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14 October 2009

The Elusive Pimpernel

I've always listened to music as I write, usually music that relates in some way to the book I'm writing. But lately, I've been watching movies while I write. Yes, I know, it sounds odd. But I find that having a movie playing in the background frees up my mind so I don't obsess so much and can get the words down more freely. Of course this only works if I've thought the scene I'm writing through in advance. And as with music, I watch movies that relate to the book I'm writing, which helps me escape into the world of the book.

Lately, I've found myself watching various versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel a great deal, which is the inspiration for this post. Like Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Pimpernel has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, and like Pride and Prejudice I first encountered the story when my parents took me to a revival of a movie version–in this case, the Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon movie from the thirties. From the movie I went to the Baroness Orczy’s book and then to subsequent film adaptations (when the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version first aired, I had a rehearsal and we didn’t have a VCR yet, so my mother tape-recorded it for me; I knew the dialogue to that version long before I finally got to see it). In college I was entranced to find copies of the later books in the Pimpernel series in the stacks of the Stanford Library (the Andrews/Seymour version is partly based on one of the sequels, Eldorado).

I saw the Broadway musical in New York when I was starting to write the book that is now Secrets of a Lady. It wasn’t until then that I quite realized how much The Scarlet Pimpernel had influenced me in devising my own story. Because what has always fascinated me about The Scarlet Pimpernel is its examination of a marriage that begins with deception, of the toll that deception takes, of the fear that one doesn’t know the truth about the person one loves most in the world, of the risk of trusting. (Nancy, my agent, talks eloquently about the power of the scene–which isn’t in any of the film adaptations I’ve seen–in which Percy, having maintained his impassive façade in front of Marguerite, kisses the steps where she’s walked after she’s left). Charles and Mélanie are very different people from Percy and Marguerite. The book's take on the French Revolution has a decidedly aristocratic slant, which hardly mirrors my own thoughts on that complex era (or those of Charles and Mélanie). But my fascination with The Scarlet Pimpernel’s portrait of a marriage definitely influenced me in creating Charles and Mel's story. Not to mention the appeal of intrigue and adventure and heroes who outwit their enemies through their own cleverness. The Pimpernel connection was what first drew me to Lauren's wonderful Pink Carnation books. I love the scene, cut from The Secret History of Pink Carnation but available on her website, in which Richard talks to Percy.

In the Baroness Orczy’s books and in the the 1934 Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon/Raymond Massey film, there is no suggestion of romantic involvement between Marguerite St. Just Blakeney (the French Republican actress turned aristocratic English wife) and Paul Chauvelin (an agent of the Committee of Public Safety). In the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen and Richard E. Grant/Elizabeth McGovern/Martin Shaw adaptations and in the Broadway musical, Marguerite and Chauvelin are former lovers. When I blogged about The Scarlet Pimpernel on my own website, I commented that I thought this added an interesting layer to the story. Sarah countered that “The triangle is a useful dramatic device, but the books present two more layered and interesting characters.” Which made me think about what adding an additional romantic element does to this story and to stories in general.

I’ll confess that the romantic in me tends to enjoy the addition of romantic complications. But romance can easily become motivational shorthand–”she did it because she loves him”, “he wants revenge because he can’t forgive her for leaving him”, etc… I don’t think this is quite the case in adaptations of The Scarlet Pimpernel that include the romantic triangle. In both film versions and in the musical, I had the sense that Marguerite had revolutionary principles apart from her love for Chauvelin and that her feelings for both Chauvelin and the Revolution changed as the Revolution took a darker turn. I had the sense that Chauvelin had loved Marguerite but that he was a zealous and ambitious revolutionary whose first loyalty was to what he saw as the aim of the Revolution. I never thought that jealousy over losing Marguerite was his primary motivation (though it does tinge his actions, which creates nice ambiguity; and in the Grant/McGovern/Shaw version, I love the way Percy knows he can play on Chauvelin’s feelings for Marguerite).

