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A Tale of Two Cities (1958)

During the turbulent days of the French Revolution, Frenchwoman Lucie Manette falls in love with Englishman Charles Darnay who's hiding his true identity and purpose.

Director:

Ralph Thomas

Writers:

Charles Dickens (by), T.E.B. Clarke (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Sydney Carton
Dorothy Tutin ... Lucie Manette
Cecil Parker ... Jarvis Lorry
Stephen Murray ... Dr. Manette
Athene Seyler ... Miss Emily Pross
Paul Guers ... Charles Darnay
Marie Versini ... Marie Gabelle
Ian Bannen ... Gabelle
Alfie Bass ... Jerry Cruncher
Ernest Clark ... Stryver
Rosalie Crutchley ... Madame Defarge
Freda Jackson ... The Vengeance
Duncan Lamont ... Ernest Defarge
Christopher Lee ... Marquis St. Evremonde
Leo McKern ... Attorney General--Old Bailey
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An immortal story... A brilliant cast... An unforgettable film of the French Revolution

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 August 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Tale of Two Cities See more »

Filming Locations:

Loire Valley, Loire, France See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Rank Organisation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75: 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

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User Reviews

 
Ralph Thomas' direction makes this the best adaptation
6 December 2007 | by emdragonSee all my reviews

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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