Though this slim volume by Helene Hanff has been dramatized numerous times (the Anne Bancroft/Anthony Hopkins film, the play in both London and New York), this is possibly the best adaptation of them all.
Plus, there is not only this fine program, but we have the author's own reactions to its preparation and production recorded in the sequel to "84" and "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street," a book called "Q's Legacy."
The superb performances by Jackson and Finlay and the faithful duplication of the bookshop and Hanff's apartment, were all filmed in a BBC studio with the author looking on. They even went so far as to use the actual books she bought from Marks & Co.--restored to their original condition by the Queen's own bookbinder. The whole thing just reeks of authenticity. I also prefer the excerpts chosen from the book in this version to the later film. Jackson also worked very hard to get the inflections and mannerisms of Miss Hanff.
The film is good, made great by Hopkins's portrayal of Frank Doel, but in an effort to "open up" the story, they lost its focus and added too much extraneous material.
All this deepens the tragedy that Miss Hanff, despite her legion of fans, wonderful books and their sale to theatre and movies, died in abject poverty.
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