84 Charing Cross Road, film review

This is a film about an American lady in the 1950s ordering books by post from an old bookshop on the Charing Cross Road. It's funny and warm hearted and nostalgic. You shouldn't need to know much more than that to go and watch it.

I am all in favour of books and films that promote the value of reading classic English literature, that show you can have an interesting life without leaving your room, and which make no use of fast or exhilarating events to create a dramatic plot. As well as making you pine for old-fashioned furniture, a London that never quite existed, and the joy of a life in poverty as an undiscovered writer, this film should send you hurrying off to look for your copies of Donne's Sermons, Walton's Lives, Bullen’s Shorter Elizabethan Lyrics, and Johnson on Shakespeare. If you are unfamiliar with these books there is very little I can do to help you at this stage other than to wish you the best of luck with whatever sort of life you are trying to live.

Anne Bamcroft and Anthony Hopkins are superb. It's the sort of movie you don't see much anymore, but which you will thoroughly enjoy if you want to see a 1980s film based on a novel filmed in the style of a sub-Merchant Ivory number. Judy Dench plays a cameo. Is there a better sort of film than this? I watched it twice.

I went straight off to order the Helene Hanff Omnibus (US link). She wrote the memoir the film is based on. Her books look like wonderful examples of literary autobiography and common reader criticism. She was a passionate autodidact. Zena Hitz would approve.

What else are you waiting for? Get the snacks.

Watch 84 Charing Cross Road (US link).


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