24 user 2 critic

'Pimpernel' Smith (1941)

Professor Horatio Smith, while seeming very unassuming, rescues victims of Nazi persecution during World War II.



(screenplay) (as Anatole De Grunwald), (original story) | 3 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Spitfire (1942)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Aircraft designer/patriot R. J. Mitchell, alarmed at growing German militarism, works to perfect a defense against the German Messerschmidt at the cost of his health.

Director: Leslie Howard
Stars: Leslie Howard, David Niven, Rosamund John
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A noblewoman discovers her husband is The Scarlet Pimpernel, a vigilante who rescues aristocrats from the blade of the guillotine.

Director: Harold Young
Stars: Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, Raymond Massey
Lulu Belle (1948)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Lulu Belle is singing in a cheap dive in Natchez, Mississippi in the early 1900's when she meets rising young attorney George Davis. He gives up his fiancée and career to marry Lulu Bell. ... See full summary »

Director: Leslie Fenton
Stars: Dorothy Lamour, George Montgomery, Albert Dekker
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When Nazi anti-aircraft fire damages a British bomber, its crew bails out and seeks help from the Dutch underground.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams
49th Parallel (1941)
Drama | War | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A WW2 U-boat crew is stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral USA.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Richard George
The Way Ahead (1944)
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A group of conscripts are called up into the infantry during WWII. At first they appear a hopeless bunch but their sergeant and Lieutenant have faith in them and mould them into a good team... See full summary »

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: David Niven, Stanley Holloway, James Donald
Pygmalion (1938)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Shaw's play in which a Victorian dialect expert bets that he can teach a lower-class girl to speak proper English and thus be taken for a lady.

Directors: Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard
Stars: Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller, Wilfrid Lawson
I Accuse (1938)
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After serving in the trenches of World War I, Jean Diaz recoils with such horror that he renounces love and personal pleasure to immerse himself in scientific research, seeking a machine to... See full summary »

Director: Abel Gance
Stars: Victor Francen, Line Noro, Marie Lou
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Biopic of RAF Group Captain Douglas Bader who, after having lost both legs, flew a British fighter plane during WW2.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kenneth More, Muriel Pavlow, Lyndon Brook
Pinky (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A light-skinned African American woman falls in love with a white doctor, though he is unaware of her true race.

Directors: Elia Kazan, John Ford
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The World War II story of the British Navy's effort to defeat Nazi Germany's most powerful warship.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kenneth More, Dana Wynter, Carl Möhner
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Rick Leland makes no secret of the fact he has no loyalty to his home country after he is court-martialed, kicked out of the Army, and boards a Japanese ship for the Orient in late 1941. ... See full summary »

Directors: John Huston, Vincent Sherman
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet


Cast overview, first billed only:
Allan Jeayes ...
Peter Gawthorne ...
Ernest Butcher ...
Ben Williams ...
Professor Horatio Smith
Arthur Hambling ...
Joan Kemp-Welch ...
Hugh McDermott ...
David Maxwell (as Hugh Macdermott in opening credits)
Manning Whiley ...
Bertie Gregson
Philip Friend ...
Basil Appleby ...
Jock MacIntyre
Laurence Kitchin ...
Clarence Elstead (as Lawrence Kitchen)
Mary Brown ...
Girl Student
Aubrey Mallalieu ...


It is mid-1939 and both Germany and England are preparing for an inevitable conflict. Professor Horatio Smith, an effete academic, asks his students to come with him to the continent to engage in an archaeological dig. When his students discover that the professor is the man responsible for smuggling a number of enemies of the Nazi state out of Germany, they enthusiastically join him in his fight. But things are complicated when one of his students brings a mysterious woman into their circle, a woman who is secretly working for the Gestapo. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The elusive "Mister V" he's everywhere! See more »


Adventure | Comedy | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »





Release Date:

28 July 1941 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Mister V  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System) (at D & P Studios Denham · · · England)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Winston Churchill showed this movie to officers and other guests on board the battleship Prince of Wales in August 1941 as the ship sped across the North Atlantic en route to Churchill's historic meeting with Franklin Roosevelt in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, culminating in the Atlantic Charter. See more »


Although Professor Smith's first name is Horatio, in several scenes he is called Horace, by his brother, and others. Horace would be correct for someone called Horatio, that most famous one called Nelson, was as a child called Horace, this is well documented. See more »


Professor Horatio Smith: A dead man. Would you like to see him? There we are. Buried with all his weapons, you see, presumably, in the belief that there might be a rearmament program in the hereafter, eh, Mr. Spencer? An ancient Teuton. "Alas poor Yorick, get thee to my lady's chamber, my dear general. Tell her that, though she paint an inch thick, to this favour must she come; make her laugh at that." The Earl of Oxford wrote that, you know.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: The tale we are about to unfold to you is a fantasy. None of its characters are living persons, but it is based on the exploits of a number of courageous men who were and are still risking their lives daily to aid those unfortunate people of many nationalities who are being persecuted and exterminated by the Nazis. To these champions of freedom this story is dedicated. See more »


Version of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) See more »


There's A Tavern in the Town
Whistled by Leslie Howard in several scenes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Quiet academic hero, World War II version of Scarlet Pimpernel
11 April 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Leslie Howard starred during his younger years in the original 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the story of an Englishman named Sir Percival Blakeney, who rescues aristocrats during the French Revolution. However, I actually preferred this World War II version, Pimpernel Smith, to both the original Scarlet Pimpernel and its 1982 remake, starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.

This movie, set in pre war 1939, tells the story of the unassuming British Professor Horatio Smith, who takes a group of his students on an archaeological dig in Nazi Germany. These students, much to their amazement, discover that this dig is merely a front for their professor's true purpose, which is to rescue intellectuals, artists, & other enemies of the Third Reich and arrange for their safe passage out of Germany.

Howard is perfect as the absent minded, socially inept, and rather eccentric professor. Also, while in Germany, the group encounters a beautiful woman, Ludmilla, who is being forced to act as a Gestapo agent, hoping to obtain the release of her father whom the Nazis are holding as prisoner. This enhances Professor Smith's character development and adds romance & some tender moments to the tale. Hitherto the only woman in the professor's life has been a statue of Aphrodite in his college campus back in England!

The Nazis in this movie are portrayed essentially as idiots, totally lacking any sense of humour. Professor Smith, on the other hand, is constantly witty. The very purpose of his archaeological dig, to determine whether or not an Ayran civilization actually existed in Germany, of course totally mocks the entire Master Race nonsense of the Third Reich, though the Nazis here are far too dumb to perceive the ridicule. In fact, the apparently bumbling (but actually very clever) Smith is able to snatch his intellectuals right out from under these Nazis' noses! By the way, you'll always think of this movie whenever you chance to hear the tune 'Tavern in the Town'.

The movie has less swashbuckling derring do than The Scarlet Pimpernel, but does boast an engrossing and suspenseful plot, a cat & mouse game with some tense moments. However, the film's main asset, in my opinion, is its message that quiet, unassuming people can make unlikely heroes, not just the obvious tough guy superheroes, and can accomplish great if unheralded deeds. Also, people may sometimes be other than what they appear!

It's always interesting to watch these old war movies. The original British audience back in 1941 would have been in the darkest wartime months and of course not have realized the eventual outcome of World War II. This hopeful & uplifting tale must have cheered them up. I was also interested to note that Howard himself was killed when his plane was shot down by Germans, during a flight returning home from what may have been a spy mission to Lisbon.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Scarlet Pimpernel or Pimpernel Smith? roghache
Ronald Howard? ladynarana
Discuss 'Pimpernel' Smith (1941) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: