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 »
Edna May Oliver
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 <email@example.com>
This marked the last time that Ronald Colman agreed to shave his trademark mustache for a film. See more »
Sydney Carton attends Christmas Eve services ca. 1780 during which "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" is sung to music by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), and John Francis Wade's Latin hymn, "Adeste fideles," is sung in Frederick Oakley's (1802-1880) translation as "O Come, All Ye Faithful." See more »
Knitting woman (tricoteuse):
[the guilloutine strikes once more]
I lost a stitch. Cursed Aristocrats!
See more »
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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