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.
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.