Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

IMDb plot summary: Leslie Howard plays Sir Percy Blakeney, an 18th century English aristocrat who leads a double life. He appears to be merely the effete aristocrat, but in reality is part of an underground effort to free French nobles from Robespierre's Reign of Terror.
Directed by Harold Young. Starring Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, and Raymond Massey.

Ever since I read the book, I have been strangely drawn to the Scarlet Pimpernel story. Whether it's the love story (oh gosh, that story just HOOKS me with the unrequited love angle and that delicious "he's loved me all the time" reveal) or the adventurous, almost swashbuckling actions of the Pimpernel, I find myself truly enjoy every incarnation of it. Leslie Howard here is perfect at playing both the Pimpernel and Sir Percy, jumping easily back and forth between being a competent, resourceful leader and a ridiculous prettyboy. I also really like Merle Oberon as Marguerite in this version - she is clearly conflicted and sad, but she makes smart, strong choices that flesh her out as a real person, far from the swooning dainty woman I expected her to be. In short, this is an excellent movie adaptation, and well worth the watch. 4 stars.

Flickchart: #478 out of 1960, below New York Stories and above You Can't Take It With You.

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