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84 Charing Cross Road [UK Import]
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A story about love and the love of books, 84 Charing Cross Road features Academy Award(r) winners Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins in stellar performances. Helen Hanff (Bancroft), a feisty New York writer, mails a letter to a small London bookshop requesting some rare English classics. Frank Doel (Hopkins), the reserved English bookseller, answers her request, beginning a touching and humorous correspondence that spans two continents and two decades. Hanff's aloof British demeanor, but their mutual love of books forms a bond that deepens with each passing year. Their intimate, richly detailed letters draw us into their lives as Helen and Frank share theirdreams, hopes, sorrows and joys - and, in doing so, develop a lasting and extraordinary friendship.
1949 schreibt die literaturbegeisterte Amerikanerin Helen Hanff einen Brief an die renommierte Londoner Buchhandlung Marks & Co. Dies ist der Beginn einer ungewöhnlichen wunderschönen Freundschaft zwischen ihr und dem Bibliothekar Frank Doel. Erst 20 Jahre später kommt Helen - inzwischen eine angesehene Autorin - nach London. Doch als sie vor der Buchhandlung in der Charing Cross Road steht, ist es zu spät.
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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.
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.
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.
Gut besetzt und unerwartet unterhaltsam umgesetzt!Man möchte noch mehr davon!!84, Charing Cross Road: Eine Freundschaft in BriefenDie Herzogin der Bloomsbury Street
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