84 Charing Cross Road

Director: David Jones
Screenwriters: Hugh Whitmore

Institute History

  • 1987 Sundance Film Festival


In 1969, Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) arrives in London from New York, the fulfillment of a twenty-year dream to visit a city she has grown to love. She instructs a cabby to take her to "84 Charing Cross Road". So begins the start of a nostalgic journey into the past. 84 Charing Cross Road focuses on Helene and her relationship with Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins), the chief buyer of a London bookstore with whom she corresponds for much of the post-war period. It begins in 1949, with Helene’s simple request for out-of-print books, but develops over the years into a deep epistolary friendship with the entire book store staff, Frank above all.

The letters exchanged between Frank and Helene are a device to develop the story no only of their own lives, but also to record passing milestones on both sides of the Atlantic. What emerges is a warm, mature portrait of two lives, two countries, and a spirit of camaraderie that bound them together. Helene is finally able to visit Frank, but what she finds is painfully other than what she expected. Known for his comedies, executive producer Mel Brooks has fashioned a strong and, in its best sense, an “adult” work, foregoing romance and sentimentality for a portrait of deep friendship, Both leads, Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, are excellent, portraying two unique characters whose destinies are intimately linked, but fated never to meet.

Screening Details

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