84 Charing Cross Road Review

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A New York businesslady, Helene Hanff (Bancroft), begins a correspondence with an antiquarian bookseller in London, Frank P. Doel (Hopkins). Initially driven by her desire to receive mail order books, their letter-writing eventually takes in their hopes, fears and loves.


Already a big success on television and the stage, it seemed unthinkable to have anyone else but the British thesps lined up here playing the lead roles. A straightforward yet thorough relationship burgeons and is a pleasure to behold against the perfectly recreated period settings; it’s like reading a good book in a comfortable environment.

This is a low-key, some would say slow, tale of a flourishing love affair between two book lovers. Far from suffering for it’s literary pretensions, the film lounges in them and, as the missives zip across the Atlantic, we are drawn into an almost forgotten world of correspondence by letter.

Sometimes a film sets out not to have you on the edge of your seat, but to have you reclining thoughtfully in it.