A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

as Sydney CartonIn this adaptation of the 1859 Dickens novel, Colman gives one of his very best performances. His Sydney Carton, who does a "far, far better thing" than he has ever done gives the film a depth and poignancy it would not otherwise have.

Lawyer Sydney Carton is a disillusioned alcoholic who has retired from life and all its pretenses until he falls in love with Lucie Manette (Elizabeth Allan) the daughter of a French Revolutionary political prisoner. Carton's love is returned only as friendship however, as Lucie is soon married to young aristocrat Darnay (Donald Woods).

Darnay runs afoul of the new French government and is imprisoned and destined for the guillotine - until Carton sacrifices himself in Darnay's place, to go to a "far, far better rest than I have ever known."

In memorable supporting roles are Basil Rathbone as the coldly evil Marquis St. Evremonde (who complains that the exorbitant taxes on the citizens are barely enough to pay his perfume bills), Edna May Oliver as the faithful family retainer, and Blanche Yurka as the frightening Madame De Farge, who knits as heads roll.

Colman's role is pivotal in the film; his Sydney Carton is whom audiences care about and never forget.

as Sydney Carton


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