and the Cold War
There was probably never a book by a great humorist, and an artist so
proliﬁc in the conception of character, with so little humour and so few
rememberable ﬁgures. Its merits lie elsewhere. (John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens (1872))
RALPH T HOMAS' S A Tale of Two Cities of 1958 occupies a secure if modest place among that bunch of 1950s British releases based on novels by Dickens, including Brian Desmond Hurst's Scrooge (1951) and Noel Langley's The Pickwick Papers (1952). 1 When all the arguments about successfully ﬁlming Dickens are considered it must be conceded that his ﬁction offers signiﬁcant qualities that appeal to ﬁlm-makers: strong and contrasting characters, fascinating plots and frequent confrontations and collisions of personality. In unsuspected ways, Ralph Thomas's ﬁlm is indeed one of the best ﬁlm versions of a Dickens novel and part of this rests upon the fact that, as Dickens's novels go, A Tale of Two Cities is unusual. Dickens elaborately works up material in this novel which must have been marinating in his imagination. Two themes stand out: the dual personality, the doppelgänger or alter ego; and mob behaviour when public order collapses. Several strands come together. Dickens had voluminously researched the Gordon Riots which were, up to then, the worst public riots in British history. Charles Mackay's Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1845)____________________
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Publication information: Book title: British Cinema of the 1950s: A Celebration. Contributors: Ian MacKillop - Editor, Neil Sinyard - Editor. Publisher: Manchester University Press. Place of publication: Manchester, England. Publication year: 2003. Page number: Not available.
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