This 1987 movie was based upon a play which was an adaptation of a memoir in letters by our leading lady Helene Hanff(Anne Bancroft), a writer and script reader in post WWII New York whose desire for affordable works of English Literature couldn’t be fulfilled by local booksellers.
Thanks to a magazine ad, she writes the first of many letters to Marks & Co, a London bookshop specializing in old and rare titles with a request for some of her most pressing literary needs. Fortunately, the shop manger Frank Doel(Anthony Hopkins) is most pleased to assist her and already appreciates her ready wit:
What keeps this movie going is showcasing of Helene and Frank in their separate lives , she with her quirky energy and outgoing manners whether she’s helping a good friend or looking for some pepper salami from the local deli, contrasted with his quiet yet heartfelt lifestyle with his second wife Nora(Judi Dench) and their girls whether on a rainy seaside holiday or watching the coronation of the new queen.
While Frank and Helene maintain a long distance friendship, a possible romance between them is somewhat hinted at here but I suspect that even if they had met in real life , nothing of that sort would’ve happened. Although in another lifetime, perhaps…:
Hopkins also gives his role a subtle charm as well, making you wish he and Helene had managed to meet up somehow(spoiler alert, they never did). The balance between them in certain scenes is edited just right with one last letter exchange almost feeling like a direct conversation.
If you love books and bookstores (especially British ones), this is the perfect movie for you and as a bonus, Helene Hanff not only shared her life story in this set of letters but a couple of other books as well (I highly recommend The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and In Show Business). Plenty of good reading to be had here!
Well, thank you all for checking out this mini film festival and I’ll be back in blog business after Labor Day. Enjoy what remains of summer and let’s rejoice in the glories of autumn yet to come: