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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities (1958)

A cynical and dissolute English solicitor (Dirk Bogarde) finds himself involved in the lives of a doctor (Stephen Murray) recently released from the Bastille after 18 years, his daughter (Dorothy Tutin) and a French aristocrat (Paul Guers) who has disowned his title and his family. But the long, bloody and vengeful arms of the French Revolution will impact their lives. The celebrated Charles Dickens novel had been adapted to film at least three times prior to this incarnation, most notably the 1935 MGM film with Ronald Colman. This is a solid and strong adaptation and, in several ways, superior to the 1935 version. I'm not normally a fan of Dirk Bogarde's ennui as an acting style but his weariness is perfect here. His Sidney Carton is much better than Colman's. Bogarde lets you see the dissolution in his face. This is a man for whom life holds no joy and no reason for his existence. Generally, the acting (except for Guers) is better including Rosalie Crutchley who makes for a sensational Madame DeFarge. Curiously, the director Ralph Thomas insisted in shooting it in B&W when color would have added some vibrancy to the proceedings. The large cast includes Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, Ian Bannen, Athene Seyler, Leo McKern and Marie Versini.

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