I also found myself thinking about the romantic triangle that figures prominently in Secrets of a Lady. At one point Mélanie says, “don’t you dare shrug off what I did as romantic infatuation. Call me whatever names you like, but at least credit me with the wit to make decisions for myself. Do you think I’d have run the risks I’ve run and blackened my soul simply for the love of a man?” Mélanie recognizes the risk of reducing complex motivations to “all for love”. And yet in the case of Secrets of a Lady, I think the romantic triangle enriches the story, perhaps in part because much of the time Mélanie, Charles, and Raoul are all acting against their romantic inclinations.

Is The Scarlet Pimpernel a favorite of yours? Did you find the book first or a film version? Do you prefer the story with the triangle or without? Can you think of other adaptations of books that have added a romantic element? Did it add to or detract from the story?

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Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

I love this post, Tracy! THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL is one of my favorite, and most inspirational, books as well. And I can certainly see how Baroness Orczy's novel inspired your writing.

By the way, did you know that she originally wrote the story as a play? It traveled the British countryside but was never a big hit. Someone suggested to her that the story would work better as a novel. So she switched genres and her novel debuted as the stage version was opening in London ... possibly the first tie-in ever!

I adapted the novel for the stage (I can send you a copy of the existing script -- which is still a draft -- as an email file, if you're interested in reading it). Although it's been years since I've looked at it, I seem to recall including the scene where Percy kisses the step, because I had the same heart-stopping reaction you did, Tracy, when I read the novel. I also incorporate many of the original scenes from the novel, which involve Marguerite hitting the road in search of her husband, and some institutionalized anti-Semitism, which is also in the novel (in the mouths of villains, not our hero and heroine).

I love the original film with Leslie Howard(actually there are sequels, set during WWII where the Pimpernel is fighting the Nazis and yet he is not 150 years old!), and I adore the version with Antony Andrews; in fact I own them and view them with some regularity. The costumes in the Andrews version are scrumptious as well.

And Lauren's wonderful Pink Carnation series keeps the PIMPERNEL spirit alive for me.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Mary Blayney said...

The Scarlet Pimpernel is definitely one of my favorites. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post about it. Can't wait to hear what Lauren has to add to this discussion

I read the book first as a teen and have never read any of the others in the series. And, yes, it's what drew me to Lauren's SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION.

I think nothing can equal the Merle Oberon, Leslie Howard film version and while Howard does not kiss the steps there is a point where Percy's eyes follow Marguerite as she leaves the room (goes up the stairs?) All Percy's love and longing is there.

I think there is an element of jealousy in Massey's Chauvelin -- he know she is beyond his reach in so many ways. If he can't have her he wants to end her happiness in any way he can.

The later adaptations reflect as much about the way times have changed and, yes, I think they do improve the story. I have seen the musical version -- the revamped version -- about five times. It really is one of my favorite versions (Do you recall that they closed it an revamped it after some months -- I bet Leslie know more about this -- in that revamp they took out one of my favorite songs It's Only Love).

I actually called the production manager to suggest a different kind of advertising since what they were using failed to inform anyone who had never heard of the story. It went on tour nationally so I guess it did alright. Again, Leslie might now know more about this

As for inspiration. Charlotte Parnell is the nom de guerre of the heroine in my TRAITORS KISS. And the story features a woman who is a master of disguise. Hmmm -- my own story but with a tip of the hat to the Scarlett Pimpernel.

I wrote another "escape from the revolution," a novella for Kensington called "Child of Her Heart" and buried in my files is a scene where a man advises the heroine on how best to escape. I wrote it just for fun since that kind of detail would not fit in one hundred pages. But the man who advised her was definitely the SP.

Yes, The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my inspirations. Count how many times I used "favorite!" Thanks for chance to talk about it!

5:27 AM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

I too adore THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL! I found it first as a book, which I had to steal from my grandmother and mother. (I'd already figured out they had great taste in books. LOL) Seeing the Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon movie only confirmed my love for the series.

The heartstopping moment came for me, too, when Percy kisses the step.

