LISTENER: "Immensely appealing... witty, caustic."
EVENING STANDARD: "20 years of faithful and uproarious correspondence with a book-shop in Charing Cross Road."
CHARITY BLACKSTOCK, BOOKS AND BOOKMEN: "Oh, I enjoyed this. So will you. It is a confoundly sour world we live in, we are all so bloody cynical these days, it is no longer the thing to be enthusiastic, warm, emotional. Miss Hanff is all three, and writes well into the bargain... A lovely read, a must for all who worship books."
ANNE EDWARDS, SUNDAY EXPRESS: "A delightful story - one of the most charming book I have read."
'Underfoot in Showbusiness'
THE STAGE: "Another charmer of a book... fresh, fascinating and very funny indeed."
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: "Beautifully done... I really cannot recommend this book too vigorously."
PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY: "A wonderful, zany, funny memoir... Hanff is as enchanting as ever."
'Duchess of Bloomsbury Street'
THE TIMES: "Another absolute charmer from Miss Hanff."
THE TIMES: "A memoir, a thank-you letter, a sparkling and often moving collage of autobiography from an author whom countless fans regard as a friend."
'Apple of My Eye'
THE TIMES: "Miss Hanff brilliantly updates the difference between East Siders and West Siders in this lively book. New York may be bankrupt. Helene Hanff shows it has riches."
SUNDAY EXPRESS: "Charming, relaxed, informal... very enjoyable to read even if you're not going to New York."
'Letter From New York':
|DAILY MAIL, 1992:
'84 Charing Cross Road'
BARRY NORMAN, RADIO TIMES: "The extraordinary story of a transatlantic friendship between a London bookseller and an aspiring American writer.
Waste not, want not: Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road started as a book and was then adapted into a stage play, a TV play and a screeenplay. Now the latter version, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, returns to television. Rarely can a story have been so efficiently re-cycled. I say it began as a book but that's not strictly true. In fact, it began as a series of letters, dating from the late 1940s, between the aspiring writer Helene Hanff (Bancroft), who lived in New York, and the staff of an antiquarian bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road, whose staff was headed by one Frank Doel (Hopkins).
As far as there is any plot at all, it's a very simple one and in its simplicity lies its charm. What we are presented with is a love story, or rather two love stories - one passionate, the other platonic. The passionate affair involves Helene Hanff's relationship with literature; the platonic one her relationship with the bibliophiles in the bookshop and Frank Doel in particular. When the correspondence began, Britain was still firmly in the grip of post-war austerity and rationing, while America, where rationing had meant, by and large, that people were discouraged from putting more than a quarter of a pound of butter on their baked potatoes, was the land of plenty.
Helene Hanff, however, was New York-poor; she lived pretty well but couldn't afford Manhattan prices for the early editions she coveted. She could, on the other hand, easily afford the sort of laughable prices demanded by the shop in Charing Cross Road. Indeed, as the letters became more frequent and she keeps sending in her orders, your mouth waters enviously at the thought of all those editions of Boswell, Chesterton, Cardinal Newman and the like that she was amassing at a cost per volume of less than you would pay now for a pint of bitter in a pub.
But what stops you from hating her as a small-time looter of Britain's literary heritage is her wit and humour and the affection she develops for the bookshop's staff and their families and for Frank Doel in particular. She sends them food parcels, containing such unheard of luxuries as tinned ham, and the correspondence becomes increasingly warm as she talks of visiting London and dropping in on them all, unannounced. Yet the warmth never develops into intimacy because Doel is very British, very proper and very married. So it it's action you're looking for, forget it. The action takes place off screen in the international postal service which, incidentally, seems more efficient than it is now.
What the story offers is the gradual development of a strong friendship between decent, honourable, likeable people. And since the chief protaganists - Hanff and Doel - are always 3,000 miles apart, this is not an easy thing to do in a movie. But Hugh Whitemore's script, David Jones' direction and the performances of Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins make it work.
84 Charing Cross Road seems to be thekind of gentle, inconsequential picture that only the British film industry, with its deep literary roots, would make. But it was produced by Brooksfilms, which is run by Miss Bancroft's funny, eccentric and totally American husband, Mel Brooks. A timely reminder that we don't have a monopoly of Anglo-Saxon culture - especially as the shop at 84 Charing Cross Road now sells videos."
MEGA-MOVIE CD-ROM: (with acknowledgement to their copyrights)