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The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 7 February 1935 (USA)
A noblewoman discovers her husband is The Scarlet Pimpernel, a vigilante who rescues aristocrats from the blade of the guillotine.

Director:

Harold Young

Writers:

Baroness Emmuska Orczy (by) (as The Baroness Orczy), Lajos Biró (scenario, continuity & dialogue) (as Lajos Biro) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Howard ... Sir Percy Blakeney
Merle Oberon ... Lady Blakeney
Raymond Massey ... Chauvelin
Nigel Bruce ... The Prince of Wales
Bramwell Fletcher ... The Priest
Anthony Bushell ... Sir Andrew Ffoulkes
Joan Gardner ... Suzanne de Tournay
Walter Rilla ... Armand St. Just
Mabel Terry-Lewis ... Countess de Tournay
O.B. Clarence O.B. Clarence ... Count de Tournay
Ernest Milton Ernest Milton ... Robespierre
Edmund Breon ... Col. Winterbottom
Melville Cooper ... Romney
Gibb McLaughlin ... The Barber
Morland Graham Morland Graham ... Treadle (the tailor) (as Moreland Graham)
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Storyline

London fop Percy Blakeney is also secretly the Scarlet Pimpernel who, in a variety of disguises, makes repeated daring trips to France to save aristocrats from Madame Guillotine. His unknowing wife is also French, and she finds that her brother has been arrested by the Republic to try and get her to find out who "that damned elusive Pimpernel" really is. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Scarlet Pimpernel. Who Was He... What Was His Strange Power?

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

7 February 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die scharlachrote Blume See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

London Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Wide Range Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 12, 1938 with Leslie Howard reprising his film role. Olivia de Havilland performed with him after having just filmed Gone with the Wind (1939) together. See more »

Goofs

The ring in the Blakeney portrait varies between long shot and closeups. See more »

Quotes

Lady Marguerite Blakeney: Can't you rise above trivialities for once?
Percy Blakeney: Can't rise above anything more than three syllables, my dear - never could.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rosemary & Thyme: The Memory of Water (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

God Save the King!
(1744) (uncredited)
Attributed to Henry Carey
Whistled and hummed by Leslie Howard
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stalking The Elusive Pimpernel
7 May 2005 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

Hidden behind the nom de guerre of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, an English lord attempts to snatch a few victims away from Robespierre's insatiable guillotine.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, the French Revolution's greatest enemy, first came to life in a 1903 play by the Baroness Orczy and in her subsequent, and almost unreadable, 1905 novel. He was an immediate favorite with both the British & American public and found his finest translation to screen in this lavish movie from Sir Alexander Korda's London Films.

It's interesting that the film actually became so popular, because there is very little action in it. It begins with an exciting rescue & escape from dangerous Paris, but then it settles in for lengthy dialogues in English parlors and ballrooms. Even the conclusion, with its confrontation between hero and villain, is civilized and bloodless. The bulk of the story is actually a melodrama enacted principally by a trio of characters: an English husband who believes his Parisian wife has betrayed the Gallic nobility he so loves, she frets that he has lost every scintilla of masculinity, and the French serpent in their midst plots to destroy their entire Eden.

The reason the film clicks is because it is so very well written (celebrated American playwright Robert Sherwood worked on the script) and acted. Sensitive Leslie Howard is perfectly cast as courageous Sir Percy Blakeney, who must wear a double disguise, that of the Pimpernel to fool the French, and as a complete aristocratic ass to dupe his wife, Marguerite. She is played by the exotic Merle Oberon; the script allows her to do little more than look frightened or confused, but she does both very nicely. Raymond Massey is properly wicked as the sneering Chauvelin, Revolutionary ambassador and master spy, who desperately desires to capture the Pimpernel.

In the large cast it's often a mite difficult to sort out who's who, but a few fine character actors particularly stand out: Nigel Bruce as a stout & pompous Prince of Wales, Bramwell Fletcher as a French priest aiding the Pimpernel, and Melville Cooper as George Romney, the celebrated portraitist, who has to endure a silly critique from Sir Percy.

The Baroness Emmuska Magdalena Rosalia Marie Josepha Barbara Orczy (1865-1947) was a most prolific author with a list of books almost as lengthy as her name. Those wishing to follow the further clashes between Sir Percy and Chauvelin may do so in the many sequels, now mostly quite obscure, which she penned over the next several decades: I Will Repay (1906), The Elusive Pimpernel (1908), El Dorado (1913), Lord Tony's Wife (1917), The League Of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1919), The Triumph Of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1922), Sir Percy Hits Back (1927), Adventures Of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1929), The Way Of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1933), The Scarlet Pimpernel Looks At The World (1933), Child Of The Revolution (1933), Sir Percy Leads The Band (1936) and Mam'zelle Guillotine (1940).

The scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is a low spreading herb with a 5-peteled blossom that grows as a weed throughout Northern Europe. The flower closes at rain's approach and opens again with returning sunshine, hence giving rise to its being called 'the poor-man's weatherglass' or 'the shepherd's barometer.'


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