19 thoughts on “TBT: A Tale of Two Cities (1980)

  1. Check out the 1989 miniseries, which featured a combined French and English cast and actually cast two different actors with similar looks to play Darnay and Carton.

  2. I don’t understand one thing–why don’t we find such prominent back lacing in period movies from other centuries?Victorian dresses for example do not feature a conspicuous opening in most cases.But with the 18th century,filmmakers swear to include atleast one backlacing dress or an entire banquet of them for that matter.Is it because of some misinformation circulating around regarding 18th century fashions,or something else?

    1. It really does seem to be a thing w/18th-c. dresses on-screen, but I don’t know why. Maybe bec. the historically accurate method of pinning would be difficult for reuse/rentals — but front-opening w/hooks & eyes would have the same look as a pinned front, imo. Honestly, that’s how I made my first few attempts at 18th-c. gowns, & while they were a bit clunky due to my limited skill, it can work. That’s one thing the the current Poldark generally gets right (with one major exception).

      1. Pinning would definitely be a problem, what with the wearer getting stuck at odd moments and the inevitable losses taking the dress off. It must have been a headache back in the day, much less now.

        1. Not necessarily: sure, it’d take longer to get dressed, but pinning your overdress meant that it always fit perfectly, even if you gained/lost a little weight, or were retaining water that day. You just pinned your dress so that it fit whatever your body was doing at the time. I do see how pinning could be a problem when using cheap fabrics (like this movie), though.

        2. Pinning clothes closed is very easy on an individual basis — reenactors do it all the time, & all of my 18th-c. clothes pin shut (great when my weight fluctuates!). You’re wearing a corset/stays & a smock so you won’t stick yourself.

          But I was just thinking that for movies/TV, it would be difficult bec. they have lots more ppl wearing the garments, they may or may not be made in materials that can take pinning (silk & wool can be pinned like butter! dunno about blends). And not every production uses the same undergarments with a gown, so they could get pokey.

          So yeah, what’s simple for one person may not scale up for many ppl on set.

  3. The only version for me is the 1958 with Dirk Bogarde as Carton and Dorothy Tutin as Lucy Manette. The action of the novel is rearranged to make Carton’s story the central one, and he comes across as both tragic and heroic. The revolutionaries are treated sympathetically, with Mme Lefarge’s back story explaining her heartless lust for revenge.

  4. Most of Dickens villains tend to be working-class or middle-class/trade. I think he was an upper-class wannabe at heart, even if was willing to occasionally criticise them.

  5. I’m amazed that this novel hasn’t been remade since the miniseries starring James Wilby. Meanwhile we’ve had two versions of Little Dorrit, multiple Oliver Twists and a new David Copperfield. I wonder if the French Revolution backdrop is why it isn’t remade more.

  6. Poor Flora Robson indeed! It seems hideously disrespectful to garb her in those hideous gowns… what the hell is that pink stomacher thingy???

  7. I imagine a lifelong study of Victorian literature would only increase the chances of hating Dickens.

  8. Was never able to finish either this TV production or the actual book as I always wanted to slap Sydney Carlton and those who loved/admired him the face for being saps. Which is why I also cannot abide the “Old Curiosity Shop.”

  9. Thanks for this article! This was the first version of The tale of Two Cities I’ve watched, I think more than 25 years ago. I was really impressed as a teenager and I cried in the end. 🤣

  10. I’ve only ever seen the Wishbone version. After seeing the screen caps above, I’ll stick to that.

  11. My goodness, these are awful. True story: the only production of AToTC I’ve seen is the Wishbone episode! I don’t always have patience for Dickens, and I rue the Great Illustrated Classics books I read, which served to inoculate me against rather than interest me in a number of great works, but when I finally did read A Tale of Two Cities, I loved it. I knew the plot, but it still surprised me, and it went from so sarcastic and critical at the end to such beautiful tenderness at the beginning. Strangely I don’t find myself having much interest in watching it. And after your costume review, if I do watch any, it won’t be this one.

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