Just Pillow Talk’s Birthday Nightmare: 84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

Well, this should be much better. Surely? It’s a highly regarded classic starring some genuine heavyweights in Anne Bancroft, Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins. Sure, the subject matter may be a touch whimsical, but it’s a heavy drama albeit one with a long pedigree and a very respectable IMDB rating.

What I find surprising about his list, though, is the lack of light relief. Everything on it is either painfully awful, or very heavy.  He hasn’t drawn a single film so far that’s a nice and simple action film, or an actually good comedy.

So here’s Just Pillow Talk with a short and sweet review…

I’ll put this out there right from the beginning: my list has made me angry..like hulk angry, but not daddy issues hulk angry.  The 80’s, while treating me to a couple halfway decent and one brilliant film(s), have also punched me in the balls a couple times with some horrid films.  So I’m more liable to shoot first and ask questions later.  With my present state of mind, 84 Charring Cross Road is probably not the best film for me to watch.  I need something with guns and wonderful boobs to bring back a smile to my face.  I feel inclined to apologize in advance for a very uninteresting review about an uninteresting movie.  The red wine I’ve had before isn’t helping either, since I’m a bit sleepy now…

Helene (Anne Bancroft) is in NY as a script reader who cannot find British literature in the 40’s in the city.  Luckily she stumbles across an ad in some paper from a London bookstore, located on 84 Charing Cross Road, who have just what she’s looking for: mail order books.  She sends off a note requesting some books and hears back from Frank (Anthony Hopkins) who sends back the requested books.  This continues, with Helene even sending over food, which they are forever grateful for.  In return Frank sends over a special book for her, which she in turn appreciates.  This goes on for years and their friendship grows.  In fact, Helene has all the intention to visit Frank in London, but her plans get dashed due to extravagant dental work that she needs.  The $2,500 she has to shell out sinks her European trip and Frank is devastated.  Hopkins plays this scene very well, the look on his face is one of sadness/shock/confusion.

Those same emotions get played out a bit later when an American shows up in their bookstore looking for a hard to find book, and you can see in his face the hope that it’s Helene.  It’s of course not, and once again his hopes are dashed.  He doesn’t let a bit of those feelings spill over onto the letters he sends to Helene, so everything carries on as ‘normal’.  Helene feels the same way as Frank does, only she tells this periodically into the camera, just not in such direct terms.  Unfortunately Frank ends up passing away.  It’s finally then, surrounded by the books Frank sent her, that Helene decides to get her ass to Mars London, to see the bookstore.  She looks into the camera and tells Frankie she finally made it.

So what to make of this movie?  It’s clearly not for me, as I found it to be quite boring and uneventful.  It involved voice overs by Hopkins and Bancroft, and talking directly into the camera, ostensibly to each other.  The acting was fine, but there’s nothing memorable going on…not a scene that stuck out.  I repeatedly found myself looking at the clock wondering how much longer does this movie have?  It certainly is not dire like some of the other disease ridden filth I’ve had to watch before, but it is by no means a movie that I found to be entertaining.  Sure it is competently made and I get that they had developed a lasting relationship with correspondence lasting something like 20 or so years, but I really didn’t feel anything for the characters.  Oh please Frankie, pray for my Brooklyn Dodgers…sure Helena, and toss around some good thoughts for our football club that is languishing at the bottom of the standings.  Wow, that’s great.

I know this is a pretty shit review, but this movie had no impact on me one way or another.  Blah, that about sums it up.  I just can’t muster up anything to say about it.

I know I’ve being way too harsh, but I’m giving it 1 toothless dragon out of 4.  I saw that again this weekend and it’s way more entertaining.

Next up, like it fucking matters.

Pillow out.

The Nightmare so far…

1973 The World’s Greatest Athlete 1 / 4

1974 Deranged 0.5 / 4

1975 Shampoo 1.5 / 4

1976 Taxi Driver 3 / 4

1977 Black Samurai 1.5 / 4

1978 The Betsy 0 / 4

1979 Quintet 0 / 4

1980 Hero at Large 2/4

1981 Dogs of War 2.5/4

1982 The Beast Within 0/4: The Orangutan of Doom

1983 King of Comedy 3/4

1984 Blame it on Rio

1985 Lost in America 0/4

1986 Quicksilver

1987 84 Charing Cross Road (1 out of 4)




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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

53 responses to “Just Pillow Talk’s Birthday Nightmare: 84 Charing Cross Road (1987)”

  1. Jarv says :

    Well, that’s your first review on a film that did nothing at all for you.

