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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

France 1792 and the Reign Of Terror is in full swing at the height of the French Revolution. A British aristocrat (Leslie Howard) plays the fop to throw suspicion off him when he is, in fact, the Scarlet Pimpernel: a master of disguise who helps condemned French aristocrats escape the guillotine right under the nose of the new French power. Based on the novel by Baroness Orczy which has been filmed several times for both film and television as well as adapted for the stage. Directed by Harold Young, this is probably the best known (and liked) version. I suppose technically this would fall under the category of swashbuckler but there's very little "swash", no sword fights and little derring-do. Still, it's quite enjoyable and while Leslie Howard isn't one's idea of an action hero, as an actor, he brings a bit more depth to his two sided character than is usual in such films. Merle Oberon as his wife is gorgeous and that's enough and Raymond Massey makes for a deliciously unctuous villain. With Nigel Bruce, Walter Rilla, Melville Cooper and Joan Gardner.  

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