Sitting at her typewriter in New York, Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) sends off a letter to a stuffy bookstore in England that specializes in rare used books. Helene, oddly a true Bancroft-type character, is witty and charming and just a little bit kooky. Knowing not a thing about the foreign exchange rate, she includes way too much money for the purchases she is interested in.
Sitting at his desk in England, Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) gets a little chuckle from the letter but you must realize this is in the mid-40's and the English are a bit prim and proper. He lingers over her wishes and since she has of course included too much money, adds a book he thinks may interest her, according to the tastes she has shown.
Thus begins a 20 year relationship between two people so alike and different at the same time. Evolving over time and hardships, Helene and Frank continue to exchange and share secrets in their lives. Helene always eccentric and Frank always staid. Soon other people in the bookshop start corresponding and therein lies the crux of the entire story.
Never rich or powerful, Helene realizes that she is still better off than those in England and at times sends packages and posts addressed to the entire staff - tins of meat, candies, cookies. Frank, stiff and proper, shares his wealth with all.
Often tempted to visit England, Helene never takes that step, but sends a friend in her stead. The friend reports back what a charming shop the bookshop is and how delightful the people are ... never a clue who Frank is.
In the end, Helene has not heard from Frank for some time and receives a letter from his wife telling her that Frank has passed away and Helene continues to regret she never made the journey to England to meet her friend and post-pal.
This is a beautiful love story that is never consummated, indeed, never fully realized. The interaction between Frank and Helene and then Helene and all the parties at the bookshop are very touching and heartwarming. This is a wonderful movie, well told and well played. Hopkins is a perfect choice as the staid and stiff Frank Dole and Bancroft the perfect choice as the zany and offbeat opposite.
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. … more
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. … more
While searching for rare English books, New York writer Helene Hanff's (Anne Bancroft) letter to a London bookstore, run by Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), begins a relationship between the two that spans two decades and two continents. Although their personalities and cultures are miles apart, their friendship blossoms into a deeper affection. Bancroft's performance earned her the BAFTA award, the British equivalent of the Oscar. Based on James Roose-Evans's play, which was based on Helene Hanff's memoir.