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on 30 July 2014
A very enjoyable film, benefiting from scenes shot in Bourges - including [briefly] the west front of the cathedral.
Everyone is very clean, even when they have been in prison for weeks.
The book sticks in my mind both for its simple plot - simple compared to most of Dickens work - and for its great flights of description. There are a few spots in the film that capture the words of the book especially the scene of Paris and the guillotine. The part of Miss Pross is almost cut completely. She is there in the guise of the wonderful Athene Seyler, but says very little.
Dirk Bogarde makes a workmanlike job of Sidney Carton.. He was a gifted actor, but his Carton lacks the despair that Dickens gave the character. This is perhaps a sign of its era, since no one in the fifties wanted to see despair. The tone of the film is optimistic not heavy, and Bogarde's wistful decadence goes well with its general ethos. He is more like a character from Wilde than from Dickens. but powerful nevertheless.
I found the disparity between Carton and Darnay somewhat odd - why didn't they give Bogarde the chance to play both?
it is in black and white but it suits the piece. I shall watch it with that ennui that Bogarde brings to the role.
Wonderful to see Christopher Lee at his prime playing seriously and with such skill.
The palm for acting goes to Rosalie Crutchley, beautiful here, and giving as always, a committed and potent performance as Madame Defarge.
Why Dickens wrote this, his only historical novel, is hard to say. Perhaps he needed to say that triumph and happiness could be snatched, even out of despair. That out of death and bloodshed new life can flourish. it is certainly his most romantic book, which perhaps explains its popularity with film-makers!
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on 17 October 2013
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.

The ITV DVD is a decent B&W full frame transfer with a nice half hour documentary that includes interviews with director Ralph Thomas and actors Dorothy Tutin and Christopher Lee.
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on 4 March 2012
I am not going to come back to what a lot of people have already said here. This film is a true epic masterpiece with drama, mystery, passion and a fantastic and rarely tackled historical background (the fate of the French émigrés in England during the French Revolution). The production is beautiful, the time well-rendered and the cast is to die for: Bogarde, Tuttin, Cecil Parker, but also Donald Pleasence, Leo McKern, Christopher Lee and my compatriot Paul Guers give stunning performances. As a Frenchman though, I thought I could give a French opinion on what the filmakers (and of course Dickens) made of this tumultuous period. First, it is worth noting that as a book (or a film for that matter!), "A Tale of two cities" is one of the least popular novels of Dickens in France. Is it because the book confront us with a past we are uneasy with? I would rather say that it is the contrast with England that probably did make the French ill at ease with the work. Indeed, it is as if the book was a thinly-veiled warning to the English aristocracy to make sure that the French events would NEVER happen on English soil. Therefore that the aristocracy had to keep evolving. In France, the aristocracy never evolved and nurtured a hatred against its attitude throughout the centuries that climaxed during the Revolution, and this unquenched frustration (so well portrayed in the film) led to the extremism of the popuation that led to a literal blue-blood genocide during the Revolution and the Terror in particular. Don't get me wrong, as a French I am profoundly Republican and without the Revolution I wouldn't be where I am today but the contrasting viewpoints offered by the film (and I guess the book - which I haven't read) are extremely interesting, valid, and make for a great story. On top of it, the locations are very close to where I come from: Valençay, Bourges, Orléans, in the Berry-Indre region in France. Add to this a very informative documentary and you have a memorable DVD, to watch over and over again.
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on 31 March 2010
This is the second time that I have watched the film. I wanted to watch it to remember the French revolution and what the peasants did to the rich! It was read to me by my English teacher when I was 13-14 years of age and it has impacted on me over the years. It combines romance with terror and even for a 1958 film shows that people were acting then. It shows you the infamous guillotine and it reminds me of the bad Queen in Alice in Wonderland who was always saying: "Off with their heads." Dirk Bogarde was brilliant. I think he's wondrful and he has an interesting part to play with some famous last lines!
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on 13 February 2012
This film reminds me of the days before central heating, When it was too cold to go out side and play. Instead being huddled round the coal fire waiting for Sunday Dinner. Its simply among the best. Such as Great Expectations .The ghost goes west and Random Harvest to name but a few. Also do not forget the great British comedies such as Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore. Great stuff.
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on 18 April 2018
A no nonsense adaptation of the novel. I enjoyed it.
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on 30 April 2015
I love Dicken's tales (and films of the same) - previously owned this one in VHS format. This is one I must show the grandchildren (teenagers) as it combines a work of fiction set against the brutal reality of the French Revolution.
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on 31 May 2018
Any dickens work is a joy to watch
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on 26 January 2018
best version made of tale of two cities
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on 14 October 2017
My fault- didn't notice it was a video not a DVD!
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