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Olivia de Havilland
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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
Professor Smith describes himself as a lifelong bachelor, and professes his undying love of Aphrodite Kallipygos, a statue in the collection of the Cambridge University Museum of Antiquities, where Professor Smith is professor of Anthropology. Smith professes to have discovered the statue on the Isle of Lesbos, a real Greek island, also legendary in Lesbian culture. This may have been an opaque reference, by the writers, to the perception or reality of the foppish Smith being gay, which was a taboo subject, and never could have been mentioned directly in a movie made in 1941. 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 »
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 »
Leslie Howard plays absent minded professor in updated version of the scarlet pimpernel spiriting away enemies of Nazi Germany.Set almost at the outbreak of world war II the film is clearly anti Nazi propaganda with classic quips such as "that is to stop the oppressed Swiss from escaping into free Germany".The Germans are typically portrayed as bungling half wits afraid of their masters with the exception of Francis Sullivan's character Graum who is portrayed as a parody of Herman Goering. I love this film despite its limitations and deficiencies it reminds me of a happier bygone England, it is full of humour,a hint of romance and plenty of adventure. Great.
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