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 movie was filmed in black and white at Director Ralph Thomas' insistence. He explained his choice by saying the movie is based on a novel written in black and white. 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 »
Though I gave the 1935 version of Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" a higher rating (before seeing this version), I'd have to say that this film, directed by Ralph Thomas, is probably better for the most part. This movie, done in black and white, captures the atmosphere of the Dickens novel - the filth and the cruelty - beautifully. No Hollywood gloss here. The cast is strong: Dirk Bogarde, Dorothy Tutin, Donald Pleasance, Ian Bannen, Christopher Lee, Alfie Bass.
Though Sydney is one of Ronald Colman's great roles, it also proved to be a great role for Dirk Bogarde. As much as I love Ronald Colman, he can't quite help but come off as noble, whereas, you really could believe that Bogarde was a drunk and a waste before his final moments. Both men had the great gentleness required for the role. The end of this particular adaptation is very simple and beautiful.
I highly recommend both versions. This one, I think, is closer to the Dickens novel.
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