Sink me, is it time for The Scarlet Pimpernel again?

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is a romping good story, and was the first novel to feature a fop who is a hero in disguise. That makes Sir Percival Blakeney the forerunner of Zorro, Spiderman, Batman, and a host of others. The movie versions are satisfying romantic thrillers, in the 1934 Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon version and the 1982 Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version.

From the first version of the Broadway musical.

From the first version of the Broadway musical.

The short-lived Broadway musical is long gone, alas; my review of it is here. Fortunately, I can still enjoy the original Broadway cast recording, with wonderful music and witty, inspiring lyrics. (“Into the Fire” is my marching song when I need a dose of courage.) I also keep handy on a playlist several favorite songs from the 1991 concept CD (with Linda Eder as Marguerite) that didn’t make it to Broadway.

What I’ll look for next time: I saw the Andrews/Seymour movie first, and it’s remained my favorite; but I’ll watch the Howard/Oberon version again one of these days, to see how it’s different.

What I’ll avoid: any of Orczy’s sequels to the original Scarlet Pimpernel. The two or three I tried had weaker plots and whinier characters. (Yo, Marguerite: you loved him for being the Pimpernel, so why keep insisting he give up the job?) Also to avoid: the A&E version of the Scarlet Pimpernel, which I stopped watching midway through.

About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, From Portraits to Puddles, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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