Posts Tagged ‘Frank Doel’

This is the film adaptation of New York author Helene Hanff’s book, detailing the correspondence between herself and Frank Doel, the chief buyer at at Marks & Co. Antiquarian Booksellers, situated (naturally) at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. The correspondence started in 1949, when Helene contacted the store about obtaining some books. Although they never met, through their letters the friendship deepened, and Helene ended up writing not only to Frank, but also to his wife, and to other employees at the shop.

I adored the book, and was interested to see how it would be adapted into a film (having already been adapted into a successful stage play). It actually works perfectly on film; this is one of those rare occasions when I would say that my enjoyment of the film matched that of the book. Anne Bancroft plays Helene to perfection – capturing the sassy attitude that comes through so well in her letters. Anthony Hopkins is equally excellent as the mild mannered, gentlemanly Frank.

In some ways, it could be said that nothing much happens in this film, but in another sense, SO much happens. It is a film of deep friendship, affection and warmth – and all without a single profanity or sex scene. It is contemplative, affecting, deeply moving, and at times very very funny. It covers almost 20 years of letters, and shows how life changed for both Helene and Frank; she went from being a poor script-reader, to a successful script-writer, while he saw his two daughters grow up, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

This is certainly not a film to watch if you want action, car chases and special effects. But if you want to see a lovely, warm story about friendship across the miles, then this is one that you shouldn’t miss.

Year of release: 1987

Director: David Hugh Jones

Producers: Mel Brooks, Randy Auerbach, Jo Lustig, Geoffrey Helman

Writers: Helene Hanff (book), James Roose-Evans, Hugh Whitemore

Main cast: Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, Jean De Baer, Eleanor David, Mercedes Ruehl, Ian McNeice


Click here for my review of Helene Hanff’s book.


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