The Scarlet Pimpernel! (1939)

In the year 1792, Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite Blakeney are the darlings of British society—he is known as one of the wealthiest men in England and a dimwit;she is French, a stunning former actress, and “the cleverest woman in Europe”—and they find themselves at the center of a deadly political intrigue. The Reign of Terror controls France, and every day aristocratsin Paris fall victim to Madame la Guillotine. Only one man can rescue them—the Scarlet Pimpernel—a master of disguises who leaves a calling card bearing only a signature red flower. As the fascinating connection between the Blakeneys and this mysterious hero is revealed, they are forced to choose between love and loyalty in order to avoid the French agent Chauvelin, who relentlessly hunts the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Ah, I love the 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel staring Leslie Howard, who I absolutely adore and Merle Oberon, who I am beginning to love in period pieces.  Leslie Howard has just the right amount of flamboyance, not enough to look queer, nor for people to take him seriously and suspect him as the scarlet pimpernel.  Lady Blakeney can get a tad annoying in both the book and the movie, but at the same time must be pardoned for her ignorance in the whole matter.  Merle Oberon does a wonderful execution of her, being a little stuck-up and innocent about her husband's "going-ons" to caring and intelligent.  Of course you could not have found a better Chavelin than Raymond Massey, who plays the conniving aristocrat to a tee.


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