84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

PG | 99 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 13 February 1987

Director:

David Jones

Writer:

Hugh Whitemore

Producer:

Geoffrey Helman

Cinematographer:

Brian West

Editor:

Chris Wimble

Production Company:

Brooksfilms
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HISTORY

       Screenwriter Hugh Whitemore previously adapted Helene Hanff's 1970 autobiography, 84 Charing Cross Road, for a BBC TV special, according to a 3 May 1986 Screen International article.
       A 9 Oct 1985 HR news brief announced that principal photography was set to begin mid-Nov 1985. However, six months later, the 1 Apr 1986 HR announced that filming had started that week at Shepperton Studios in England. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the Shepperton sound stage used as the Marks & Co. bookstore set had its scene-dock doors open onto the studio lot so a facsimile of Charing Cross Road could be recreated outside the shop's windows. The road set included moving vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. For the store's interior, production designer Eileen Diss obtained over 12,000 books to stock the shelves. A scene for the film was also shot on location at London's South Bank to recreate the 1951 Festival of Britain.
       Filming in England ended after sixteen days, at which time director David Jones, producer Geoffrey Helman, and director of photography Brian West traveled to New York City to coordinate location shooting there. After a ten-day planning session, principal photography was set to resume in New York City on 28 April 1986, according to the 16 Apr 1986 Var. Locations included the 34th Street main post office, the City of New York Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Brooklyn's Borough Hall, and Central Park.
       The 25 Jul 1986 HR reported that the film was originally intended to be released on 25 Dec 1986 in New York City and Los Angeles, CA, but distributor Columbia ... More Less

