Yes, Charles Dickens was born exactly 200 years ago today – on February 7, 1812, in Portsea. In his lifetime, he wrote a number of short stories and non-fictional works, besides about a dozen major novels. He was recognised as one of Britain’s greatest writers within his lifetime – and cinema took to his stories like a duck to water. Have a look at his filmography, and you’ll see what I mean. Dozens of adaptations, feature films, short films and TV series, have been made of Dickens’s work.
So, as a tribute to Charles Dickens, here’s one of them: a story of love and hate set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. A Tale of Two Cities.
The French Revolution’s been the setting for a handful of films, but I’ve got to admit I don’t much care for everything that’s been produced. For instance, A Tale of Two Cities—despite starring Dirk Bogarde—has too sad an end to invite repeated watching. The Scarlet Pimpernel, though definitely more entertaining, stars Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon, neither of whom tops my favourites list.
Scaramouche, with an oh-so-ooohh Stewart Granger in the title role, some absolutely unbeatable swordplay, lots of wit (plus two beautiful heroines), therefore wins hands down. You may not learn much about the French Revolution, but entertainment’s guaranteed.