am 2. August 2004
The whole book is a collection of correspondence between Helene Hanff an avid book reader and Frank Doel an agent for British bookseller. Not being able to find the books she wanted to read for a reasonable price she turned to a book seller in Brittan. In the process of buying books they strike up a friendship.
Not having any background on the movie, characters or actors, I was waiting for the action to take place. At one point Hannibal Lector (oops), I mean Frank Doel says "Very nice,,, very tasty." When the final credits appeared, I realized this was not that kind of movie. Since then I have repented to the point that I am tracking down the books that are mentioned. Interestingly the movie is almost word for word the book.
am 16. April 2005
Like many people I saw a movie first. Naturally due to media constraints, you expect certain amount of the book to be homogenized. So I wanted to read what was missing. To my amazement very little was missing or modified. I don't normally read this sort of book. So I was surprised at finding myself wanting more when it finished.
Also until I read the book I did not realize that Charing Cross Road was a real place. The whole book is based on a collection of correspondence between Helene Hanff, an avid book reader, and Frank Doel an agent for British bookseller.
My wife has taken this one step further and is collecting all the books that were mentioned in the correspondence. Some of these books appear to have been reprinted due to this publication.
If you can find it there is a book called "The Library of Helen Hanff."
I wonder what became of all the other people described in the correspondents after the book.
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.
am 2. Januar 2016
wird von dem Film nicht enttäuscht sein. Britisch unterkühlt, hervorragend gespielt und die Auswahl der Buchszenen für den Film ist sehr gelungen. Ohne das Buch vorher gelesen zu haben, bleibt einem der Film wahrscheinlich etwas fremd.Er biedert sich nicht an. Der Zuschauer scheint ihm recht gleichgültig zu sein. Etwa so, wie es der amerikanischen Hauptfigur häufig gleichgültig ist, wie ihre emotionalen Ausbrüche auf der anderen Seite ankommen. Es braucht die sanfte Toleranz der britischen Seite, um über die gemeinsame Liebe zum Buch doch wieder zur Freundschaft zurück zu kommen. (Und die Fresspakte helfen natürlich auch!) Der Film nimmt wenig Rücksicht auf etwaige Informationsmängel beim nicht-britischen Publikum. Auch deshalb empfiehlt es sich für Nicht-Briten, zuerst das Buch zu lesen.