movie film review | chris tookey

Scarlet Pimpernel

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  Scarlet Pimpernel Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Leslie Howard , Merle Oberon , Raymond Massey
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Directed by: Harold Young
Written by: Robert E. Sherwood, Sam Berman, Arthur Wimperis, Lajos Biro from Baroness Orczy's novel

Released: 1934
Origin: GB
Length: 98

In the French Revolution, an upper-class Englishman (Leslie Howard, pictured) keeps his head while all about him are losing theirs.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The film itself had a troubled history, with the original director (Rowland Brown) fired on the first day of shooting. Producer Alexander Korda himself took over the direction for a time, but - like the movie - everything ended happily.

It's a first-rate historical adventure, very lavishly mounted for a British production of its period, and superbly acted. The always slightly effete Leslie Howard is perfectly cast; Raymond Massey makes a hissable villain; and Merle Oberon is gorgeous. The picture is so enjoyable that one can almost overlook its snobbish assumption that aristocrats are noble, while the rest of us need to be kept firmly in our place.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger remade it with David Niven as The Elusive Pimpernel (1950), but it isn't in the same class.

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