Russian prince goes to Monte Carlo just after World War I with money supplied him by Parisian Russians. He wins but the casino operators want him honor the tradition of returning to the ... See full summary »
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>
Strains of the Gregorian chant Missa Pro Defunctis Dies Irae appear in the prison scene when the aristocrats try to encourage each other to go bravely to their deaths. See more »
In a meal scene just before Sydney meets Lucie's baby, a crew member is seen in a reflection in the window. See more »
[after the Marquis' coach runs over and kills a peasant child, he gets out of the coach and speaks to the onlookers]
Marquis St. Evremonde:
It's extraordinary to me that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is forever in the way. How do you know what injury you might do to my horses?
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With the exception of David Copperfield this is probably Hollywood's most accomplished treatment of a Charles Dickens work. Sumptuously mounted and produced in grand MGM style it has the the perfect voice and charm of Ronald Colman as Sidney Carton, a stalwart supporting cast and magnificently choreographed large scale crowd scenes depicting the out of control energy and fury of the revolt and subsequent reign of terror.
Colman's charming cynic wins us over early given he is surrounded by just cause with a Dicken's roster of pompous bores and hypocrites caught up in their own self importance. He drinks and offends but who can blame him. The sardonic wit of the film extends beyond Carton though by way of Dickens "cinematic" descriptive style that sharply conveys through both character and setting distracting dark humor over the grim proceedings by intermingling comic portraits with the sober cruel personages while making incisive social commentary. A laudable supporting cast consisting of Reginald Owen, Edna May Oliver, Billy Bevan, Blanche Yurka's Madame DeFarge and Basil Rathbone's venal Marquis de Evermonde truly do bring the pages to life, though I will admit an Oliver, Yurka death match near the end does take liberties with the tome.
Oliver Marsh's photography is commendable throughout whether conveying panorama in the excellently edited storming of the Bastille and raucous courtroom scenes or the tight tension filled cramped ominously lit interiors of cells or the De Farge wine shop.
With Colman in the lead and every MGM department clicking on all cylinders Tale of Two Cities remains fresh and vital 75 years later. It is one of those rear films that embraces rather than wrestle with a classic literary work which it does here with grandeur and confidence.
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