This film version based on the famed Baroness Orczy character almost robs the story of its romance, color and thrills. It is brash, noisy and dull. It does little credit to British film production.
This film version based on the famed Baroness Orczy character almost robs the story of its romance, color and thrills. It is brash, noisy and dull. It does little credit to British film production.Film takes nearly two hours of screentime to relate, and there is undue padding. Dialog is unusually flat and the flashes of wit expected form the suave Pimpernel are all too rare. The film shows David Niven, the ‘Elusive Pimpernel,’ disguised as an old hag, going through the army cordon with a carriage load of French nobility he has saved from the guillotine. It then goes on to relate his other exploits with members of his league including the rescue of his wife’s brother while his wife is forced to reveal the secret movements of the Scarlet Pimpernel. There are moments of refreshing beauty in some of the Technicolor shots. Many of the others appear unnecessarily loud and vivid. Niven is smooth, smiling and suave, but all his efforts to lift the picture on to a higher plane are unavailing. Margaret Leighton, as his French-born wife, also falls victim to this uphill fight. Cyril Cusack makes the French Ambassador the most obvious of heavies and Jack Hawkins, as the Prince of Wales, indulges in a boisterous romp. A substantial number of retakes were ordered on the film earlier in the year. Obviously, they have not proved adequate.
The Elusive Pimpernel
London. Director Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger; Producer Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger; Screenplay Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger; Camera Christopher Challis; Editor Reginald Mills; Music Brian Easdale; Art Director Hein Heckroth
(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1950. Running time: 109 MIN.
David Niven Margaret Leighton Jack Hawkins Cyril Cusack Robert Coote Arlette Marchal