7.8/10
3,940
60 user 17 critic

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, Romance | 25 December 1935 (USA)
A pair of lookalikes, one a former French aristocrat and the other an alcoholic English lawyer, fall in love with the same woman amongst the turmoil of the French Revolution.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(novel), (screen play) | 5 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When David's father dies, his mother remarries. His new stepfather Murdstone has a mean and cruel view on how to raise a child. When David's mother dies from grief, Murdstone sends David to... See full summary »

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Freddie Bartholomew, Frank Lawton, Edna May Oliver
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During the turbulent days of the French Revolution, Frenchwoman Lucie Manette falls in love with Englishman Charles Darnay who's hiding his true identity and purpose.

Director: Ralph Thomas
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Dorothy Tutin, Cecil Parker
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In early 19th Century France an ex-convict who failed to report to parole is relentlessly pursued over a 20 year period by an obsessive policeman.

Director: Richard Boleslawski
Stars: Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An Englishman on a Ruritarian holiday must impersonate the king when the rightful monarch, a distant cousin, is drugged and kidnapped.

Directors: John Cromwell, W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, C. Aubrey Smith
A Tale of Two Cities (TV Mini-Series 1989)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two men, one an aristocrat and one a drunken lawyer, fall in love with the same woman during the early stages of the French Revolution.

Stars: James Wilby, Xavier Deluc, Serena Gordon
A Tale of Two Cities (TV Movie 1980)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An ex-aristocrat from France and an alcoholic English lawyer find themselves crossing paths and in love with the same woman during the French Revolution.

Director: Jim Goddard
Stars: Chris Sarandon, Peter Cushing, Kenneth More
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The story of a farmer in China: a story of humility and bravery. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as wife. By diligence and frugality the two manage to enlarge their property. But ... See full summary »

Directors: Sidney Franklin, Victor Fleming, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, Walter Connolly
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Three sisters scheme to reunite their divorced parents before their wealthy father marries a conniving gold digger.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Binnie Barnes, Charles Winninger, Alice Brady
San Francisco (1936)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario are rivals for the affections of a beautiful singer, both personally and professionally in 1906 San Francisco.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The biography of the pioneering French microbiologist who helped revolutionize agriculture and medicine.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Josephine Hutchinson, Anita Louise
Lost Horizon (1937)
Adventure | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A plane crash delivers a group of people to the secluded land of Shangri-La -- but is it the miraculous utopia it appears to be?

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton
A Tale of Two Cities (TV Mini-Series 2015)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Stars: Lee Grant, Yu Haibo
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Blanche Yurka ...
...
...
...
Fritz Leiber ...
...
Mitchell Lewis ...
Claude Gillingwater ...
...
...
Edit

Storyline

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. Written by Marg Baskin <marg@asd.raytheon.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Immortal Story of Love and Intrigue During French Revolution! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 December 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charles Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities'  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This was David O. Selznick's last film for MGM. He was able to fund his own studio afterwards largely on the strength of this film's box office receipts. See more »

Goofs

Close up of a paper reporting arrest of Charles Darnay shows a Reuters report. The action takes place in 1785...Paul Reuter was born in 1816 and did not set up his eponymous news agency until 1850. See more »

Quotes

Sydney Carton: Forgive me if I notice that you are affected. I shouldn't respect your sorrow more if you were my own father. From that misfortune, however, you are free. Indeed, that is one thing to be grateful for, I suppose.
See more »

Connections

Version of A Tale of Two Cities (1911) See more »

Soundtracks

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1840)
Lyrics by Charles Wesley (1730)
Sung by a choir in church
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"It was the best of times..."
24 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Most of the fiction of Charles Dickens is set firmly in the 19th Century, from roughly 1820 to 1865 or so. Twice, however, he essayed the historical novel. It was really not his specialty. His rival, William Thackeray, was into the past and constructed several notable tales of 18th Century life ("Henry Esmond", "The Virginians", "Denis Duval", "Barry Lyndon", "Catherine"). Compared to this Dickens only squeezed out "Barnaby Rudge" and "A Tale of Two Cities". The first one (published in 1842) was interesting, as it dealt with a serious riot that almost overthrew the monarchy in 1780. But few people read it. Ironically enough, the following year Dickens wrote a novella of 100 pages which became one of his perennial favorite works - "A Christmas Carol". But the second novel (published in 1859 - as Dickens reached the heights of his literary powers) became one of the greatest historical novels ever written. It also has the best introductory paragraph of any of his novels (see the "summary" line to see the opening of it).

