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Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks

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  • 84 Charing Cross Road

    • Anna V. Karras
    • 2014-05-20

    What a combo: directed by Mel Brooks, and Anne Bancroft as the quintessential New Yorker of a certain age with a passion for English lit; lucking out on the occasional first edition. Helene Hanff, single, frugal, clacking away on a typewriter and soaking up NYC life in the 1950s. Her correspondent in London, head clerk of a rare books shop, modest, gently humerous, married, and supplier of Helene's biblio habit:the estimable Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel. One would never believe that the Brits, victors in WWII and after that conflict ended in 1945, soldiered on for another 9 years in abject penury and imposed food rations. Without getting didactic this film is a study of 2 cities and 2 cultures involving 2people who are satisfied with very little outside their own heads. Helene writes Marks & Co., asking for a book not to be found on our shores. Frank sends a copy on to her. What develops is a relationship based on mutual hunger. Helene discovers how truly dreadful conditions are in England. Although the care packages she sends to Marks & Co. are unsolicited, they are like manna from heaven to the employees. In turn, Frank cheerfully searches for the volumes she wants. The correspondence begins formally and progresses to a finely tuned affection. Helene Hanff was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She wrote books. She never made much money. Eventually she traveled to London.

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