    Have you got anything light coming- aside from Blame it on Rio (which has the potential to be horrid as well).

    • just pillow talk says :

      Wayne’s World.

      And then…nothing…in terms of lightness.

      Netflix must know that Blame it on Rio may put me over the edge, and have yet to send it to me. Instead they sent Shoot to Kill, which I think would be passable at worst:

      FBI agent Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier) has just been paired with tracker Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger) in order to find a killer who’s led law enforcement officials into the treacherous forest of the desolate Pacific Northwest. The two mismatched professionals must get over their personality differences in order to catch the elusive murderer, who has just taken Knox’s girlfriend (Kirstie Alley) as his most recent hostage.

  2. Jarv says :


    I’ve just been working out averages. My list (27 films so far) averages 1.7 out of 4.

    Pillows list (13 so far) averages 1.2 with 4 rated 0 or less

    However, after 13 films, I was on 1.9 with 2 rated 0 or less

    I’m going to work out Droid’s as well. This bodes very badly for JPT as mine won’t fall much further- and I’ve got two fantastic films coming.

    • just pillow talk says :

      Bah…my average rating could never come close to approaching a 2. I have just two more that are a guaranteed 3 or higher. After that…

      And it’s 1.23, thank you very much.

      • Jarv says :

        Thank you Mr. Accountant.

        Mine’s 1.72 then.

        Droid’s is still 2.20

      • Jarv says :

        Point being, Mine is due to go up significantly, with 3 3+ movies remaining out of 6. So, I’ll end up round about the 2 mark.

        Droid’s will probably drop a wee bit, I’d imagine (he had a very friendly run in the early 90’s) but not much. I’d expect him to finish round about the other side of the 2 mark.

        Yours, on the other hand, will struggle to stay over 1, given that you’ve already had two of your best 3 films.

      • Droid says :

        I’ve got a couple of utter turkeys coming up. One’s I can’t even be bothered writing about. And I’ve got a pretty decent comedy as well. The other couple are a mystery.

      • Jarv says :

        You’re only 6 or 7 away from completion as well.

        That’s why I think it will drop. Do the one word review for the one you can’t be arsed to do properly. As a rarity, that’s effective. Or just include the rating on the list.

      • Jarv says :

        The other point is how this relates to release patterns. Clearly, what with Droid being at the Beginning of August and me at the end, August is a MUCH better month to be born in in terms of Cinema than February, I wonder how this works across the calendar.

        I’d take a bet on Feb/ March being the worst.

      • Droid says :

        Jan/Feb or September I’d say. Traditionally the dumping ground. October-December you get big titles, animation or oscar bait. And March-August you get summer movies, which is hit and miss.

      • Jarv says :

        I looked at it, but there’s a LOT of good stuff in September-

        Last year, for example: The Town, Easy A, Buried, Wall St 2, That Owl Thing, Catfish and Never Let Me Go were all September, and spread as well. 2000 had The Watcher, The Way of the Gun, Nurse Betty, Billy Eliot and Remember the Titans. 1990 has both Goodfellas and Pacific Heights.

        September is a surprisingly solid month.

        February/ March will be the shittest. I’ll just check.

      • Jarv says :

        Just briefly looked, and it’s February worst by a long way across those sample years I just did, and September is better than August.

      • Droid says :

        Remember the Titans and The Watcher are fucking awful films.

      • Jarv says :

        Haven’t seen either. I seem to remember them both being quite highly praised.

      • Droid says :

        The Watcher? With Keanu as a serial killer? That got dreadful reviews. I think Titans was reasonably recieved, but it’s fucking shit. Denzel’s class was the only thing that made it remotely bearable.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve checked. I’m imagining things about The Watcher.

