Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, Jean De Baer, Maurice Denham, Eleanor David, Mercedes Ruehl, Daniel Gerroll, Wendy Morgan, Ian McNeice
Written by: Hugh Whitemore, based on a play by James Roose-Evans and on a book by Helene Hanff
Directed by: David Hugh Jones
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 100
Date: 02/13/1987

84 Charing Cross Road (1986)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Book Love

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This wonderful little gem is something of a critic-proof cult item in my house. My wife and I love it despite its flaws. Anthony Hopkins stars as a British bookshop owner who strikes up a decades-long friendship with an American woman (Anne Bancroft) who at first writes to order books from him but continues to write to tell him about her life and to catch up on his. Not much actually happens, but it's a sheer joy to watch these actors, hear them reading the letters and listening to them talk passionately about books. Future Oscar-winners Judi Dench and Mercedes Ruehl co-star. Columbia/TriStar's new disc is presented in pan-and-scan, but I suspect that not much is actually lost. The only extras are trailers for (yawn) The Remains of the Day and Sense and Sensibility.

Note: I actually visited Charing Cross Road in London in 2003, and was unable to find the number "84," but a reader assures me that the bookshop actually existed, although it long ago closed its doors.

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