Bibliography > Movies About Books

MOVIES DESCRIBED IN GREATER DETAIL BELOW:
A Merry War (1998)
Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Funny Face (1957)
Hello Again (1987)
The Music Man (1962)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Notting Hill (1999)
You’ve Got Mail (1998)

A Merry War (1998)
Cast: Richard E. Grant, Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Wadham
Writer: George Orwell (novel), Alan Plater (screenplay)
Director: Robert Bierman
Plot: Richard E. Grant plays Gordon Comstock, highly successful advertising man in 1930s London, who gives it all up to follow his dream of supporting himself by his poetry. Along the way he works in two very different stores that sell used books. Helena Bonham Carter is his girl friend Rosemary, a designer for the ad agency, who keeps her job and fends off Grant’s advances. Julian Wadham is Ravelston, the wealthy publisher who put out Grant’s first book of poetry. This is an amusing movie with excellent performances and a lot of period atmosphere. Several elements in it are interesting to booklovers: the obsession of the protagonist to earn his living by writing; the different kinds of “Used and Rare” bookstores in which he works as he toils to stay outside the ad business; the patience of the publisher dealing with an unrealistic writer; and the sense that his determination to escape ordinary commercial endeavors come from the desire to remain “pure and untainted” in the highest bookish, intellectual tradition in spite of the need to earn a living.
Awards: It made several “Top Ten Films of 1998” lists.
Available as DVD? YES!

Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester, Janice Rule, Pyewacket
Writer: John Van Druten (play), Daniel Taradash (screenplay)
Director: Richard Quine
Plot: Kim Novak is Gillian Holroyd, a modern-day witch in New York City, who lives with her cat Pyewacket, her familiar, and aunt, Queenie Holroyd (Elsa Lanchester) in a small apartment building. Their upstairs neighbor is publisher Shep Henderson (James Stewart), who visits to complain about some of the odd things going on but falls in love with Gillian, even though he’s already engaged to Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule). Jack Lemmon plays Nicky Holroyd, Gillian’s brother, who’s involved with author Sidney Redlitch (Ernie Kovaks) as he pens a novel about witchcraft that Stewart wants to publish. Gillian does not want the proposed book published because she thinks it’s dangerous to allow others to learn anything about their world. In a film with many interesting character interactions, some of the most charming occur between Gillian and her familiar, Pyewacket, a large Seal Point Siamese cat. Good performances join with some effective set decoration to create a film that’s become something of a classic. Novak never looked better, and Elsa Lanchester is especially appealing.
Awards: The film was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” and “Best Costume Design” and for a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture – Comedy.” Ernie Kovaks was nominated for a Golden Laurel for “Top Male Comedy Performance.” No awards were won.
Available as DVD? YES!

84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Cast: Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, David Hugh Jones
Writer: Helene Hanff (book), James Roose-Evans (play), Hugh Whitemore (screenplay)
Director: David Hugh Jones
Plot: In this film based on a play drawn from a true story, New York script-reader Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) sees an ad in The Saturday Review of Literature for a London bookstore that will fulfill orders for old books by mail. She begins a long business correspondence with Frank P. Doel (Anthony Hopkins), an employee of the bookshop, and gets to know him and his wife (Judi Dench) by mail. The correspondence that takes place between the customer Hanff and the bookseller Doel is priceless and all too familiar to anyone who’s bought books without seeing them first, caring more about the content than the rarity of the particular edition or imprint. This film probably captures best the sense of the power of old books to form connections.
Awards: In the 1988 BAFTAs, Anne Bancroft won for “Best Actress;” Judi Dench was nominated for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role,” but did not win; and Hugh Whitemore, the screenwriter, was nominated for “Best Screenplay-Adapted,” but did not win. In the 1987 Moscow International Film Festival, Anthony Hopkins won for “Best Actor; and David Hugh Jones was nominated for “Golden Prize,” but did not win. In the 1989 USC Scripter Awards, Helene Hanff (the author on whose book the play and film were based) and Hugh Whitemore (the screenwriter) shared the top award.
Available as DVD? YES!

Funny Face (1957)
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, Michel Auclair
Writer: Leonard Gershe
Director: Stanley Donen
Plot: Audrey Hepburn (Jo Stockton) works in a Greenwich Village bookstore, visited by Fred Astaire (Dick Avery, fashion photographer) as he’s looking for an interesting backdrop for a fashion shoot. He takes some shots of Hepburn, sees that she’s spectacularly photogenic, and persuades Kay Thompson (Maggie Prescott), fashion editor, to hire Hepburn to feature in the upcoming Paris collections coverage. Hepburn is an intellectual who wants only to meet her hero, an existentialist writer, who happens to live in Paris. Both Hepburn and Paris show to spectacular advantage. Astaire, although obviously way too old for the youthful Hepburn, is charming as usual. As for Kay Thompson, she’s a howl. A real classic, probably the film in which Hepburn best shows her roots as a dancer. In a way, it’s a tribute to the power of ideas to shape reactions to human emotion and reaction.
Awards: In the 1958 Oscars, the film was nominated for four awards (“Best Art Direction,” Best Cinematography,” “Best Costume Design,” and “Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen,” but won none. At the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, the film’s director Stanley Donen was nominated for a Golden Palm, but did not win. In the 1958 Directors Guild of America awards, Stanley Donen was nominated for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures,” but did not win. In the 1958 Golden Laurel awards, Fred Astaire was nominated as “Top Male Musical Performance,” but did not win. In 1957, the National Board of Review, USA, gave the film a “Special Citation” for the photographic innovations employed in its shooting. In 1958, the Writers Guild of America nominated Leonard Gershe for “Best Written American Musical,” but he did not win. In 2007, the DVD was nominated for a Satellite Award as “Best Classic DVD” for the fiftieth anniversary edition, but did not win.
Available as DVD? YES!

