We are going back to 1987 for this movie review. Recently I was scrolling through the listing guide for television when I noticed a movie that top billed Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench. That list piqued my attention. When I saw that it was a movie was put out by Mel Brooks film company, I almost passed it by. I did not have any interest in an unknown cousin of Blazing Saddles.
I am so glad that the Anthony Hopkins appeal to me overruled the Mel Brooks disinterest. This movie was well worth the time and I highly recommend it.
The movie will not appeal to those who need explosions, chases, sex and violence in their flicks. It will certainly appeal to those who are Angliophiles and bibliophiles. In the opening scenes set in post World War II, Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) searches for out of print English Literature books in the bookstores of New York City. Hanff eventually writes to an antiquarian book shoppe in London manned by Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins).
I was hooked when the old book shoppe came into view. It looked like the kind of place that I could spend days exploring.
Hanff and Doel begin corresponding back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. Hanff, a writer by profession, requests certain books and Doel provides them for her. Since the folks in London were still experiencing rationing after the war, Hanff expresses her gratitude to the folks at the shoppe by sending them a care package of food goodies.
In her correspondence, Hanff is a surprising joy to the demur British Doel. It is a movie built upon great dialogue and written conversation. Again, it is well worth the investment of your time.
My only issue with the movie did not lie in any deficiencies. Being a huge fan of the movie Shadowlands, I found myself seeing Hopkins’ character as C.S. Lewis. When Hopkins took on the role of Lewis, the setting and storyline were very similar to this movie. In both movies, Hopkins character is a British man of letters in the mid 20th century. In both cases, his character corresponds with an American woman who has a contrasting American style to his proper British one.
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In this clip, Doel hears an American woman in his shop and wonders if it might be Hanff. It wasn’t, and he returns to a volume by Yeats.