MovieChat Forums > A Tale of Two CitiesĀ (1935) Discussion > A far far inferior version of the book

A far far inferior version of the book


I watched this wanting to like it. However, it is a faint imitation that compresses 30 years into a few, two trials into one, adds it's own fantasies ( foreign troops in Paris? ) etc etc. And I can't get past the hammy acting style of the era.

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1) You would need to make the movie 24 hours or more long if you're going to include everything from the book (calling Erich von Stroheim! Or Andy Warhol!)

2) You really should "get over the acting style of the era." It's a creature of the silent screen era it had recently displaced; and the silent film acting style, in turn, was based on the acting style of stage players in which actors gesticulated and otherwise strained to make themselves heard and understood by the patrons sitting all the way in the back rows.

3) People in real life in the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries affected a manner in their behavior and written and oral communications that you, apparently, aren't able to abide today; doubtless, future generations will look back at you, me, and all our contempories today as being "quaint" and "dated" -- or do you really think that OUR generation has reached the everlasting pinacle of human evolution and achievement? And yet, doesn't an attitude like that ooze of misplaced and inappropriate smugness, snobbery and arrogance? As for me, I'll take Shakesperian or Dickensian dialogue over modern gutter / street lingo and behavior, ANY day!

And the acting is quite good anyway. Ronald Colman, Edna May Oliver, Blanche Yurka, et al, did just fine in their deliveries and with the script they were given to act out; so, please, DO "get over it."



Okay folks, show's over, nothing to see here!

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Exactly, vinidici. Coleman's performance could by no one's calculation be considered 'Quaint" or "dated". It was simply magnificent, imo. And, I can't imagine Blanche Yurka's impassioned appeal to the assembly presented in the monotonic, self-conscious, lazy performance style of many of today's acting notables. Yurka's performance is a director's dream come true.

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I saw the broadway musical of this it was great. One of the reasons whu the show folded was because the story was complicated and long

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I disagree. It's a great movie... especially for its day. You can't think of it in terms of the book.

In fact, I think it's a master-class in screen writing. When I read the book I couldn't imagine writing a 2hr movie out of this story but I think the guy did the best possible job.

Frankly, the weakest part of the movie is what so many people like: Ronald Colman. I think his performance is wooden and captures very little of the nastiness of Sidney Carton... before his 'conversion'.

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Frankly, the weakest part of the movie is what so many people like: Ronald Colman. I think his performance is wooden and captures very little of the nastiness of Sidney Carton... before his 'conversion.'


We seem to be forgetting that the Hayes Production Code was brand spanking new in 1935. Film heroes, according to the Code, must now be polished and sterling or, failing these, "redeemed." It would take decades worth of exploring the constraints, paramaters and loopholes of the Code for narrative and acting to evolve into the more edgy and compelling.

And I'll see your "wooden" and raise it "Ronald Colman was one of the best actors in all filmdom!"

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Ronald Colman -could- act; no doubt.

But Hayes code or no, the character he plays bears little resemblance to the Sidney of the book and to me, that is a real shame. The subtlety of Carton's character in the book is one of its best features.

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Well, usually you can hardly blame the actors for the materaial -- good, bad or indifferent -- that they're often given to work with by directors and screenwriters. It's the old story of many a motion picture adaptation of lengthy novels.

But again, there's only so much you can cram into film adaptations of novels: Sidney Carton often takes a back seat to the action and characterization of the other players in this drama. Blanche Yurka, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone and even Walter Catlett in a tour-de-force serio-comic performance, as well as other colorful supporting players, were given their screentime and Colman had to do as best he could with what was left for him.

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I think the screenplay is great. I completely -get- why he plays it that way. It was pretty much SOP for that day. And I -like- the movie... as a movie from that age. The same way I dig Captain Blood, etc.

But I also get why people who -love- the book wouldn't enjoy this much. It's a stretch to make Carton the 'star' of the movie... he's just not a big part of the book until almost the very end. Nobody's 'fault'. Just a missed opportunity. I can't think of too many 2hr movies that do 'sprawling story' very well without bending the story all to hell.

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Aw. Poor baby doesn't get it. Stick to the book then, Einstein.

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Now, now -- be nice, aciolino. It's all subjective stuff. If the OP prefers the book and, rightly or wrongly (and I think he IS wrong!), doesn't think much of this screen adaptation, it's his prerogative.

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