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This review is from: Pimpernel Smith (1941) (VHS Tape)
This was an unashamed, patriotic flag-waver for the war effort and as such, it succeeded magnificently. As well as starring in the film, Leslie Howard produced and directed it, too. The story is an updated account of a Scarlet Pimpernel character, who rescues 28 scientists, statesmen and musicians from the clutches of the Nazis. This is Professor Horatio Smith, who’d have us believe he’s a bumbling, absent-minded and rather misogynistic Cambridge Don, dreamily in love with a Greek statue; of course, not a bit of it because the next moment, he’s in Nazi-ruled Germany with a group of his students, spiriting even more oppressed academics out of the repressed regime.
It’s a good, clever story. True, there’s some rather creaky sets, and Hugh McDermott (a Scot with an extremely contrived and unconvincing American accent) is really irritating. But that matters little; Francis Sullivan is good as the chocolate-guzzling, over the top General von Graum and the rest of the Nazis are all portrayed, as you’d imagine, as a bunch of dim-wits. Mary Morris very nicely plays Ludmilla Koslowski, who replaces the professor’s odd infatuation with the statue and there’s a very charming performance of a salesgirl, played by the extremely attractive Suzanne Claire, real name Charlotte Cunningham who unfortunately appears to have had a very short-lived film career.
But it’s Leslie Howard’s film, all the way through. His quotation from Rupert Brooks is marvellous and right at the end of the film, when he gives his, "You are doomed, Captain of Murderers" speech, it's enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.