I paid homage in BOND OF FIRE, my historical novel cum paranormal romance, whose conflict arises from the French Revolution, specifically the Vendee. Or should I call it a genoicide, because it was that, too? It took me a very, very long time to understand how anybody could justify those bloodthirsty decrees and methods of waging war (which make the SS look civilized) as necessary to protecting their own hearth and home. And yet they did.

To remind myself of a more gallant world, I named the British spymaster for the secondary hero in THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.

BTW, Baroness Orczy is considered to have known more than she could say about how the British actually spied against the French during that time period. There's far too much tradecraft and genuine names of letter drops, go-betweens and so-forth.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Mary, I have to confess that I'm not a fan of the musical (it went through so many incarnations here in NYC because it kept flopping) and what bothered me the most about the production (I think the only song I remember is called "Into the Fire" -- does that ring a bell??) was that the character of the Pimpernel and his friends were all gay chorus boy types who were poncing around with butterfly nets while trying to learn how to be macho, which was utterly ludicrous to me. In fact, the opposite is the case; a bunch of fairly rugged guys need to practice being utterly fascinated by how to tie a cravat or order a pair of boots.

Sink me!

Baroness Orczy and her family came from Hungary originally -- I think. Correct me if I'm wrong. She came to England not knowing a word of English and her family took up residence in Wimpole Street (Ahhh... "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" -- there's another of my inspirations). The English were so good to her family (and she married a painter who also took her under his wing) that she wanted to find a way to eventually say thank you, and the very patriotic SCARLET PIMPERNEL was how she did it.

Diane, I would LOVE to find out what the Baroness knew when it came to spycraft!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Tracy, I just re-read your last question. I tend to be something of a purist when it comes to adaptations from a book to film or stage, but the exception that comes to mind is the film version of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS that added a romantic element and took an incredibly dull novel and turned it into an intelligent sizzler of a movie! Daniel Day Lewis running through the woods? That scene where he comes up behind her in the candlelit room and caresses her while he's standing behind her?

9:37 AM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

Leslie, I too adore the movie version of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, after barely tolerating the book and all its sequels. (With apologies to my grandfather and ancestors who adored them because so much of those tales apparently reflected the family folklore's reality.)

My favorite line from the movie is where Daniel Day Lewis tells her to "just survive and I'll find you." He knows far better than she does the traumas she's likely to undergo. But he doesn't care what devil's bargain she may have to make, so long as she lives to meet him alive on the other side.

What could be more romantic than that?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

I've never read THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL so this post is huge fun for me. Thanks, Tracy, for bringing such a rich vein to light.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

Tracy, one of the movie adaptations I like as much as the books (hope this counts!) is THE SACKETTS. It's a TV miniseries adaptation of Louis L'Amour's first four Sackett novels.

I am admittedly a huge fan of Louis L'Amour. The opening scene of THE DAYRUNNERS is brilliant and the final scene of SACKETT is romantic poetry, IMHO.

But seeing the family saga pulled together on-screen with a strong cast truly makes it come alive for me.

I keep going back to it for inspiration.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Leslie, I did know it was best on a play--so intriguing that she turned her play into a novel and that they were "cross-marketed"! I would *love* to see the script of your play--so send email it to me!

And yes, Lauren's books definitely keep the Pimpernel spirit alive!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Mary, so cool how TSP influenced "Traitor's Kiss." And I loved to read the cut scene from your novella--you should post it on your website (or have you?).

The Howard/Oberon version is wonderful--I need to see it again, I don't own that version. I think the Andrews/Seymour version is my favorite, because I love the story (I like the way they combined elements of "Eldorado" with the original story). And as Amanda says the costumes are fabulous--it has a wonderful period look. I enjoy the Grant/McGovern series too, though I wish the episodes could have been longer.