Hello Again (1987)
Cast: Shelley Long, Judith Ivey, Gabriel Byrne, Corbin Bernsen, Sela Ward
Writer: Susan Isaacs
Director: Frank Perry
Plot: Shelley Long plays Lucy Chadman, a New Yorker married to a successful surgeon (Corbin Bernsen). She chokes to death at a party, is buried in the usual way, but on the first anniversary of her death is brought back to life by her sister Zelda (Judith Ivey), who finds the right spell in an old book of incantations found in her bookshop. On her unexpected return, Long finds that her husband has remarried, her return is an inconvenience for him, and her new doctor (Gabriel Byrne) is more than ready to take his place.
Awards: None.
Available as DVD? YES!

The Music Man (1962)
Cast: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Pert Kelton, Ron Howard
Writer: Meredith Willson (book), Franklin Lacey (book), Marion Hargrove (screenplay)
Director: Morton DaCosta
Plot: Con man Harold Hill (Robert Preston) arrives in River City, Iowa, ready to pull his latest stunt – persuading the townspeople to hand over a considerable amount of money to pay for the uniforms, instruments, music, and instructions necessary to form a boys’ band. Usually, Harold clears town before the boys make it clear that he hasn’t taught them to play, but this time he gets caught by his attraction to Marion Paroo, “Marian the Librarian” (Shirley Jones). Marian thinks that Harold is a fake but begins to believe that he could help to cheer up her little brother, Winthrop (Ronny Howard), who’s still grieving the loss of their father. Marian enrolls Winthrop in Harold’s band. Marian’s mother (Pert Kelton) thinks she should encourage the romantic attentions of Harold. Marian resists at first because her whole concept of what life and love should be like is formed by her reading of books in the library that she manages for the benefit of the townspeople, who don’t really want a library and think she’s odd to be so obsessed with books. Based on one of the most-successful Broadway musicals of the twentieth century, the film is pure delight. For fans of the grown-up Ron Howard’s films, it’s a particular surprise to see little Ronny – the kid was really good. A particularly interesting device employed in the film is the use of “fade to black” between major scenes, an attempt to re-create the sense of a curtain dropping between acts in a play.
Awards: In the 1963 Oscars, the film won for “Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment;” and was nominated (but did not win) for “Best Picture,” “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color,” “Best Costume Design, Color,” “Best Film Editing,” and “Best Sound.” In the 1963 Directors Guild of America awards, Morton DaCosta was nominated for “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures,” but did not win. In the 1963 Golden Globes, the film won for “Best Motion Picture – Musical,” and was nominated (but did not win) for “Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical/Comedy” (Robert Preston), “Best Motion Picture Actress-Musical/Comedy” (Shirley Jones), “Best Motion Picture Director” (Morton DaCosta), “Best Motion Picture Score” (Meredith Willson), and “Best Supporting Actress” (Hermione Gingold). In the 1963 Laurel Awards, Robert Preston won the Golden Laurel for “Top Male Musical Performance,” and Shirley Jones was nominated (but did not win) for Top Female Musical Performance. In the 1963 Writers Guild of America awards, Marion Hargrove (the scriptwriter) won for “Best Written American Musical.”
Available as DVD? YES!

The Ninth Gate (1999)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner
Writer: Arturo Perez-Reverte (novel), John Brownjohn (screenplay), Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Director: Roman Polanski
Plot: Rare book dealer Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is commissioned by compulsive collector Balkan (Frank Langella) to track down two of the known copies of a rare occult text (Balkan has the third). When the unethical Corso accepts that challenge, he is plunged into a world of old and unusual books, sex, greed, death, and the supernatural. The book on which the movie is based – The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte – was terrific, the movie less so, as it forgoes some of the threads that hold the book together in favor of spectacular special effects. Still, the film does show very well the compulsions that can drive certain major collectors.
Awards: In the 1999 European Film Awards, director Roman Roman Polanski won for “Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema.” In the 2001 Motion Picture Sound Editors awards, the film was nominated (but did not win) for “Best Sound Editing-Foreign Feature.” In the 2001 World Stunt Awards, the film was nominated (but did not win) the Taurus Award for “Best Fire Work.” In the 2001 Saturn awards, sponsored by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, the film was nominated (but did not win) in the “Best Home Video Release” category.
Available as DVD? YES!

