Pimpernel Smith

97. PIMPERNEL SMITH (1941-England). Directed and produced by and starring LESLIE HOWARD. MuÂsical direction by MUIR MATHIESON. On the eve Of World War II, the most prominent artists and intellectuals opposed to the brutal Nazi regime are suddenly escaping from Germany aided by a mysterious man who comes out Of the shadows, performs his daring and clever rescues, then vanishes into the night. As the Nazis search everywhere for this bold champion Of freedom, they hardly suspect that he is none other than Horatio Smith, a mild-mannered; absent-minded archaeology prOfessor, who is in Germany ostensibly to dig up relics. Smith and his equally fearless students penetrate a prison camp, free a newspaper editor and his comrades, andÑdespite the fact that the borders and all means Of transportation are very closely watched stage a brilÂliant escape from the country. Filled with as many twists as a “Mission Impossible” adventure, this enjoyable updating Of the Scarlet Pimpernel character features a charming performance and extremely skillful direction by Leslie Howard (who had played the Scarlet Pimpernel in the original 1935 film). Along with the thrills and suspense, the movie gets in some witty satirical observations Of Nazi stupidity and decadence, as well as propagandistic messages designed to lift the spirits Of English audiences at the time, but still quite stirring today. Why does Smith constantly place his life in jeopardy! As he explains, “When a man holds the view that progress and civilization depend in every age upon the hands and brains Of a few exceptional spirits, it’s rather hard to stand by and see them destroyed” 120 minutes. Drama