I also saw the musical several times--the original version in previews, the revamped version, then the touring production (more than once). I saw the preview with my friend Penny Williamson when I was writing "Secrets" and at the intermission, after the "Riddle" trio, she said, "We'll that's definitely your book." I really enjoyed the musical, obviously, but I do agree with Amanda about the League. It didn't bother me so much that they were dandies who learned to be adventurers--that's a different take, but it could work. But I really missed that more of them weren't defined characters. One of the delights of the Andrews version is the byplay between Percy and and Andrew and Tony.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Typing too fast and not enough coffee yet--in my first reply to Leslie that was supposed to be "based on a play" not "best on a play."

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Valerie L. said...

The early movie that turned me into a huge fan of the French Revolution was A Tale of Two Cities with Ronald Colman. The Scarlet Pimpernel Howard/Oberon/Massie version sealed the deal for me. I think that as later versions were made, the addition of a love triangle works for more modern sensibilities. But that earlier version will still be No. 1 with me.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Diane, I still need to read "Bond of Fire" and now I want to even more. I referenced the horrors of the Vendée in the backstory for "Beneath a Silent Moon." Very cool that you named your spymaster after a TSP character--Andrew?

Like Leslie, I would *love* to find out what the baroness knew about spycraft. I do know (Lauren posted about it once) that there was a real British spy who was the inspiration for the Scarlet Pimpernel.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Leslie and Diane, totally agree about "Last of the Mohicans"! And the scene under the waterfall where he says goodbye to her is fabulous. Right up there with Percy kissing the steps for heartstopping moments.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Pam, have you scene any of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" film versions? If not, it would be fun to get your take if you do watch them. This story is so ingrained in my consciousness since childhood it's hard to imagine coming to it fresh.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I'm having way too much fun with the conversation and not proofing carefully enough. That should have been "seen any of the..."

Diane, I confess I haven't read Louis L'Amour or seen the mini-series "The Sacketts." It sounds great. When a favorite book/books come/s alive for one on screen it's wonderful.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Valerie, I love the Ronald Colman "Tale of Two Cities", too!

Do you think that the love triangle works for modern sensibilities because it personalizes the conflict? Or adds more sex by giving Marguerite a past? (In the book it's pretty clear she hasn't had lovers before Percy, despite being an actress in an era when most actresses were considered loose women). I think it's intriguing how that changes has carried over into all (I think) the recent adaptations of the story, though those three versions (Andrews/Seymour, Grant/McGovern, and the musical) differ considerably in their telling of the rest of the story.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

I didn't like the Richard E. Grant/Elizabeth McGovern version at all. For starters, I didn't believe for a millisecond that they were Percy and Marguerite. Regardless of whatever Grant's sexuality may be, he came across as fey and gay, a man who had no clue how to take a woman in his arms. Besides, he's physically unattractive. That's not my idea of the Pimpernel. And McGovern was so homely and dullwitted that never for a heartbeat do you believe the lines about Marguerite being the most beautiful and wittiest woman in Paris. McGovern just looked and sounded dumb!

10:50 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Mileage varies :-). I think Howard/Oberon and Andrews/Seymour are closer to the Percy & Marguerite of the books, but I do like that Grant & McGovern seem like grown-ups. And I think Martin Shaw made an interesting Chauvelin. Then there were those odd three additional stories they filmed, with Marguerite dying in childbirth in the first (offscreen). I to run downstairs and look at the sequels and reassure myself that she stays alive and well in the books.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

[must look up exact quote about Baroness Orczy and British spycraft...]

11:24 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I'm loving this great discussion, and I'm fascinated by how many of us are drawn to "The Scarlet Pimpernel" stories and particularly how many of us found inspiration from them for our own writing. What do you think it is that so resonates about this story? The masks and deceptions? The adventure and daring escapes? The story of two people desperately in love who fear that they don't really know/can't trust the object of their affections? To those of you inspired by the story, which piece of it inspired your own writing?

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Mary Blayney said...

Tracy for me it's Percy -- a true hero who wants no credit and, in fact, presents himself as a fop. A true leader of men.

