The Scarlet Pimpernel
Publisher: The Copyright Group Ltd.
Date: May 2017
Duration: 2 hours 22 minutes
From its opening amid the horrors of the French Revolution, to its unexpected ending on the shores of the English Channel, The Scarlet Pimpernel fizzes with excitement and wit. Dominating the action is the apparently limp-wristed fop, Sir Percy Blakeney, the most unlikely, though the most gentlemanly of heroes. With a happy countenance Sir Percy outwits all the machinations of Chauvelin, the zealous Revolutionary official, to help nobles escape. He is first hindered, then helped, in his plans by his beautiful but naive French wife Marguerite. 1. Escape from Terror - At the West Gate. In Paris during the Revolutionary Terror, aristocrats are hauled to their deaths on the guillotine. Although many try to escape, they are caught at the city gates. Recently, however, many nobles have fled thanks to an unknown Englishman called the Scarlet Pimpernel. One afternoon, a hideous old woman arrives at the West Gate and repels even its guardian Sergeant Bibot, for she says that her grandson has the plague, and he quickly waves her through. Shortly after, a captain arrives and reveals that the hag was the Pimpernel in disguise, hiding the Comtesse de Tournay and her children. 2. The Fisherman's Rest - Fraught reunions - Unwelcome encounter. Safe in England at The Fisherman's Rest, the Comtesse de Tournay questions Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Anthony Dewhurst about the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. As Marguerite St Just arrives, the Comtesse damns her for betraying an aristocrat. Sir Percy Blakeney, Marguerite's foppish husband, follows but his wife is only concerned with her brother Armand, who is shortly to return to France. Later, Marguerite ponders her marriage to Sir Percy who, so in love with her when they wed, has turned cool since she confessed to unwittingly betraying the Marquis de St Cyr. Her thoughts are interrupted by Chauvelin, an old acquaintance and Republican official. He forces her to help unmask the Pimpernel by threatening her brother's life. Chauvelin tells her that the Pimpernel will be at Lord Grenville's ball. 3. At the Ball - A cunning ruse - In the supper-room. Marguerite suspects that Sir Andrew may be the Pimpernel, and when he receives a suspicious note, she approaches him and pretends to faint. She snatches the paper and reads it, discovering that the Pimpernel is going to France the next day and will be in the supper-room at one-o'clock for any last-minute plans. She informs Chauvelin of her findings and he lies in wait. He pretends to fall asleep, but the only person he sees is Sir Percy, similarly slumbering. 4. The Pimpernel Unmasked - The revealing ring. After the ball, Marguerite breaks down, almost melting Sir Percy's cool exterior as she begs him to help Armand. The next morning, she discovers that he has left on his yacht. She enters her husband's study and her suspicions are aroused by his methodical tidiness. Sir Percy is not the fool he seems, but a determined man. She is further amazed to find a signet-ring bearing the mark of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Suzanne de Tournay, the Comtesse's daughter and Marguerite's friend, arrives and tells her that the Pimpernel has left to save her father. Marguerite is now sure of Sir Percy's secret. 5. Into France - Frantic departure. Marguerite's fears are reconfirmed by Chauvelin, who returns Armand's compromising letter, which he promised to deliver when on the Pimpernel's trail. Appalled, Marguerite realizes that she has betrayed her husband. Quickly, she goes to Sir Andrew's house and begs for his help. He agrees to escort her to France to warn Sir Percy. They cross from Dover and he leads her to an inn, the Chat Gris, where Sir Percy is due. Marguerite hides upstairs while Sir Andrew scouts around. 6. An Elusive Pimpernel - Dangerous snuff. As she waits, Chauvelin arrives in disguise and orders a meal. He sends his underling Desgas to fetch the soldiers to trap the Pimpernel. Horrified, Marguerite hears Sir Percy approaching, singing 'God Save the King'. He enters, and recognizing his adversary, greets him heartily. Chauvelin waits for his troops to arrive as Percy secretly fills his snuffbox with pepper and offers some to the unsuspecting agent. As the Frenchman sneezes explosively Percy flees. The soldiers arrive too late, but Desgas discovers a Jew named Rosenbaum, who offers to guide them to Pere Blanchard's hut, the Pimpernel's meeting place. The soldiers set off, followed by Marguerite. 7. Père Blanchard's Hut - A shriek in time - Chauvelin thwarted. Marguerite shadows Chauvelin, but stumbles in the darkness and is captured. The soldiers then surround the hut and wait for Percy to join his accomplices waiting inside. Chauvelin warns Marguerite not to scream and she remains silent until she again hears Percy singing. Suddenly, she shrieks and wrecks Chauvelin's plans. He quickly orders his men inside the hut but it is too late. The guards admit that they have let the suspects leave because their orders were to wait until the Pimpernel arrived before entering. However, Chauvelin finds a note detailing Percy's escape plans near Calais. 8. Happy Returns - A fine disguise. Furious at the soldiers' incompetence, Chauvelin orders Rosenbaum to be beaten; he then bids farewell to Marguerite. As she lies weak on the grass, she hears the sound of an English voice ? it is Sir Percy, disguised as Rosenbaum. Marguerite unties him and he explains how he had thrown the note found by Chauvelin in the hut as a decoy. Sir Andrew then arrives and the three set off for the real rendezvous with Percy's yacht. Back home, the Blakeneys are happy together again.