       Screenwriter Hugh Whitemore previously adapted Helene Hanff's 1970 autobiography, 84 Charing Cross Road, for a BBC TV special, according to a 3 May 1986 Screen International article.
       A 9 Oct 1985 HR news brief announced that principal photography was set to begin mid-Nov 1985. However, six months later, the 1 Apr 1986 HR announced that filming had started that week at Shepperton Studios in England. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the Shepperton sound stage used as the Marks & Co. bookstore set had its scene-dock doors open onto the studio lot so a facsimile of Charing Cross Road could be recreated outside the shop's windows. The road set included moving vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. For the store's interior, production designer Eileen Diss obtained over 12,000 books to stock the shelves. A scene for the film was also shot on location at London's South Bank to recreate the 1951 Festival of Britain.
       Filming in England ended after sixteen days, at which time director David Jones, producer Geoffrey Helman, and director of photography Brian West traveled to New York City to coordinate location shooting there. After a ten-day planning session, principal photography was set to resume in New York City on 28 April 1986, according to the 16 Apr 1986 Var. Locations included the 34th Street main post office, the City of New York Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Brooklyn's Borough Hall, and Central Park.
       The 25 Jul 1986 HR reported that the film was originally intended to be released on 25 Dec 1986 in New York City and Los Angeles, CA, but distributor Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. decided to push the release back to mid-Jan 1987. This change was made in anticipation of Anne Bancroft's possible nomination for a Best Actress Academy Award for another film released earlier that year, 'night, Mother (1986, see entry). The studio did not want Bancroft to receive a second nomination for 84 Charing Cross Road, thus splitting her vote and lessening her chance of winning an Academy Award. Bancroft was not nominated for either film.
       The 23 Dec 1986 HR stated that the film was set to make its world premiere 26 Dec 1986 at the U.S. Film Festival in Park City, UT. According to articles in the 24 Dec 1986 Var and 9 Jan 1987 HR, the film was also selected to screen in Leicester Square, London, on 23 Mar 1987 for the annual Royal Film Performance benefitting the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund. Queen Elizabeth II was expected to be in attendance at this screening.
      The end credits include the following written acknowledgement: "Special thanks to...The New York City Mayors Office for Film, Theatre and Broadcasting and the New York Police Department Motion Picture Unit; Mutual Broadcasting System; The Choir of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York"; and the statement, "Made at Lee International Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England and on location in England and New York City."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1987
p. 3, 45.
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1987
p. 1.
New York Times
13 Feb 1987
p. 10.
Screen International
3 May 1986
p. 334.
Variety
16 Apr 1986.
---
Variety
24 Dec 1986.
---
Variety
28 Jan 1987
p. 20, 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Brooksfilms Production
A David Jones Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr, New York
Prod mgr, London
1st asst dir, New York
1st asst dir, London
2d asst dir, New York
2d asst dir, London
3d asst dir, New York
3d asst dir, London
D.G.A. trainee, New York
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op, New York
Cam op, London
Cam focus, New York
Can focus, London
Clapper-loader, New York
Clapper-loader, London
Cam key grip, New York
Cam key grip, London
Still photog, New York
Still photog, London
Elec gaffer, New York
Elec gaffer, London
Elec best boy, New York
Elec best boy, London
Grip, New York
Grip, New York
Grip, New York
Grip, New York
Cam and lenses supplied by
Lighting equip
Processing
Processing
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des, London
Prod des, New York
Asst art dir, New York
Asst art dir, London
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed, New York
1st asst ed, London
2d asst ed, London
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, New York
Prod buyer, London
Const mgr, New York
Const mgr, London
Scenic & Lettering artist, New York
Scenic & Lettering artist, New York
Scenic & Lettering artist, London
Scenic & Lettering artist, London
Draughtsman, London
Prop master, New York
Prop master, London
Stand-by props, New York
Stand-by props, New York
Stand-by props, London
Stand-by props, London
Dressing props, New York
Dressing props, New York
Dressing props, New York
Dressing props, London
Dressing props, London
Dressing props, London
Key set builder, New York
Key set builder, London
Const shop mgr, New York
Stand-by carpenter, London
Stand-by painter, London
Stand-by rigger, London
Stand-by stagehand, London
COSTUMES
Cost des, New York
Cost des, London
Asst to cost des, New York
Ward supv, New York
Ward supv, London
Ward master, London
Ward asst, New York
Ward asst, London
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Orch, London
SOUND
Sd mixer, New York
Sd mixer, London
Sd boom, New York
Sd boom, London
Sd maintenance, New York
Sd maintenance, London
Sd ed, London
2d sd ed, London
Asst sd ed, London
Studio rec, New York
Dubbing mixer, London
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Chief make-up artist, New York
Chief make-up artist, London
Make-up artist, London
Chief hairdresser, New York
Chief hairdresser, London
Hairdresser, London
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, New York
Casting, New York
Casting, London
Loc mgr, New York
Loc mgr, London
Scr supv, New York
Scr supv, London
Prod office coord, New York
Prod office coord, London
Loc asst, New York
Loc asst, London
Unit pub
Prod auditor, New York
Prod auditor, London
Asst auditor, New York
Asst auditor, London
Extras casting, New York
Prod's asst, London
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod asst, New York
Prod office runner, New York
Prod office runner, London
Transport capt, New York
Transport capt, London
Deco Towers provided by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (New York, 1970) and the play of the same name written by James Roose-Evans (New York, 7 Dec 1982).
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 February 1987
Premiere Information:
U.S. Film Festival premiere: 26 December 1986
New York opening: 13 February 1987
Los Angeles opening: 20 March 1987
Production Date:
began week of 1 April 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 March 1987
Copyright Number:
PA327333
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28282
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1970, elderly American author Helene Hanff takes her first trip to London, England. Arriving in the city, Helene visits a dusty and abandoned shop at 84 Charing Cross Road. She recalls her life in New York City when, on 5 October 1949, she was unable to buy inexpensive old books by British authors at a used bookstore. After seeing an advertisement in the Saturday Review of Literature, she composes a letter to Marks & Co., a London antiquarian bookseller, to inquire about a selection of affordable books that she desires. In London, Marks & Co.'s proprietor, Frank Doel, replies that his store is sending Helene two-thirds of the books on her list and promises to track down the remaining third, which includes an old English Protestant Bible. Helene leaves her apartment in a hurry when she discovers that her books from England have been delivered. She is so excited by the package that she runs back inside and composes a "Thank You" letter to Marks & Co. Later, she asks her British friend Brian to convert the English currency on the Marks & Co. invoice and is ecstatic to learn that she owes a little more than $5. When Frank acquires the rest of Helene's books, including the Bible, he mails them to her. Although Helene is thrilled to receive the second package, she writes a letter to Frank expressing her anger at how the Protestants have mangled the Bible's original, beautiful prose. She also asks if Marks & Co. has a copy of Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations ... +