Leslie, I knew you would have something to say about the way the musical handled the Regency gentlemen -- yes it was a failing but one I was willing to overlook because I enjoyed everything else about it so much -- especially that Riddle trio at the end of the first act.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Mary, I so agree, Percy is a wonderful hero. There's something so compassionate and intriguing about a hero whose goal is saving people rather than "winning." And also the fact that he fights primarily with his wits. And then you're so right, there's something very selfless in the fact that he takes no credit and lets the world mock him. In fact, one has the sense that he quite enjoys playing a game with the world. Also, that he has been playing so many parts for so long that he finds it difficult to be himself--or perhaps even to know what it is to be himself. Which creates yet another layer of tension for him and Marguerite. Does the heroine of "Traitor's Kiss" (which I have yet to read, though I am currently very much enjoying "Stranger's Kiss") share those qualities?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Yes, I think that the lasting allure is that Percy is a man who fights with his wits as well as his sword; that he is a gentleman through and through and not a neanderthal, that he has a huge amount of integrity and ethics, passion and patriotism, that he is willing to risk all to save just one life, if need be, that Marguerite has her own profession and life before she met Percy, that she is devoted to and looks out for her brother Armand, that although Percy and Marguerite are first drawn to each other sexually and jump into marriage that they have to really earn the relationship by building trust in each other and that neither realizes how much they have until they have nearly lost it.

I could go on ... :)

P.S. for anyone interested in the winner of the Booker Prize, WOLF HALL, and is into Tudor history, I posted my review of the book on www.royalaffairs.blogspot.com

I now apologize for that commercial.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

That sums up so much so well, Leslie! I love adventure and intrigue, but I think for me a lot of the fascination is that this is a story about a married couple, who both have past experiences, not young lovers. I remember as a child seeing the Howard/Oberon movie--Suzanne appears in the movie before Marguerite, and I was surprised and intrigued that the heroine wasn't the sweet ingenue but the glamorous, mysterious married woman.

I didn't consciously think about it at the time, but I think my very first inspiration for "Secrets of a Lady"/"Daughter of the Game" was when I saw the Andrews/Seymour adaptation (when i it was finally rebroadcast). During the wedding scene, when Percy first suspects Marguerite can't be trusted, I thought "it would be really interesting if she *really* was working against him..."

2:17 PM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Yes, Tracy, Charlotte/Lynette insists to Gabriel -- when he finally tracks her down -- that she has no idea who she really is -- so how can he. Of course, he does know the true woman despite the masquerades and the crazy risks she has taken to save the children whose lives she ruined.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

That's intensely romantic, Mary! I think the whole masks, playing a role, not-sure-who-one-really-is element is definitely part of the Pimpernel's allure, and why it's so appropriate Marguerite is an actress herself. It's a heightened version of how we never can truly, completely know what's going on in another person's head, even those closest to us.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Lois said...

I love The SP -- but I came to it from first seeing the movie first (Howard/Oberon version). I saw it was going to be on Turner Classic Movies at some point in the past, and I wanted a general idea on what it was about before I tried the book. . . and I just loved the movie. Got the book, and was surprised on how all things being equal, not all *that* far off from the book. I still haven't made it to other versions yet, though I am curious. One day. :)


5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Tracy.

I'm another that came in through a film adaptation, though I did so with reluctance -- I'd heard of the book, but couldn't get out of my tiny prairie village (pop. 500) to obtain a copy. My two best friends (children of an English teacher) tied me to their couch and made me watch the Andrews/Seymour version.

Being a romantic teenager, when I finally got a copy of the book, I was actually disappointed with the lack of a triangle, and that Chauvelin was so old, he was (gasp!) "nearer forty than thirty" -- never mind that I'm now creeping up on that age.

I'm in the middle of rereading The Scarlet Pimpernel and I'm looking on Chauvelin's seniority to Percy and Marguerite in a different light. He's striking me as something of a past mentor figure to Marguerite.

In the Andrews/Seymour version, Armand works as Chauvelin's assistant, and in the scene where C discovers the note M rescued from the fire, McKellen plays the character with touches of the instructor. I've recently run away with this interpretation.