Notting Hill (1999)
Cast: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Richard McCabe, Rhys Ifans
Writer: Richard Curtis
Director: Roger Michell
Plot: William Thacker (Hugh Grant) runs a bookshop in Notting Hill, where he also lives a quiet, rather uneventful, poorly dressed existence. One day Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), the most famous movie star in the world, comes into his shop and is drawn to him. On the rebound from an emotionally abusive relationship, she begins an affair with the bookseller that plunges him into a world he isn’t prepared to handle. All comes well in the end, however, at least in the usual Hollywood fashion in which the gorgeous movie star becomes humble and ordinary like everyone else. It’s an amusing-enough film in which the frenzy surrounding major celebrity is reasonably well depicted, but it’s by no means one of the better things that either Roberts or Grant has done. It’s primarily interesting to booklovers because it shows the unlikely associations that spring up with books as the connection.
Awards: In the 1999 Bogey Awards (Germany), the film won the Silver Bogey. In the 1999 European Film Awards, the film was nominated for (but did not win) the “Best Film” award. In the 2000 Brit Awards, the film won a Brit for “Best Soundtrack.” In the 1999 British Comedy Awards, the film won as “Best Comedy Film.” In 1999, the film won the Golden Screen Award in Germany. In 1999, the film was nominated for (but did not win) “Film – Movie of the Summer.” In the 2000 Evening Standard British Film Awards, the film won the “Peter Sellers Award for Comedy.” In 2000, the film was an ASCAP award for being one of the year’s Top Box Office Films. In the 2000 Satellite Awards, the film was nominated for (but did not win) “Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical,” “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical” (Julia Roberts), and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical” (Rhys Ifans). In the 2000 Kids’ Choice Awards, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant were nominated for (but did not win) “Favorite Movie Couple” and Julia Roberts was nominated for (but did not win) “Favorite Movie Actress.” In 2000, the film received the “Outstanding Translated Foreign Film” award from the Huabiao Film Awards. In the 2000 BAFTAs, the film won the “Audience Award” and was nominated for (but did not win) the “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (for Rhys Ifans). In the 2000 Golden Globes, the film was nominated for (but did not win) “Best Motion Picture,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical” (Hugh Grant), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical (Julia Roberts). In the 2000 Csapnivalo Awards, Hugh Grant won a Golden Slate as “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (which he shared with Keanu Reeves). In 2000, in the Empire Awards, UK, the film won “Best British Film,” Hugh Grant won “Best British Actor,” and Roger Michell won “Best British Director.” In 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, the film was nominated for (but did not win) “Favorite Actor – Comedy/Romance” (Hugh Grant), “Favorite Actress – Comedy/Romance” (Julia Roberts), “Favorite Supporting Actor – Comedy/Romance” (Rhys Ifans), and Favorite Supporting Actress – Comedy/Romance (Emma Chambers).
Available as DVD? YES!

You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Dave Chappelle, Dabney Coleman
Writer: Nikolaus Laszlo (original play), Nora Ephron (screenplay), Delia Ephron (screenplay)
Director: Nora Ephron
Plot: Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is the son of the man (Dabney Coleman) who started Fox Books, a chain of super-bookstores, in which Joe is active. The firm’s latest store is being located on the Upper West Side in NYC, just around the corner from a traditional children’s bookstore owned by Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) that has become something of a landmark in the local book community in the decades since Kathleen’s late mother opened it. As her business begins to die and she breaks up with her live-in boy friend (Greg Kinnear), Kathleen’s only consolation is that she is able to vent to an Internet acquaintance via email about everything that is going wrong in her life, particularly about her contempt for and dislike of Joe Fox, who represents everything she detests. What she doesn’t know is that it is Joe to whom she is venting. Joe does know her online identity, but he bides his time until Kathleen starts to come around and he can let her know who he is. The movie was critically derided because it doesn’t stand up to the 1940 original – The Little Shop Around the Corner, a classic that starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Taken on its own terms, it is amusing. Hanks and Ryan are reliably charming, and New York provides a terrific backdrop.
Awards: In 1999, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were nominated for (but did not win) an American Comedy Award for “Funniest Actor / Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role).” In 1999, the film won the BMI Film Music Award. In the 1999 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Meg Ryan won for “Favorite Actress – Comedy/Romance,” Greg Kinnear won for “Favorite Supporting Actor – Comedy/Romance,” and Tom Hanks was nominated (but did not win) for “Favorite Actor – Comedy/Romance.” In 1999, the film won a silver Bogey Award in Germany. In 1999, Meg Ryan won a Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.” In 1999, the film won the Golden Screen award in Germany. In 1999, Meg Ryan was nominated for (but did not win) a Blimp Award as “Favorite Movie Actress” from the Kids’ Choice Awards. In 1999, in the Satellite Awards, the film was nominated for (but did not win) “Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical,” Carole King and Carole Bayer Sager were nominated for (but did not win) “Best Original Song in a Motion Picture,” and Meg Ryan was nominated for (but did not win) “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.”
Available as DVD? YES!

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