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Advertisements announce loudly that David O. Selznick, the producer of "David Copperfield", is also the producer of "The Tale of Two Cities"-but don't let that deter you from seeing this latest revival of Dickens. The continuous action of this book lends itself to the movies far better than the Copperfield biography.
The narrative avoids the complicated side plots which muddled the production of the earlier effort.
Cast As Diverse As Characters
Sydney Carton is probably the most complex character Dickens introduced into his many novels, but Ronald Coleman portrays all the idiosyncrasies of the drunken lawyer with an ability that places him among the first of the serious actors of the screen. That indifference which made Bulldog Drummond one of the famous roles of recent years is combined with an underlying nobility which is the keystone of Carton's actions and philosophy.
Edna May Oliver is entitled to many of the remaining honors for her characterization of Miss Pross, the best of the pre-Wodehouse servants. No part could suit her better than that of this stiff, self-righteous, devoted maid-companion, to whom non-churchgoers are Atheists and the whole world is at the call of her ladybird. Blanche Yurka takes the part of Madame DeFarge, the fanatical wife of the wine shop keeper who heads the Jacquerie. She is in the role of an intensely emotional and overbearing personality such as she has played on the legitimate stage for many years under various guises. One of the most interesting scenes is the thunder and lightning clash of Pross and Madame DeFarge in the first knock-down and dragout fight between women we have seen on the screen.
The story has been faithfully recorded with a little telescoping that does no harm to continuity or theme. The only discrepancy that is really noticeable is the complication between Carton and Barsad which becomes necessary because a double for Coleman could not be found to take the part of Charles Darnay and the identification of Darnay had to be frustrated by a species of blackmail over the witness, instead of the genuine resemblance between Carton and Darnay. It is also unfortunate that the movie magnates have to change the inimitable touches which the great authors have included in their works. Dickens knew that cheating at dice would be a great discredit to the witness in the minds of the Old Bailey jury but the director had to change the line to stealing a silver tea pot so as to insert a feeble witticism about its being plated anyway. Fortunately such departures are rare.
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