During the French Revolution, French national Lucie Manette meets and falls in love with Englishman Charles Darnay. He is however hiding his true identity as a member of the French aristocratic Evrémonde family, who he has denounced in private. The Marquis St. Evrémonde in particular was a cruel man, those he wronged who have vowed to see the end of the family line at any cost. Lucie's father Dr. Alexandre Manette, in fact, was imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years because of actions of the Marquis. Into their lives comes English barrister Sydney Carton, who enjoys his alcohol to excess. Carton earlier defended Darnay in a trial on trumped up charges of treason. Carton doesn't really like Darnay in part because Carton also loves Lucie, he realizing that that love is unrequited. But Carton does eventually learn of Darnay's true heritage at a critical time. Carton takes extraordinary measures to ensure Lucie's happiness during this time, which has the potential to be explosive ... Written by
The production company used thousands of American soldiers as extras. The soldiers were posted at nearby military facilities in Orleans, France. The film was shot in the Loire Valley in France. See more »
During the final scenes of the tumbrels rolling to the guillotine, Sydney Carton and the other characters in the tumbrel appear to switch sides. First, they are on the right, then on the left, then on the right again. See more »
Ralph Thomas' direction makes this the best adaptation
Summary: Ralph Thomas' direction makes this the best adaptation
The English 1958 interpretation of Charles Dickens' great novel "A Tale of Two Cities", directed by Ralph Thomas, is a really terrific picture, capturing the essence of Dickens' tale deftly. Thomas' craftily directed black and white adaptation lends itself quite tangibly and nicely to the purposes of the story, I would say more succinctly than the 1935 interpretation directed by Jack Conway. The earlier adaptation featured as many fine performances (Ronald Coleman, Edna Mae Oliver, Basil Rathbone, Blanche Yurka, etc), and succeeded in special effects and cinematography a little better, perhaps, than THIS picture, but Thomas' directing emphasizes the key points of the original story, and this becomes the better picture as a result.
Dirk Bogarde playing Sydney Carton is quite perfect here, and a young Christopher Lee as the conceit driven supercilious Marquis St. Evremonde is fantastic, as is Rosalie Crutchley as the cruel hearted revenge laden Madame Defarge. Cast-wise, both pictures do a great job, and Edna Mae Oliver's performance in the earlier picture is missed here. But the director uses a lighter brush to get many of the complexities of the story in this English version. In one scene, during the climactic period of the story in the dungeon of the Bastille, Barsad (Donald Pleasence), a character of low repute working for whichever side will use him, finally catches onto the heroism of Mr Carton and holds his hand out for a respectful shake. . . with no reply for several seconds. Then, just as he turns to open the door to have the guard take out Mr Carton, who by then is really a passed out Charles Darnay made to look like the supposed drunken Carton . . .the real Mr Carton (Dirk Bogarde) touches his shoulder, just enough to convey that a good angel is bringing hope to the world, even to low characters like Basard. It is very touching. This scene is handled with master craftsmanship by the director. And this sort of directing pervades the film's entirety, which is the primary reason why this movie IS the better of the two, in my opinion.
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