Paris is Burning! Under the Iron Fist of Robespierre hundreds are executed, by the swift and bloodstained guillotine. Through these acts of injustice a new heroism is born - The League of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
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Sir Percy Blakeney(in the guise of the masked Scarlet Pimpernel), an Englishman who with the aid of a band of his friends, is engaged in spiriting FRench aristocrats across the English Channel to escape the guillotine. Robespierre, the ruthless revolutionary, informs the chief of the police he must capture the Scarlet Pimpernel or lose his own head to the blade. Blakeley's wife is abducted and taken to France forcing him to follow in a rescue attempt. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film was included in the first syndicated television presentation of a package of major studio feature films on USA television; it premiered on WPIX, New York City, Sunday 5 September 1948. The package consisted of 24 Alexander Korda productions originally released theatrically between 1933 and 1942. See more »
The name "Brighton" dates from 1810. In 1792 the town was called "Brighthelmstone." See more »
Sir Percy Blakeney:
I can save my wife only if we save France. For I love France, and I love the loveliest of all French women, my wife - more than anything else in the world.
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"The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel" is a sequel to the 1934 movie, "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Most Hollywood sequels are creations by studios to cash in on big hit movies. But not so, this one. It is based on the further writings of author Baroness Emmuska ("Emma") Orczy. The Hungarian-born aristocrat became a highly successful writer of mystery, intrigue and detective stories. She lived most of her adult life in England and wrote in English, which was her third language. Her most famous character is English nobleman, Sir Percy Blakeney. His cunning and organization of the Scarlet Pimpernel underground helped many of the landed gentry in France escape the guillotine under Robespierre.
Orczy wrote more than a dozen novels and stories in the Scarlet Pimpernel Series. Four were made into movies. The original and "The Elusive Pimpernel" were first made as silent films in 1917 and 1919. The first sound film of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" came out in 1934. Its cast of Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey was superb. This film, "The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel," is the second sound film. The third film was "Pimpernel Smith" in 1941, and the fourth was "The Fighting Pimpernel" in 1950. Later British TV programs ran Pimpernel stories, and a couple of TV series aired in 1956 and 1999-2000.
While all of the Pimpernel stories are entertaining, none of the sequels could come close to the original. Perhaps that is in part because the subject was new and very fresh when introduced. But, I think also that it is due to the superb casting for the original story in 1934 and in a 1982 remake movie for TV. The color, lavish sets, excellent scenery and screenplay of the latter film equaled or bettered the first sound production of 1934. And its cast of Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen was equally superb.
Only a few of the first film actors are in this or the other two sequels. This film continues with the action of the original, but it is lacking in other areas. Barry Barnes is fair as Sir Percy, but Sophie Stewart is a very weak Lady Marguerite Blakeney. Francis Lester is far too gentle in the role of Chauvelin. Henry Oscar is too old as Robespierre, although he shows the citizen's paranoia that most likely led to his downfall. The introduction of the real person, Jean Tallien, and the undoing of Robespierre's hold over the revolution add much to earn this film its rating. James Mason is excellent as Tallien.
While this film can't match the original story for intrigue, interest, action and acting, it is an interesting work of historical fiction. That was a favorite style of Baroness Orczy. She excelled at it as seen, especially, in all of her Pimpernel stories. I think most people will find this movie entertaining.
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