Cast & Crew
In 1794 France, Robespierre's reign of terror is feared throughout Europe. Sir Percy Blakeney, considered a mere fop in England, is known throughout France by his secret identity, the Scarlet Pimpernel, the leader of a group of Englishmen sworn to aid the innocent victims of Robespierre's regime. His nemesis, the Minister of Police Andre Chauvelin is warned by Robespierre that unless he captures the Pimpernel, he will find his own head in the guillotine. Back in England, Percy's French wife Marguerite tells him that she is pregnant, so Percy agrees to remain in England for one year, allowing his men to continue the Pimpernel's work in his place. Chauvelin blackmails Spanish actress Theresia Cabarrus into going to England, where she attends a party held by the Prince of Wales at the Royal Pavilion. She tells all that she seeks help for her lover, the revolutionary leader Jean Tallien, as he is the only man in France willing to oppose the tyrant Robespierre. Theresia then tricks Marguerite into taking a trip to Rottingdean, despite her husband's warnings. Marguerite is kidnapped by Chauvelin's men, and taken back to France. Chauvelin knows that Percy will come to his wife's rescue, but he does not recognize the Pimpernel through his masterful disguise. Theresia is sent to Marguerite's trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal, in the hope that the actress will recognize the Englishman. At her trial, Marguerite proclaims that her husband, a mere Englishman, is incapable of the Pimpernel's actions, while she, a French woman, is more than capable and willing to save innocent French citizens from the guillotine. Theresia is so touched by Marguerite's self-sacrifice that she does not point out Percy to Chauvelin, even though he is seated near her disguised as a prison cart driver. Percy arranges to have Marguerite placed in his cart, and he drives her out of Paris, to the Black Cat tavern in Barbizon, where, unknown to them, a French-laid trap awaits them. Chauvelin arrives with his men, and Percy agrees to surrender his pistol peacefully to Chauvelin if his wife is allowed to go free. Chauvelin agrees, but after Marguerite is safely away, Percy overturns a lamp, and he escapes with his men in the darkness. Percy soon learns that Marguerite has been recaptured, so he holds a meeting of his men to plot out his final plan. At their meeting, Robespierre's most trusted man, De Calmet, his secretary, arrives, and is greeted with suspicion by the Englishmen. Percy, however, vouches for the Frenchman's reliance. De Calmet tells Percy that Marguerite is being held at the central prison, and her execution is planned for the next day. Percy then plans not only his wife's escape, but the overthrow of Robespierre's government. He goes to Tallien and tells him that his name heads a list of twenty men Robespierre plans to purge at the convention. With the help of Theresia, Percy convinces Tallien that he must lead the revolt against Robespierre. At the convention the next day, as Robespierre begins to denounce some of his colleagues, including Tallien, Percy arrives, disguised as a Republican officer, and gives Tallien a note from Theresia, telling him that the actress has been arrested. Tallien then leaps to his feet, and denounces Robespierre himself as a tyrant and coward. Tallien's impassioned speech turns the Convention against Robespierre. Percy then goes to the central prison with forged papers ordering Marguerite's release. Before they can leave, however, a guard takes the papers to Chauvelin, who immediately recognizes the ruse, and captures Percy and Marguerite. Upon his arrest, Percy embarrasses his captors by suggesting that all of them, including Chauvelin, dislike Robespierre. As Percy is about to be led to the guillotine in his wife's place, the crowds gather at the prison doors, calling for the release of all prisoners, since Robespierre has been overthrown. Percy then proclaims himself to be the Scarlet Pimpernel, and the crowds rally to his side. When Chauvelin is attacked by the thongs, Percy comes to his old enemy's defense and claims Chauvelin as his prisoner. With the aid of his confederates, Percy, Marguerite and Chauvelin make their way to England. When Chauvelin asks what form of revenge Percy has planned for him, Marguerite states that they plan to teach him how to play cricket.
O. B. Clarence
A. W. Watkins
The film's credits note that actor James Mason appeared in this film through an arrangement with Fox British Pictures, Ltd. This film was the sequel to the London Films production The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon. According to New York Times, this was the first full length feature film televised in the United States. It was first broadcast from Radio City by NBC on May 31, 1938, with a signal strength which covered a forty mile radius over New York City. Writer-producer Adrian Brunel stated in his autobiography that the writers for this film attempted to parallel the actions of Robespierre and details of the French Revolution with those Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Modern sources include Assistant Editor John Guthrie in the production; and include Torin Thatcher in the cast. Modern sources also state that the film was released in Great Britain at a running length of 94 minutes.