84, Charing Cross Road,

The other evening, I was scanning through the thing, that passes as what’s on the television; and I came upon a channel listed under the  ‘Entertainment’ misnomer, Foxtel Classics; and running through the fare on offer for said ‘other evening’ I came across the film entitled 84, Charing Cross Road’, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. 

Taken by complete surprise; I clicked the button marked ‘i’ on the remote control thingy and got a brief synopsis, and yes indeed, it was a movie made back in the 1980’s of the book by Helen Hanff.

Having, only a couple of years back, stumbled onto this work, (thanks to a post that I follow on WordPress) and been somewhat enchanted, I wondered how were they to make a movie of an epistolary novel?

The calibre of Miss Bancroft and Mr Hopkins in the leading rolls was enough to convince me to watch this program,

So I did.

A “Classic’ it is not, it’s not a great movie either; the best that can be said for it is, that it’s a nice movie; sort of! To it’s credit, it did try to stick closely to the story which unfolds through the letters, that is the book.

The cast also includes Judi Dench, who needs no introduction; Ian McNeice, probably best known to some of the readers, as Bert Large, in the English series, Doc Martin; and an old favourite of mine Maurice Denham.


Maurice Denham, I recall this actor from the wireless program “Much Binding In The Marsh”, which aired shortly after the end of the war. The main ‘stars’ of which were Kenneth Horne and Richard ‘Stinker; Murdoch, a couple of ex RAF officers who’d come up with the idea for the show.

But back to Charing Cross Road, though the movie stayed close to the book, many scenes were ridiculous, obviously it wasn’t thought that research was necessary; but I’m not going in to detail, and bore those that got this far, to death, well not deliberately.

The bloke who directed this piece, should have known better; he was older than me, not by much, one year. 

There has never been such a dull, miserable mob, as the staff at 84 Charing Cross Road, never a smile cracked; and the way they performed over the arrival of a ‘food parcel’ from Miss Hanff, was ludicrous. You’d think they were dying of starvation! Ian McNeice was almost as large as he is now playing the part of Bert. 

Maurice Denham, as George Martin, the proprietor of 84, goes in ecstasy with his cat upon opening a can of what appear to be bangers/sausages/snags  and tells his cat that “We are in for a treat tonight”. This presumably is in the mid 1950s.

Now I don’t know what happened after I left London at the end February 1951, but this I do know, there was no problem buying bangers/sausages/snags,  probably because they didn’t have meat, well not much meat, in them. 

They were not rationed in my time, you may recall when I wrote about “George the Goose”, how I fed the family every day on  bangers/ sausages/ snags. I’d just pop up to the butchers every day and buy a pound of sausages please. I was a polite young fellow. 

Too, I can never remember seeing Londoners walking around looking grim, ever!

When I started work in April 1950 at an Insurance office, it was much more fun than going to school. Norman Hornby, Jimmy Green ,Cynthia Turner, Greenslade and me, the office was full of banter, from 9.30, til 5. And the work got done!

But obviously not at,

                                                                84, Charing Cross Road,                                                  London, W.C.2

But as I said it’s a nice film; sort of  😀



34 thoughts on “84, Charing Cross Road,

  1. Brian, I was enthralled by the book when I read it.in 1987 when it was first released in Australia. It has found its place on my list of books I will never throw away.
    I still remember that great line when they write to her and address her as “Dear Madam” and she replies, “I hope Dear Madam doesn’t mean in England what it means in America.” I think that is how it went. And I agree, the film is quite acceptable, but it doesn’t capture the magnificence of the relationship between Helene and Mr Doel. Thanks for the review, I must read the book again.


    1. You had me worried there John, I think the line you quote is from the movie, and not the book. I’ve just read the first few letters and I can not find it. The first letter Frank Doel wrote is the only one where he opened with Dear Madam, ( Strange thing is, in April 1950 when I stated working in an office, I was told that in letters addressed to a lady you never start ‘Dear Madam’ always and only just ‘Madam’, I never asked why but have always followed those instructions. Even to this day).
      Miss Hanff’s second letter made no mention or complaint of the use of the word ‘Madam’.
      I agree that it doesn’t cover the relationship between the two, which is a love relationship; not a romantic love but out of respect for each others love of books.
      It is a book that is worth reading often.


