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The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1937)

Approved  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  10 April 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 151 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

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.


(as Hans Schwartz)


(novel), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barry K. Barnes ...
Sophie Stewart ...
Margaretta Scott ...
Francis Lister ...
Anthony Bushell ...
Patrick Barr ...
David Tree ...
John Counsell ...
Henry Oscar ...
Hugh Miller ...
De Calmet, Robespierre's Secretary
Allan Jeayes ...
Judge of the Tribunal
O.B. Clarence ...
De Marre
George Merritt ...
Chief of Police
Evelyn Roberts ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Volta do Pimpinella Escarlate  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some of the footage and some of the sets from The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) are re-used in this film. 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.
See more »


Follows The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) See more »


La Marseillaise
Music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Played during the escape from prison
See more »

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User Reviews

The Pimpernel Triumphs again
9 April 2006 | by (Yorkshire, England) – See all my reviews

The only element this film lacks is 'star quality', other than that, it's a very worthy sequel to the 1934 'Scarlet Pimpernel'. The story is based upon Orczy's 'The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel', with elements of 'Elusive' (Marguerite's arrest and Percy's escape) and even 'Sir Percy Hits Back' (Chauvelin's fate) added to make the action flow better on film. Barry K. Barnes, despite not being as fair or famous as Howard, makes for a passable fop (sounding like Leslie 'Ding Dong!' Phillips with a speech impediment: "Stap me, Senorita, don't dwag me into it!"), a revered leader of the League, and a truly devoted and romantic husband. In fact, this film is probably more in the spirit of Orczy's books than any other, with the characters portrayed nearly exactly as you would find them written; there is a great deal of heart and natural charm in the sequel, which I always find lacking in the Howard/Oberon version. Barnes does not have the commanding screen presence of his predecessor, and as such is sometimes lost amongst the sea of League faces, but he is far more believable as the 'husband in love with his own wife' and as a friend to nineteen brave men. Sophie Stewart is similarly indistinctive as Marguerite, but I think she brings more to the role than Oberon: at once 'the sweetest woman in France', naive and easily lead into danger, and a brave and noble wife, willing to sacrifice her own life for that of her husband's, when she needs to be strong. Diminutive and bright-eyed, Stewart is endearing as a rather more innocent Lady Blakeney. Francis Lister plays a diplomatic and reserved Chauvelin, who fears for his own life as the Terror reaches its peak and Robespierre hunts out 'the men at his elbow', traitors amongst his own supporters. The discredited agent parries words with the dictator, and enlists Theresia Cabarrus, lover of Tallien (a young James Mason, given a rousing speech at the end of a minor role), in a final bid to destroy the Pimpernel. Margaretta Scott is formidable and intelligent as the Spanish double agent who is introduced to Sir Percy and Marguerite as an actress seeking the protection of the English court. Marguerite is of course immediately taken in, Sir Percy is naturally more wary of her motives.

There is some recycled footage (as well as the odd recycled actor), but ultimately this film stands alone from its more well-known and oft-shown stablemate. The neat dialogue flows better, without the heavy-handed patriotism injected into the original story (strange, with World War Two looming even closer); fiction is supported by historical details from the eighteenth century (the popularity of cricket, dancing the cotillion, songs such as 'Aupres De Ma Blonde' and the rousing toast 'Here's a Health unto His Majesty'), which is surely a novelty for such an early film; there is more League action (and three members are actually given names from the book!), as well as more scenes of friendship between Sir Percy and his band of men; plus some excellent disguises (the deaf colonel had me in stitches: "Grilled trout?", "Yes, all right, I'll have half a bottle"). All in all, there is no reason not to watch this compact, entertaining little film, especially now that it's available on DVD, and I consider it a definite must for all fans of the Pimpernel.

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