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A Tale of Two Cities [1935 film]

by Jack Conway (Director), S. N. Behrman (Screenwriter), W.P. Lipscomb (Screenwriter)

Other authors: Elizabeth Allan (Actor), Ronald Colman (Actor), Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen (Actor), Basil Rathbone (Actor)

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261716,158 (3.5)1
"An elaborate adaptation of Dickens' classic tale of the French Revolution. Dissipated lawyer Sydney Carton defends emigre Charles Darnay from charges of spying against England. He becomes enamored of Darnay's fiancée, Lucie Manette, and agrees to help her save Darnay from the guillotine when he is captured by Revolutionaries in Paris"--Marg Baskin in the IMDB, viewed Dec. 12, 2006.… (more)
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It's okay

I watched this one night after watching the 1989 James Wilby version, and in several ways I found it superior to that more recent one. The mob scenes in Paris had people stretching as far as the eye can see instead of topping out at maybe 30 or 40 rather harmless looking individuals. The muddy Dover road and the filthy Paris street where the wine cask broke seemed more authentic. I thought that both Stryver and Cruncher were more interesting in the 1935 version, and Colman's Carton definitely came across more sympathetically than Wilby's.

Nevertheless, I felt this movie was a pale imitation of the novel. Here are some the reasons:

1) The movie felt too American (almost like a Western) and too permeated with a chipper attitude.

2) While it's nice not to have Carton sulking throughout the movie, I think Colman's portrayal goes too far in the opposite direction. I feel that the Carton that Dickens created needed that night wandering the streets of Paris pondering life and death and salvation to give him the strength to go through with his sacrifice. The closing episode between Carton and the seamstress is one of the most powerful in literature, and it's disappointing that that episode loses so much power when translated to the screen.

3) I've got nothing against Christmas, but I disagree with the filmmaker's decision to turn this into a Christmas movie (complete with anachronistic Christmas carols).

4) Dickens was not just a good storyteller; he had a remarkable mastery of the English language. Of necessity, his text needs to be cut and pared in order to make a movie of reasonable length, but most dramatizations of his work seem to go far beyond what's necessary in replacing the author's words with words that the screenwriter/director/producer like better. I felt that this film didn't preserve as much of the author's magical phrasing as it might have. ( )
  cpg | Oct 15, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conway, JackDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Behrman, S. N.Screenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lipscomb, W.P.Screenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Allan, ElizabethActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colman, RonaldActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliver, Edna Maysecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Owen, ReginaldActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rathbone, BasilActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"An elaborate adaptation of Dickens' classic tale of the French Revolution. Dissipated lawyer Sydney Carton defends emigre Charles Darnay from charges of spying against England. He becomes enamored of Darnay's fiancée, Lucie Manette, and agrees to help her save Darnay from the guillotine when he is captured by Revolutionaries in Paris"--Marg Baskin in the IMDB, viewed Dec. 12, 2006.

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