Although it's never expressly stated, Chauvelin is the prime candidate for the person who actually denounced the Saint-Cyrs. I'm starting to really like the idea that it was a mentor who stepped in when a protégée made the regrettable error of not acting decisively enough.

Not that this would exclude a romantic element in their relationship. In fact, I think the layers would only add interest to each other. Which brings be back to your post and the many layers between Raoul, Mélanie and Charles. It's not the romantic relationships that make those characters so dear to me. It's, as you say, the other layers that make them work against their feelings. Raoul is not only Mélanie's ex-lover, but her ex-spymaster. Not only Charles' rival, but also his father.


6:19 PM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

Leslie and Tracy - Elizabeth Sparrow comments in SECRET SERVICE: BRITISH AGENTS IN FRANCE 1792-1815 that "the man was a composite character...If there was little fiction in the Baroness's books, there was certainly none in the discussion by George III's Privy Council of the use of secret tokens both in France and as a talisman for illegal immigration and covert embarkation from British ports. I read in Paris that examples of those tokens had been forwarded to London; and they still remain there, in the Public Record Office. The hand-painted device, three little red flowers with tiny green leaves on a trailing stem, is recognizably pimpernel, even if, as contemporary correspondence suggests, it was originally intended to be a rose." [Public Record Office PC 1/42/A140]

Anyone else happily convinced that the Baroness named her Scarlet Pimpernel after this secret token?

6:27 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

WOW. Diane, that's wonderful. I'm so glad you found that reference!

8:35 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for posting, Lois! Like you I started with the Howard/Oberon film. I do recommend checking out the other adaptations, particularly the Andrews/Seymour one. It's also exquisitely done and they have more time to tell the story and complicate the plot by weaving in elements from "Eldorado" a later novel in the series (involving the rescue of the dauphin and also a romantic subplot for Armand). And as Leslie said, it has a gorgeous production look with a lot of location shooting and beautiful costumes.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

That's a great point about the age difference and Chauvelin being a mentor, Cate (though I'm definitely at an age where "nearer forty than thirty" sounds positively youthful :-)). I think in all the versions with the triangle I've seen Chauvelin as having been something of a mentor to Marguerite, in that he is older and you sense that at some point she looked up to him as someone who embodied her revolutionary ideals (of course, I may be reading into that from Mélanie and Raoul or maybe that's what gave me the idea for Mel and Raoul--difficult to know at this point).

In the Andrews/Seymour version you definitely get the sense that Chauvelin is a mentor to Armand as well. One of the touches I love in the party scene right before Margot finds the note is that you can tell Louise sees through Chauvelin in a way that Margot and Armand don't at that point in the story.

As you say, the mentor role doesn't preclude the triangle and in a way makes it more interesting. I love relationships with layers. I have a lot still to explore with Charles, Mélanie, and Raoul, and in some ways I think the romantic triangle is the least of it. Raoul has an importance in Mel's life quite apart from being an ex-lover and she's never going to completely be able to say goodbye to him, the way one might to an ex-lover. And he has an importance to Charles that Charles has barely begun to grapple with. In a way, he was a mentor to both of them--certainly to Mel and also to Charles when Charles was young. Thankfully Raoul is still also older than I am, at least for the moment :-).

12:03 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

So cool, Diane, thanks for posting that! It certainly makes sense that the baroness could have known about that and named her hero accordingly.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Eigon said...

Up at the top of the thread, Leslie Carroll mentions sequels to the Leslie Howard Scarlet Pimpernel film, including one set in World War Two.
This would be Pimpernel Smith, also starring Leslie Howard, and one of my favourite wartime films. It's not actually a straight sequel - Professor Smith is an archaeologist who takes a party of students on a dig in Germany just before the Second World War, as a cover for smuggling talented people out of the country. So he's absent-minded professor by day, and elusive Pimpernel by night!
I suspect that, without this film, we might not have had Indiana Jones.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for commenting, Eigon. I've heard of Pimpernel Smith, but I've never seen it. Your comments make me even more eager to track it down! Interesting thinking of it as a forerunner of Indiana Jones.

11:05 AM  

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