Saturday, June 10, 2017

84 Charing Cross Road: Saturday Matinee

Updated 6/10/2017
Until I stood on Charing Cross Road in London for myself this past month, with the marquee for the Harry Potter play staring me smack in the face while just up the road at Foyle's bookshop a sandwich board sign touted the words of author J.K. Rowling, I didn't quite understand how fully the worlds of literature and drama intersect in this Covent Garden area of London. Looking at the labels on a map didn't carry the same weight as actually being there, headed out to the theater (we went to see the long running Mousetrap) as bookstores, theaters, touristy souvenir shops pubs and restaurants all competed for our attention. 

You've gathered that 84 Charing Cross Road (marked with a plaque) is today's Saturday Matinee, and you can read about the film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins below, but first indulge me while I share a few photos from our recent trip.

Now ... here's my original post from 2016.

Before 84 Charing Cross Road was a movie—today's Saturday Matinee starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins—it was a play, and before that, an epistolary memoir by Helen Hanff. Based on Hanff''s real life twenty year correspondence with Frank Doel, the manager of Marks & Company Antiquarian booksellers, the story begins with the New York based Hanff's attempt to find some long out of print books. Doel responds to her enthusiastic chatty letters—how American—with polite professionalism—how British! Over the years the relationship blooms into a deep friendship. It's one that, poignantly, stays on the page. 

Netting just over a million dollars at the box office, the movie was obviously far from being a financial success when it was released back in 1987. I can't imagine it getting anywhere near a green light today. Still. Anne Bancroft won the Best Actress BAFTA for her performance and Judi Dench, as Doel's wife, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. 

As for Doel, played by Anthony Hopkins, I can hear his iconic voice in my head right now. Sure he's talking about chianti with Clarise but I'm betting that waxing poetic about books with Bancroft will be just as hypnotic. Doc Martin fans will recognize a younger Ian McNiece. 

The screenplay is by Hugh Whitmore who has had a long and successful career writing British period dramas. 

If you want to stream it today you'll have to shell out a few bucks on Amazon, YouTubes, iTunes, Vudu or GooglePlay. If you're a Netflix member, you can get the DVD in the mailbox. 

Let's watch the trailer, see if you think it's worth the $2.99.

What do you think? 
Is 84 Charing Cross Road your cup of tea?


  1. Well, as someone who was nearly seduced by the words of a man, I can definitely imagine the power that these letters have. Of course, I was taken in my emails rather than written letters, but I can feel how strong the tie must be.

    1. That's an intriguing comment, Paulita! I need to know more about that!


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