        I was thinking of something else entirely.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Remember the Titans is meh.

      • koutchboom says :

        I heard the guy that the movie is based on speak once, and he was old and rambling and just talked about his relationship with Denzel the whole time.

    • Droid says :

      Mine will be a lot higher. I’ve had some really good ones, and some decent ones. And I wasn’t overly harsh on the bad ones, apart from The Collector, which is offensively shit.

  3. Jarv says :

    Droid’s is interesting. Off 27 reviews, he’s averaging 2.2.

    When you look at this further, his has had the least “utter crap” films on it, with only the collector scoring 0, (although a couple of others could quite easily have also gone that low).

    Looking at the three lists so far, mine is the most wildly inconsistent- with some classics propping up some shit, Pillows is the most depressing- and it’s only going to go down when he hits the 21st Century, and Droid’s falls in the middle.

    Allowing for half a point discrepancy- I’d have given Taxi Driver more, for example, Signs less, whereas almost everyone else would have given some of mine (Bring it on) more, they aren’t that different in quality. I may revisit this when all lists are complete.

    • just pillow talk says :

      What the 21st century doesn’t have is even one halfway decent film in there, whereas, even though they have sucked donkey balls, at least the 70’s and 80’s have had at least one shining star smushed in between utter shit.

      2.2 average…

      The question will be: will Droid’s average rating actually double my average rating? Fuck, I hope a couple or so films surprise me.

      • Jarv says :

        Never mind Droid’s. I think mine will.

        I’ve looked back at your provisional list and some of the shite on there is unbelievable (Yes, I do know where it is to retrieve for moments like this:

        2011 – The Eagle
        2010 – Valentine’s Day
        2009 – Friday the 13th
        2008 – Step Up 2: The Streets
        2007 – Daddy’s Little Girls
        2006 – Firewall
        2005 – Son of the Mask
        2004 – 50 First Dates
        2003 – Dark Blue
        2002 – John Q
        2001 – Down to Earth or Sweet November
        2000 – The Beach
        1999 – My Favorite Martian
        1998 – Sphere
        1997 – That Darn Cat
        1996 – Mr. Wrong
        1995 – Heavyweights
        1994 – Blank Check
        1993 – The Temp
        1992 – Wayne’s World
        1991 – Silence of the Lambs
        1990 – Revenge
        1989 – The Mighty Quinn
        1988 – Shoot to Kill
        1987 – 84 Charing Cross Road 1/4
        1986 – Quicksilver
        1985 – Lost in America 0
        1984 – Blame it on Rio
        1983 – King of Comedy 3/4
        1982 – The Beast Within Orangutan of Doom
        1981 – The Dogs of War 2.5/4
        1980 – Hero at Large 2/4
        1979 Quintet 0 / 4
        1978 The Betsy 0 / 4
        1977 Black Samurai 1.5 / 4
        1976 Taxi Driver 3 / 4
        1975 Shampoo 1.5 / 4
        1974 Deranged 0.5 / 4
        1973 The World’s Greatest Athlete 1 / 4

        I reckon you’ve got 7 below 1/2 films to come.

      • Jarv says :

        The 7 below half are: TDC, The Temp, John Q, Son of the Mask, 50 First Dates, Sweet November, Sphere,

        In fact, there may be more in there.

      • just pillow talk says :

        ’99 is Blast from the Past.
        ’01 is Down to Earth.

        The question that should be asked is: what ones are going to be above 2?

        Silence of the Lambs
        Wayne’s World
        The Eagle

        After that, it starts getting fuzzy.

  4. just pillow talk says :

    It really makes me weep when I look at my whole list instead of one decade at a time.

    • Jarv says :

      Above 2:

      Silence, Wayne’s World, Blast From the Past, The Eagle (apparently),

      That’s off what I’ve seen.

      Tell you what though. Wise move ditching Sweet November. I showed Mrs. Jarv what you would be watching when I made her watch Exorcist: The Beginning the other day (to demonstrate how lucky she was in comparison) and she took one look at it and pronounced it as worse than anything on my list. She is, naturally, wrong as she didn’t sit through Xanadu or Columbus (let’s ignore her opinion of Dirty Dancing), but it’s meant to be pretty fucking awful.

