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A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 3,455 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 17 critic

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 »
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Title: A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Elizabeth Allan ...
Edna May Oliver ...
...
...
Blanche Yurka ...
Henry B. Walthall ...
Donald Woods ...
Walter Catlett ...
Fritz Leiber ...
...
Mitchell Lewis ...
Claude Gillingwater ...
...
...
Seamstress
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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:

 »
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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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer David O. Selznick also masterminded another Dickens adaptation that same year, George Cukor's David Copperfield (1935). Both films starred Basil Rathbone, Edna May Oliver and Elizabeth Allan and both were nominated for Best Film Academy Awards. 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

Lucie Manette: You know, Sydney, sometimes it's the part of a friend to criticize, too.
Sydney Carton: Oh, when there's any hope of reformation, yes; but with me, it's hopeless.
Lucie Manette: I don't believe it. I refuse to believe it.
Sydney Carton: Oh, I admit that once when... when I first knew you, the sight of you and your home stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. I had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream that ended in nothing, but you inspired it.
Lucie Manette: Must it end in nothing?
Sydney Carton: ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Egmont Overture, Op. 84
(1809-10) (uncredited)
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
Freely arranged by Herbert Stothart
Played as background music by The MGM Symphony Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Adaptation With Colman & Much More
29 October 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Perhaps best known for Ronald Colman's signature performance as Sidney Carton, this excellent adaptation of Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities" also has a lot of other strengths to offer. Colman is joined by the likes of Edna May Oliver and Basil Rathbone in a fine cast that brings the characters to life. The story itself is filled with good scenes, ranging from the exciting Bastille scene to courtroom showdowns to important confrontations between the characters.

The novel contains a lot more material than would ever fit into a normal-length movie, and the screenplay does a good job of selecting sequences that fit together and that work well on the screen. While differing in places from the original, it preserves the most important themes and ideas. The French Revolution is an interesting and multi-layered subject, and a good number of high-quality classic films are set in the period. The Dickens novel, in particular, lends itself readily to a cinema adaptation.

The role of Sidney Carton is almost an actor's dream, an unlikely hero who has to battle his own limitations as well as the situation around him. Colman's classic style does full justice to the role, making the character fully sympathetic without pretending that he is something he is not, and without drawing attention away from the overall themes and focus of the story. Most present-day actors would be far too self-absorbed to play the role as it should be played.

Almost everything in this version is satisfying and enjoyable. It combines plenty of drama with some good lighter moments and period detail, almost all of it done with skill. Colman himself clinches it with his memorable portrayal of a challenging and interesting character.


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