The Scarlet Pimpernel – A wonderful classic movie of the 1930s!!!
May 8, 2013 in Classic 30s Movies
The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my all time favorite novels. I read this novel when I was in my college and I lost the book when I moved between cities, stages of life. Recently, I got to see the 1934 film version of the novel and was pleased to see that the movie captured the essence of the novel so well that I was happy to add this to my collection of treasured movies.
Now on to my thoughts on the movie:
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a 1934 British adventure film directed by Harold Young and starring Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, and Raymond Massey and is based on the classic adventure novel The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. The film was produced by Alexander Korda.
In 1792, at the bloody height of the French Revolution, French aristocrats are saved from death by the audacious “Band of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a secret society of 20 English noblemen, “one to command, and nineteen to obey”. The Scarlet Pimpernel is Sir Percy Blakeney, a wealthy English baronet and friend of the Prince of Wales. Sir Percy cultivates the image of a fop in order to throw off suspicion. His pose is so successful that not even his French wife Marguerite suspects the truth. Though the two are in love, Sir Percy no longer trusts his wife because of her past denunciation of the Marquis de St. Cyr, which led to the execution of the marquis and his family
Leslie Howard plays Sir Percy Blakeney. Casting Leslie Howard in the dual title role was a simple stroke of genius. His tall figure and bony beak of a face serve perfectly both as the languorous and lazy Sir Percy, and as the commanding, quick-thinking Pimpernel. He is absolutely convincing as the “spineless, brainless and useless” fop, and yet he can bring the intelligence and feeling back into his features in a second and thus he never lets his audience forget who the character really is!!!
This classic movie of 1935 has many pluses. The cast with Leslie Howard as Sir Percy Blakeney, Merle Oberon as Lady Marguerite Blakeney, Raymond Massey as Chauvelin, and Nigel Bruce as Prince of Wales do full justice to the roles they don. The script adapted from the novel of the same name strives to do justice to the source.
From the very beginning, it is apparent that we are in for a treat. The reasons; Engrossing script, Excellent cast, and Spectacular photography.
The story is strong in spirit and intrigue. It is a story of hidden identity, of unsung heroism, illusion, danger, risk and reward and good men saving doomed people. It is also a moving love story – we understand the love Sir Percy has for his wife when he remarks to her on her idolization of Scarlet Pimpernel “It’s dangerous to fall in love with a phantom, m’dear. For all you know he’s a married man who is deeply in love with his wife.”
They seek him here, they seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in Heaven?—Is he in Hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel
Aren’t the above lines enough to show the ingenuity and the cleverness of Scarlet Pimpernel??
For any of you who are avid book readers/lovers like me, once you see the movie you will agree that Baroness Orczy’s novel has been reproduced on the big screen doing full justice to the story.
For anyone who likes old films this is a winner and for anyone who appreciates the translation of a book into a movie this is a must see movie.