      • Jarv says :

        I think that’s Keanu as well, actually.

      • just pillow talk says :

        Down to Earth:

        Stand-up comedian Lance Barton (Chris Rock) is used to dying onstage, but not in real life. That’s what happens, though, when guardian angel Mr. Keyes (Eugene Levy) transports Barton to heaven. But there’s been a huge error; Barton isn’t supposed to die for another 50 years! To correct the gaffe, Keyes returns Barton to Earth — in the body of an elderly white millionaire — in this retelling of the 1978 Warren Beatty film Heaven Can Wait.

        It will be dire, but it’s an unknown dire. It’s got to be better than Sweet November, it’s just got to.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh Christ. I’ve seen that. It’s horrible.

        Better than Sweet November though. Which is apparently a weepie, and Mrs. Jarv (the woman that likes Beaches) says it’s shit.

      • koutchboom says :

        I’ve seen it, if you hate Rock you’ll hate it, but if you don’t mind Rock its fine.

      • Droid says :

        I’ve seen some of Down To Earth. It’s dogshit.

        The Eagle and Blast are 2.5, WW is 3.5 (generous, but not when you consider the dearth of decent comedy) and Silence is 10 out of 4.

      • Jarv says :

        He’ll need that 10 to prop up the rest.

      • just pillow talk says :

        YES! Better than Sweet November…wonder if that’s on the poster?

        “Dogshit that’s better than Sweet November!”

  5. ThereWolf says :

    Never had any interest in seeing this one – it sounded earnest but tedious.

    I shall continue to avoid.

  6. ThereWolf says :

    I’ve got January. I’m finding it difficult to nail down release dates on my birthday, I’m having to switch around to UK/ foreign releases to get close. US releases start to get more consistent around this time in the 1990’s. It’s a fair old fucking list (where in the world it was released in brackets)…

    1965 – 36 Hours (US)
    1966 – The Shop On Main Street (US)
    1967 – The Night Of The Generals (UK)
    1968 – Up The Junction (UK)
    1969 – Some Girls Do (UK)
    1970 – The Wild Bunch (UK)
    1971 – Countess Dracula (UK)
    1972 – Under Milk Wood (UK)
    1973 – Last Tango In Paris (UK)
    1974 – Lacombe, Lucien (FRA)
    1975 – The Towering Inferno (UK)
    1976 – Raise Ravens (SPA)
    1977 – The Terminators (UK)
    1978 – Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (FRA)
    1979 – Love On The Run (FRA)
    1980 – Windows (US)
    1981 – The Incredible Shrinking Woman (US)
    1982 – The Border (US)
    1983 – Danton (POL)
    1984 – Broadway Danny Rose (US)
    1985 – Phenomena (ITA)
    1986 – Stammheim (GER)
    1987 – Radio Days (US)
    1988 – Braddock: Missing In Action 3 (US)
    1989 – Cohen & Tate (US)
    1990 – Universal Laws (JAP)
    1991 – Eve Of Destruction (US)
    1992 – Hurricane Smith (US)
    1993 – Matinee (US)
    1994 – Blink (US)
    1995 – Before Sunrise (US)
    1996 – Bed Of Roses (US)
    1997 – Shadow Conspiracy (US)
    1998 – Desperate Measures (US)
    1999 – Jawbreaker (US)
    2000 – Isn’t She Great (US)
    2001 – Brotherhood Of The Wolf (FRA)
    2002 – The Count Of Monte Cristo (US)
    2003 – Biker Boyz (US)
    2004 – The Perfect Score (US)
    2005 – Creep (UK)
    2006 – Teenage Wasteland (UK)
    2007 – Blood & Chocolate (US)
    2008 – Untraceable (US)
    2009 – The Uninvited (US)
    2010 – Edge Of Darkness (US)
    2011 – The Rite (US)
    2012 – ?

    Not seen a lot of those and if I get around to doing this series, a few of these may be hard to get hold of & therefore the list could change.

  7. Droid says :

    Once again, I’ve never heard of this movie. And it sounds an irritating combination of dull and pretentious. Pass.

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