I watched Pimpernel Smith the other night with my siblings. I think I smiled the whole way through… except for the times when I laughed and other times when I screamed, “PERCY! Oh, I mean, HORATIO!!”
Pimpernel Smith stars Leslie Howard (Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1932), Ashley Wilkes, Gone With the Wind) and a lot of other actors I didn’t recognize but enjoyed nonetheless. It’s pretty much the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel set in Nazi Germany. Instead of innocent arisos, a mysterious man saves innocents destined for concentration camps. Epic, right?!
I was a little nervous about Pimpernel Smith at first. I mean, it’s set in Nazi Germany! I didn’t know if it would be okay for my younger siblings to watch, but we all agreed to start it and if anything came up, we’d turn it off and watch it with my dad. Also, I wasn’t sure they’d do Sir Percy justice. If they got my favorite literary hero wrong, I’d probably be more than a little mad. (Not to mention that I’d never watch another Leslie Howard film ever again!!)
Boy, was I wrong!
When the credits first rolled, I noticed that not only had Leslie Howard starred in it, but he also directed and produced it. Then, the first scene started. The Scarlet Pimpernel character (who they never called anything like that) saved a man, and all you could see were shadows. Soon after, Professor Horatio Smith appears on the screen. He’s a very absent-minded professor, interested only in antiques and his upcoming excavation. The instant he showed up, I knew I liked him. No, it wasn’t Sir Percy, it wasn’t Anthony Andrews, and it wasn’t even Leslie Howard as Sir Percy. But I liked him anyway. A lot. Soon, things happened that made me like him a lot more. : )
There is also a romantic aspect of the film, which didn’t really develop until the end and even then didn’t really finish – which worked out in a very cool way. The young woman’s name was Ludmilla. (I only knew that was her name because I looked in the ending credits… I don’t think they ever say it in the movie…) She’s been appointed by General von Graum to find out the identity of this mysterious man in exchange for the life of her father, who is in a concentration camp. (See the parallel?)
A few of my favorite scenes were ones that involved a train (“You’re the bravest man I’ve ever known!”), a scarecrow (talk about nerve-wracking!), and a ball invitation (“They match!”). However, one of my favorite scenes was in the end. The entire “You are doomed.” scene. We actually skipped back to the opening of the scene and watched it a second time because it was so cool! So very like Sir Percy! It’s exactly what he would say, too!
“We Germans fear nothing.”
“Ah. Because you have a pistol?”
“Yes, I have a pistol. It has eight bullets. Eight lives.”
“And I have twenty-eight lives…”
I’d better stop before I start quoting the entire thing…
Ooh… one more! Horatio actually said, “Yours, I believe.” I nearly shrieked again!
Just So You Know…
A few slight warnings. There are some not-very-good statues and paintings depicting women that are very scantily dressed. It’s basically just Professor Smith’s Aphrodite statue that he found (both the actual one in the first few minutes when he shows up for the first time, staring at it, then the photograph he shows Ludmilla), and the paintings in General von Graum’s office. I just told my younger brother to close his eyes. Nothing really important happens in those scenes that you have to watch – it’s okay if the guys just listen. Also, my sister said that Horatio smoked too much… but it plays a key part in the last scene. One more thing – there are no scenes about what actually goes on in a concentration camp and only a little blood from when a character gets shot. Nothing really major, except for the statues and paintings.
Pimpernel Smith is a movie that I’d totally recommend to any TSP fan. It’s not too hard to find, either – you can wait a few days to get it in the mail from Netflix (I think it might even be streaming), or you can watch it on YouTube here.
“Don’t worry – I shall be back!”