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Saturday, September 17, 2016

84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

In 1949, an American anglophile (Anne Bancroft) for rare British classics and literature begins a correspondence with the manager (Anthony Hopkins) of an English bookshop that specializes in rare and out of print books. For almost 20 years, without ever meeting, they correspond through letters. Based on the book by Helene Hanff which chronicles the 20 years of letters between her and Frank Doel first published in 1970. It was made into a British TV play in 1975 followed by a London stage production in 1981 and a Broadway production (with Ellen Burstyn) in 1982. The screenplay is by Hugh Whitemore who wrote the original 1975 TV play. This is a lovely film with the most unlikely of cinematic subjects: the love of books and the collector mentality. It's not very cinematic and much of the film is devoted to the exchange of letters voiced over by Bancroft, Hopkins and others but depending on one's affection for the subject matter, it's a little jewel of a movie. Sadly, it does seem a bit antiquated today what with the internet and kindle taking the place of books in our culture but it serves as a reminder of that joy of opening a parcel of something you've been waiting for, running your fingertips over the stiff pages and smelling the bound leather and placing it proudly on your bookshelf. Directed by David Hugh Jones. With Judi Dench, Mercedes Ruehl and Maurice Denham. 

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