A murderous thief on the run with stolen loot forces a poor rancher to guide him across the desert into Mexico. Accompanying them is the rancher's wife, who happens to be the killer's former girlfriend.
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 »
"A Tale of Two Cities" is based on the novel by Charles Dickens. The story is not focused on the plight of the poor in Victorian England as with many of Dickens' novels, but rather an exploration of France prior to and in the wake of the French Revolution.
The nice thing about this film is that it has a sense of the scope of the history it portrays but also tells a personal story with connected people from England and France. The essential story concerns a hunted French aristocrat, an English barrister and a French woman whom they both love. These characters are not only linked to each other but to the French Revolution via the French aristocrat. The film shows the indiscretions by the aristocrats, the desperation of the beggars in Paris prior to the Revolution and but the arbitrary actions of Committee of Public Safety after the Revolution equally well. The transition with the storming of the Bastille was handled well. Importantly this film is in the end a very touching tale of self-sacrifice.
Dirk Bogarde is Sydney Carton, the English barrister of the story. Bogarde is effective at portraying Carton's transition from a comical though shrewd drunkard to a man that achieves a degree of nobility (pardon the pun). Dorothy Tutin and Paul Guers were also solid leads Lucie Manette as Charles Darnay. Donald Pleasence has a relatively small but memorable role as the profiteering spy Barsad. Christopher Lee is well-suited to his oft-played role as a villain, who in this case is a haughty and despicable French aristocrat. Rosalie Crutchley's performance as Madame Defarge also deserves note. Defarge is a truly chilling woman, and Crutchley brings out the transition from quiet glaring knitter to overwrought Reign of Terror fanatic very well. "A Tale of Two Cities" tells a personal story of a group of characters and self-sacrifice but also how France replaced its former repressors with new ones.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?