      1. Yes, It has been a while and it could have come from either the book or the film, but, on reflection, it is more likely to have been put into the film.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes; it’s definitely not in the book; but it’s really of no great moment, perhaps it’s a line she should have written.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Actually I just found it. She adds a note on the bottom of her letter dated November 3, 1949.
          “I hope ‘madam’ doesn’t mean over there what it does here’ and his reply is addressed to Dear Miss Hanff.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. That’s very odd. It doesn’t appear in my copy which ends:
          “I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.
          Helen Hanff.”
          My edition is 2014 and I suppose it’s more than likely they deleted it for some obscure PC nonsense; because the reply was addressed to Dear Miss Hanff.

          The good old days when females were either Miss or Missus


        4. The quote was at the bottom of that letter, below her Signature.
          My copy is 1997. The world had more sense of humour back then.

          Liked by 2 people

        5. Perhaps it was added then, after they saw the movie, but have now gone back to the real letter, by excluding it.
          I agree with your bit about humour but it was even better in 1935.
          Well it had to be didn’t it?


        6. Must have been the end of it though. After ’35 it degenerated into war and conflict.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. I was being facetious; I was born in 35


        8. And I was being a smart arse. I knew you were.


        9. …and you failed!

          Miserably 👿 😈 🐻


  2. I had that book once upon a time. I believe it was a gift from someone who reads more than I do. I never got around to reading it, and after several moves, no longer have it. Don’t know what happened to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well for shame PT, how could you receive a book and never read it? Shame indeed..
      Well it’s just a little book around 70 pages, about three quarters full, and so easy to read.
      Well worth the effort of going on line, buying a copy and reading. I do recommend it.
      For whatever a recommendation from me is worth ❓


  3. Well you just know how much I LOVE the book, and its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. However – I have never seen the film, and after that glowing review, I guess I never will. If its worth anything to you, although I doubt it, I did watch a classic the other night on free to air . . . Thelma and Louise!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And a jolly good film too; T & L I have watched a few times, and it never disappoints.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with Gwen on the book and never having seen the film

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not a film you’d go out of your way to see after reading my blurb, its as I said a nice film, sort of!
      That sounds a bit contradictory, after all I did go out of my way to view it, didn’t I? says he scratching head exiting stage right

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I, too, love the book and still have my well thumbed paperback copy. It is a book I enjoy re-reading, as it takes you into a wonderful world of quests, with the searching for obscure books which leads to a surprising friendship.

    I must confess here, that however I did enjoy the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonder you can find your well thumbed copy Ira, hidden away amongst your great library. I’ll wager it’s the equal of the one owned by Helen Hanff. 🙂


  6. Love the line – “Ian McNeice was almost as large as he is now playing the part of Bert”.
    84 Charing Cross Road is now a McDonalds restaurant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrew, didn’t think anything of that line when writing it, just went back to read what I said, and must agree it’s a good line.

      That’s very sad, to go from a treasure to a trollop (I know that’s not right, but it sounds good) Frank & Helen must be writhing in their graves

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoy reading movie and book reviews! Thank you for sharing this post, My Lord BofB! I’ve not read this book or seen the movie…so I need to now!

    (Ha! I typed “…seen this book or read the movie…” so I had to correct my errors. Although I must say…some of my favorite movies have been ones I had to read subtitles on. 🙂 )

    HUGS!!! 🙂
    PS…How is Coco doing?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It looks perfect to me and makes complete sense. The movie is kind of nice, not the sort , that one would go out of their way to see. At least there’s no one running around, gun/s in hand shooting at anything or nothing. It is saved by the calibre of the cast.

      Thank you for inquiring after my Coco. He had the operation on his rear right leg, and it all sounded rather horrible when the Doctor told me what he’d performed. He looks very sad and forlorn not being able to run around chasing the little lizards that run around the garden, but he’s smiling and wagging his tail for me, conning me for treats, how can I deny him?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Give Coco a treat from me, too. Glad to hear he is doing better! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “Woof, woof woof woof”:D 😛 ❤ 🙂 says Coco, extra pleased with the treats you sent him 😀 😈 Thanks Carolyn 😀 🐻

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I have some catching up to do, I see! Thanks for the review and ensuing comments. I’m glad to hear Coco made it through surgery and is milking its benefits for all he’s worth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a new one. I think I’ll look for the book (and maybe the sequel – I like series) and avoid the movie. Something I do in many cases.
    Pet Coco for me, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coco’s in hospital 😥 😥 😥


      1. OH, MY! RC cat is organizing an all Realm’s paws on deck effort to end healing energy and warmth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. thank you RC 🐱 Coco needs all the love he can get

          Liked by 1 person

        2. an SOS never to be ignored or denied. Paws crossed and tails joining in hope

          Liked by 1 person

        3. What more could I ask for? All will be fine

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I bought my copy through Fishpond, very small book less than 80 pages wasn’t expensive

      Liked by 1 person

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