In 1970, elderly American author Helene Hanff takes her first trip to London, England. Arriving in the city, Helene visits a dusty and abandoned shop at 84 Charing Cross Road. She recalls her life in New York City when, on 5 October 1949, she was unable to buy inexpensive old books by British authors at a used bookstore. After seeing an advertisement in the Saturday Review of Literature, she composes a letter to Marks & Co., a London antiquarian bookseller, to inquire about a selection of affordable books that she desires. In London, Marks & Co.'s proprietor, Frank Doel, replies that his store is sending Helene two-thirds of the books on her list and promises to track down the remaining third, which includes an old English Protestant Bible. Helene leaves her apartment in a hurry when she discovers that her books from England have been delivered. She is so excited by the package that she runs back inside and composes a "Thank You" letter to Marks & Co. Later, she asks her British friend Brian to convert the English currency on the Marks & Co. invoice and is ecstatic to learn that she owes a little more than $5. When Frank acquires the rest of Helene's books, including the Bible, he mails them to her. Although Helene is thrilled to receive the second package, she writes a letter to Frank expressing her anger at how the Protestants have mangled the Bible's original, beautiful prose. She also asks if Marks & Co. has a copy of Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations that includes the Greek dialogues. Luckily, Marks & Co. has that very edition in their store. Later, Helene is distraught to hear that London is still rationing food to its citizens long after World War II has ended. Brian encourages her to send inexpensive, yet plentiful, food packages from Denmark to Marks & Co. for Christmas. When Helene's food package arrives in London, Frank portions out the contents to himself and his employees. During the following Lent, Cecily Farr, Frank's secretary, slips a personal note to Helene into her next shipment without Frank's knowledge. Cecily writes that everyone in the store is curious about Helene's personal life and would like a photograph so they can put a face to her letters. Helene responds that she is just a poor, working class woman with unusual literary tastes and that she fantasizes about the day she can eventually visit London. When Frank receives a new collection of books, he sets aside a first edition of John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University for Helene. However, after receiving Newman's book, Helene sends Frank a scolding letter because it came wrapped in pages torn from another book. Frank apologizes, but explains that the torn pages came from a worthless, damaged book. For Brian's birthday, Helene bakes a Yorkshire pudding for Brian, his girlfriend Kay, and their friend Maxine Bellamy. The next day, Helene receives a phone call announcing that she is being considered for a well-paying job writing scripts for the television series The Adventures of Ellery Queen. Cecily and two other Marks & Co. employees, Megan Wells and Bill Humphries, write to Helene, thanking her for the food packages from Denmark that she has had sent to the store. At a countryside estate, Frank acquires an old book of Elizabethan lyricists, which fulfills a request Helene previously made for romantic poetry. While on a trip to London, Maxine visits the Marks & Co. store, which she describes in great detail to Helene in a letter. However, Frank and his secretary are out to lunch during the visit, so Maxine never gets a chance to introduce herself. While babysitting for her friends Ed and Ginny, Helene soothes the restless baby by reading passages from Newman's Idea of a University. For Christmas, Frank and the Marks & Co. employees send Helene a fancy linen tablecloth as a gift while Frank's wife, Nora, sends photographs of herself, Frank, and their children. George Martin, an elderly Marks & Co. employee, falls ill, so Frank visits him in the hospital and reads him Helene's latest letter. When Maxine takes another trip to London, Helene instructs her to give Frank a gift of nylon stockings to give to Nora and his daughters. When Frank is out at lunch again, Maxine slips the nylons onto his desk unnoticed. When Frank writes to thank Helene, he reports that George has passed away. Although Helene has made enough money from writing for Ellery Queen to afford a trip to London, her plans are derailed when she is forced to undergo expensive dental surgery. While watching Queen Elizabeth's coronation on television, Frank serves ham sandwiches made from Helene's food packages to his friends. Later, Frank intently watches an American woman at the store buying a copy of George Orwell essays, but when she says she is from Delaware, he stops himself from speaking to her. One day, Helene is evicted from her one-room apartment due to renovations, so she rents a larger, fancier apartment in a high rise. A few years later, after selling a story to Harper's magazine, Helene gets a job writing an autobiographical book. She is then arrested after yelling at a police officer during a student sit-in at Columbia University. After returning home and watching the demonstrations on television, Helene reads a letter informing her that Frank passed away on 22 Dec 1969 due to peritonitis following a burst appendix. Days later, on impulse, Helene calls a travel agent and arranges for a trip to London. Visiting the now-closed Marks & Co., Helene says to the empty store, "Here I am, Frankie. I finally made it." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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