The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
Starring Leslie Howard as Sir Percy Blakeney and Merle Oberon as Lady Blakeney
Directed by Harold Young
Based on Baroness Emmuska Orczy's novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, this one is an adventurous romance set during the French Revolution. It showcases the Frenchies--M. Chauvelin in particular--seeking the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel.
They seek him here, they seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere...
Is he in heaven, or is he in hell...
That demmed elusive Pimpernel
Knowing that he can't do it alone--and that his own life is at stake--Chauvelin seeks to use Marguerite Blakeney (nee St. Just) as a spy. Her brother, Armand, has been found out--that is his ties to the Scarlet Pimpernel have been uncovered. A letter has fallen into Chauvelin's hands. If Marguerite wants to save her brother from the guillotine, then she must help him discover the identity of The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Lady Blakeney is a reluctant spy especially as portrayed in this movie adaptation. She's a tender woman, an emotional one as well. The developing romance between husband-and-wife is wonderful to see. How this 'estranged' couple comes to believe in one another once again and their romance is rekindled.
My absolute favorite scene is where Lady Blakeney confesses to her husband about her betrayal. It's giddy-making watching Sir Percy accuse his wife of being in love with The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Is it faithful to the book? No. Not exactly. I think it's true enough to the book's spirit. But does it follow it point by point by point...of course not.
I thought this movie had a slow start and a rushed ending. But overall, I liked it.