A Tale Of Two Cities (Original MGM/CBS Home Video Release)
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An elaborate adaptation of Dickens' classic tale of the French Revolution. Dissipated lawyer Sydney Carton defends emigre Charles Darnay from charges of spying against England. He becomes enamored of Darnay's fiancée, Lucie Manette, and agrees to help her save Darnay from the guillotine when he is captured by Revolutionaries in Paris.
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Amazon confirms that this is the same item I purchased way back when.
As you can tell, I don't watch the films I buy very often; this is because I own so many that, even though I watch one every evening, it takes nearly 3 years now to go through them all (this is not a boast, just an explanation). They are stored vertically on bookshelves or media storage of various types. Other DVDs have degraded over time, but it is a very rare occurrence (perhaps 0.5%), not counting two that just plain refused to play all of a sudden (as it were). I have, over the years removed more films (VHS and DVD) from my collection after seeing them a few times and deciding I didn't want to keep them than that.
So when I find Amazon selling the same edition that failed for me, I begin to wonder if I want to invest in another copy. Perhaps, in a few months, I will feel like doing so.
On the other hand, the performance of Ronald Coleman in the role of the sacrificial Sydney Carton seems typical of modern movie anti-heroes--those that appear, say, in the 1950s and afterwards. His anti-hero personality (disguising a heroic loving heart that will give all) makes him stand out as a singular character in the midst of all the others--and that's suitable because his destiny stands out amidst those of the more ordinary types in the story who will live to enjoy more ordinary fates than he.
Besides the fact that this movie is a deeply moving version of a story about an extraordinary act of sacrificial love, for which I especially cherish and mourn the tragic character of Carton, I remember the film mostly because of Miss Pross as played by Edna May Oliver. One of my favorite of all movie scenes is when Pross stands up to the murderous Madame Defarge. It's so funny when this determined and protective servant/guardian draws herself up, barring the door to her charges within, and declares, "I am an English woman!" and then proceeds to prove herself the dominant of two tigresses as she and the blood-crazed French woman fly into an instantaneous ferocious tangle! Pross is a tough and daunting personality, yet uniquely lovable.
Another great old time character actor best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes appears here as the despicable Count Evremonde. I've always been fascinated with Basil Rathbone as a person having an interesting and unusual face, especially in profile. So, I like to see him in movies just to study the Rathbone bones! (Watch for a good glimpse of his profile in one scene here when he climbs into bed.)
The last time I watched this movie I noticed that the scenes of the storming of the Bastille were actually pretty thrilling! And it's remarkable to think they were accomplished without digital computerization.