A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

So after some technical snafus, which delayed my watching films on my computer at all, I’m sorted out now (finally), so with that, let’s continue:

So, classical Hollywood; what’s the deal with Ronald Colman? I’d never heard of him before Arrowsmith, which bored me nearly to tears, but apparently, he was a big thing in the early-to-mid 30s, and his name is trumpeted at the start of this film like it’s the film’s biggest selling point. Never mind that this is a film adaptation of a Charles Dickens novel; no, this is all about Ronald Colman and his amazing star power, apparently. Well, as someone who’s never read Dickens’ original A Tale of Two Cities, but who’s had experience with Ronald Colman in the past, my expectations for this one were none too stellar, especially considering how high-falutin’ literary adaptations have been in the 30s so far. So, in that, A Tale of Two Cities (the film) exceeded my expectations; it was better than I thought it was going to be. But not by too much, though.

The story is quite complicated, but basically, this is a story of two gentlemen who are both in love with the same woman, all set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. There’s a hell of a lot more to it than that, but I’d run the risk of this plot summary being as long as Wikipedia’s. Still, the film’s story is complicated enough that Ronald Colman, despite being billed as the star, doesn’t show up until a good twenty minutes or so into the film, and from then on he’s on screen for probably only half the remaining running time. Even so, Colman actually does a good job with what he’s given here, even if he isn’t given a whole lot; likely because this was a passion project of Colman’s, and he had a lot of personal investment in it. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that he impressed me, but he was one of the better parts of the film, so I’ll give him a check in the win column for that. All told, however, I didn’t find myself too invested in this film, probably because I hadn’t read the original Dickens novel; I definitely feel that I would’ve gotten a lot more out of this if I’d had history with the source material, but I didn’t, so that’s that.

This was fine, but never once during my watch of it did I feel that this was Best Picture material, which is mostly why I ended up where I ended up with it, just for lack of any other opinion being able to form. This, for me, ended up being another smear-of-grey type of film, the type to be fairly decent in production value and possibly even entertainment, but once it’s over, it quickly vanishes from one’s memory, with no lingering intent to ever watch it again, even if I had the opportunity to. That, I say once again, does not for me the best picture of the year make. If for whatever reason you are a fan of Ronald Colman, and haven’t seen this yet, I feel pretty confident that he’ll impress you with this one. Otherwise, unless you’re a fan of the original novel, there’s not much reason to watch this one.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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