books that cost less than $5 each and requesting specific titles.

The movie handles this distance relationship by alternating between receiving and sending correspondence and revealing little bits of the daily lives of those involved. At the core, however, is always a shared passion for books and good writing. The two styles of communicating could not be more different: Hanff doesn't edit her inner thoughts when writing, and Doel is proper and reticent.

The correspondence and relationship take an unexpected turn when Hanff learns how little fresh food English people are allowed during post-war rationing but how cheap it is to send some from Denmark. With a good heart, she sends off a first package . . . and then fears she may offend by having sent a ham to people who keep kosher.

A film like this obviously depends on some pretty special acting. Anne Bancroft does a wonderful job of being breezy, but intense, in her performance. I loved the scenes where a cigarette dangles precariously from her mouth as she pounds away with two fingers on an old manual typewriter. The role of the reserved Doel is more of a challenge, but Anthony Hopkins manages to capture the interest and delight that a reserved man might enjoy in lighthearted correspondence. Judi Dench plays Doel's wife in a role that shows versatility from the roles that you know her better for.

Unlike many films, this one has a heart. The actors are turned loose to play their roles in extreme ways (especially Bancroft) and the sentimentality works. Some of the most fun moments are when she turns to the camera and addresses the audience with a sparkle in her eyes.

As I watched the film, I was reminded of the idea that relationships are more important than issues. Even when Hanff was angry about something, she would still be solicitous about the people at 84 Charing Cross Road she cared for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars YOU'VE GOT MAIL, 1940s STYLE., June 13 2003
By 
Shashank Tripathi (Gadabout) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
She leads a lonely life in NY. He dwells in a silent marriage in a London suburb. She, a self-taught book connoisseur, is intereseted in out-of-print books advertised by his company (Marks & Company Antiquarian Booksellers, 84 Charing Cross Road) in a US newspaper. So she sends for the books.
And thus with a quaint common literary interest begins an epistolary addiction for 30 years that weaves a tapestry of mutual admiration and love. Sounds like a somewhat flimsy strand to base a movie on, but this is anything but a maudlin trans-atlantic love story.
When he writes of the devastated post-war England, she sends him care packages of ham. He sends precious hardbound editions of Boswell, Chesterton and Cardinal Newman. After many years, he dies. She finally goes to London and visits the now-empty bookstore. A sweet pang of unrequited love.
By turns witty and romantic, the letters themselves carry the movie! The times are beautifully captured with the immaculate cinematography (ps: 4 Oscars) and the implied contrast between NY and Britain is quite evident (as it was in the book).
For bibliophiles like myself, the very idea of seeing a sauve Hopkins behind his dusty register is reason enough to swoon about this movie. But the film's stunning achivement is in the absolutely platonic love that the two protagonists evoke. Without ever needing to meet they create a microcosm of their own that infuses something special into their lives.
A wonderful look at how simple love really has to be. A MUST for your collections.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A rare occasion where the movie is as good as the book, April 16 2003
By 
Sean Aune "Slacker" (Kirksville, MO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
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!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and heart-warming, Aug. 4 2002
By 
Charles S. Houser (Binghamton, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
It's nice to see a simple story told well and beautifully acted. There are no explosions or audience-baiting Hollywood touches in this quiet film--unless you account Bancroft's throwing a copy of Pepys diary across the room because it was "only excerpts, not the real thing." The only liberty I felt the filmmakers took with Helene Hanff's collection of personal correspondence with a British bookstore was to imply that she was carrying a torch for her primary correspondent, Frank Doel (played by Hopkins). While any relationship can be see as tinged with erotic tensions of some sort, I always felt from the book that Helene had a good grasp on reality (an opinionated and driven New Yorker, yes, but one that I doubt would ever have seriously endeavored to cross the Atlantic in hopes of busting up Frank's marriage.) In fact, Hanff never reveals much about her personal life in the book. (Perhaps she married but the fact was never documented in her correspondence.) The movie has her surrounded by numerous coupled friends, perhaps unintentionally supporting the stereotype that bookish women are asexual and unlovable. But Bancroft resists this stereotype and presents Helene as a vital and engaging personality. There is nothing pathetic about her.
One amusing moment in the film was seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Judy Dench as Mr. and Mrs. Doel watching the coronation of Elizabeth II on their black and white television...the very queen who would one day bestow titles on these two accomplished actors.
Although it would have been nice if the film had been put on DVD in widescreen format, it probably doesn't matter that much. There are no sweeping vistas here, nor are there many scenes of two characters sitting across a table and conversing with one another. (In fact, they have the entire Atlantic Ocean between them.) Pan and scan works just fine.
This film will not be everyone's cup of tea, but for anyone who enjoys watching a couple of veteran actors playing everyday people with great subtlety, this makes for a very pleasant 100 minutes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frankly speaking a classic, April 24 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: 84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) (DVD)
This film will definitely not disappoint fans of Hopkins, Bancroft, and boiled ham. Hopkins delivers a performance that hints at the greatness he would later achieve opposite Brad Pitt in "Legends of the Fall," while Bancroft has not been this alluring since "The Graduate."
But while both stars deliver Oscar-worthy performances, they are both, in one particularly moving scene, nearly upstaged by a third "character" in the film - a lovely ham sent by New Yorker Bancroft to Hopkins' mild-mannered London book-shoppe owner. After repeated viewings, it still looks delectable, though I am not sure of the variety. Disappointingly, the Bancroft character does not reply in kind, and ham makes no further appearance in the film
Another particularly affecting scene involves Hopkins dropping cocktail franks into a pot of boiling water, the franks playing an admirable supporting role to this all-star cast of Americans, Brits, and hams. As Hopkins thoughtfully drops the mini-franks into the water the viewer is dazzled with thoughts of mustards, relishes, perhaps beans? And who is his butcher? But who cares! Do yourself a favor: throw a ham in the oven, get in your favorite easy chair, and enjoy!
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84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français)
84 Charing Cross Road (Sous-titres français) by David Hugh Jones (DVD - 2002)
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