Saturday, June 25, 2016

84 Charing Cross Road: Saturday Matinee

Yesterday I was taking my weekly walk in London—over on my other site I've been trekking around the city, following the route of the London Underground from my arm chair here in Los Angeles—and found myself on Charing Cross Road. On my way to the National Gallery, I detoured to 84 Charing Cross Road instead. Read the piece to see what I found there.

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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