He had prepared on the background to "A Tale of Two Cities" by reading Thomas Carlyle's classic "History of the French Revolution". It might have been better if he had read some of the French historians, for Carlyle was a great colorist (he created the "green-eyed" monster image of Maximillian Robespierre that most British and Americans still adhere to), but he saw the Revolution from an ultra-conservative view. It colors Dickens' version, where nothing good seems to come from the French revolutionaries. In his essay on Dickens, George Orwell says that his constant image of carts filled of guillotine victims made the very word "tumbril" sinister. It did. By all means read this novel, and see this film, but don't base your view of that historical event on the novel or film.

The story follows the events of the Manette and St. Evremonde families and their friends (particularly Sidney Carton, a barrister) in England and France, as well as the growing revolutionary spirit in France that is symbolized by the Defarges from 1780 to 1793. Dickens is basically claiming that the cruelties of the ancien regime (represented by the old Marquis St. Evremond) will end by creating new cruelties and new masters now from the lower classes itself. Monsieur Defarges is somewhat more sympathetic to some people (after Charles is condemned to death by a revolutionary tribunal he sees no reason to continue going after the others), but Madame Defarges, remembering the sufferings of her own family, is willing to kill anybody connected to the aristocrats (including the Englishwoman Miss Pross). When one reads the full final speech of Sidney in the novel he foresees that the new leaders are doomed to be eaten up by the guillotine as well (including Defarges).

Much of the five hundred page novel (one of Dickens shortest novels - which helps it's narrative flow) is cut in the film, but the main points are kept. Possibly the most important cut deals with a minor character, Serjeant Stryver - he is Sidney's boss, and uses Sidney's brilliance to win his cases. He actually is a rival for Lucy Manette's hand in the novel, but this is not in the film. Reginald Owen did well in the part, but it would have been hard to see him as a potential lover (especially as Sidney is played by Ronald Colman, or Darnay by Douglas Woods).

The cast was an excellent one, giving Colman, Woods, Rathbone, Oliver, Yurka, Warner, Walthall, and Catlett exceptionally good moments to shine. Witness Rathbone dismissing the murmurs of the intelligentsia (although he finds Voltaire amusing). Witness Yurka's testimony at Darnay's trial. See Catlett's final moments, watching the last tumbrel of guillotine victims going to their doom, and calming down two men who are shouting with glee (very subtly done, and unusual for Catlett - usually a comic actor). Whether Sidney Carton is Colman's greatest performance is questionable (his mad actor in "A Double Life" is better, as is his George Apley and Dick Heldar), but it is a signature part. To this day he's imitated saying, "It is a far, far better thing I do...." No quote for the other roles is submitted by budding Rich Littles among us.

Such an excellent film owes it's production to one man: David O. Selznick, it's producer. A man who loved literature, Selznick made "A Tale of Two Cities" as one of a series of literary based films (with "David Copperfield", and "Little Lord Fauntleroy") that were uniformly excellent, and culminated in "Gone With The Wind". "A Tale of Two Cities" is not as long as "Gone With The Wind", but shows the same taste and craftsmanship that made the latter film a great one too.


51 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What Happens to Miss Pross? santol321
is it time? madaboo
Lucille LaVerne and Disney's Wicked Queen philboleyn-1
dvd toonnnnn
Book report SeaviewCircle
Edna May Oliver=Chuck Norris magenta1000
Discuss A Tale of Two Cities (1935) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page