The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Richard Moore

Click to buy The Scarlet Pimpernel

Sink me! If this isn't one of the best versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel ever put out then I am rotten aristocrat and deserve to be guillotined - face upwards!

Made in 1982 it was one of the most expensive and lavish TV movies made in Britain and has a wonderfully vibrant cast in Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour (be still my beating heart) and Ian McKellen.

If you don't know the tale of The Scarlet Pimpernel then you should be horsewhipped! Failing that - here's a little precis.

Some interfering English aristocrat (Anthony Andrews) is playing fast and loose with the French Revolution's insatiable desire to chop heads off its ruling class.

The cunning swine is rescuing so many would-be victims the nasty Max Robespierre sends out Chauvelin (McKellen), his most loyal secret policeman, to trap and kill the Pimpernel.

Things get interesting when both men are in love with the same gel, Margueritte St Just, a gorgeous actress in the shape of Ms Seymour and all of society are gobsmacked when she falls for the super dandy Sir Percy Blakeney, little knowing that he is the Pimpernel.

But the horrid Chauvelin has revenge on his mind and while he has no idea of Blakeney's secret identity, he wants to poison him against his love by framing her for the execution of an entire family.

His plan works and though just-married, Sir Percy is distraught his bride could have been so heartless and shuns her.

Next Chauvelin travels to England to catch the Pimpernel in his own lair and things just keep getting more exciting from there.

Andrews is without peer as the dandy Sir Percy, although he lacks the dark side that Richard Grant has brought to the character in his TV series.

Seymour is stunning as Margueritte and it would be worth crossing swords with any chap for her attentions.

McKellen is vindictively jealous and cunning and is quite the opponent for Andrews.

This made-for-TV movie has fade-outs (for stations to put ads in) but the video quality is tolerable. The action, story, costumes and production values make up for these slight annoyances.

They seek him here,
They seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?
Or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel!



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