7.8/10
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63 user 17 critic

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

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:

Jack Conway, Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited)

Writers:

Charles Dickens (novel), W.P. Lipscomb (screen play) | 5 more credits »
Reviews

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Colman ... Sydney Carton
Elizabeth Allan ... Lucie Manette
Edna May Oliver ... Miss Pross
Reginald Owen ... C.J. Stryver
Basil Rathbone ... Marquis St. Evrémonde
Blanche Yurka ... Madame Therese De Farge
Henry B. Walthall ... Dr. Manette
Donald Woods ... Charles Darnay
Walter Catlett ... Barsad
Fritz Leiber ... Gaspard
H.B. Warner ... Gabelle
Mitchell Lewis ... Ernest De Farge
Claude Gillingwater ... Jarvis Lorry Jr.
Billy Bevan ... Jerry Cruncher
Isabel Jewell ... Seamstress
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Storyline

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 most dramatic love story in the history of literature! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charles Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities' See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (video)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Blanche Yurka's first film in 18 years and also her first sound film. See more »

Goofs

In a meal scene just before Sydney meets Lucie's baby, a crew member is seen in a reflection in the window. See more »

Quotes

[Madame DeFarge has come looking for Lucie and the child. Miss Pross bars her way out]
Miss Pross: Oh no you don't!
Madame Defarge: Let me pass.
Miss Pross: Never! I know what you want. I know what you're after. And thank heaven I'm put here to stop you - for stop you I will!
Madame Defarge: In the name of the Republic...
Miss Pross: In the name of no one, you evil woman. You've killed many innocent people. No doubt you'll kill many more; but my ladybird you shall never touch.
Madame Defarge: No? Do you know who I am?
Miss Pross: You might - from your appearance - be the wife of Lucifer; ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of A Tale of Two Cities (1907) See more »

Soundtracks

Romance No.6, Op.6 (None But the Lonely Heart)
(1869) (uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Adaptation With Colman & Much More
29 October 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee 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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