The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

A lot of films made in the 1930s were very adventurous. Audiences enjoyed swash-buckling stories like Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and anything that starred Errol Flynn. Sometimes some of the greatest films of a particular era were adaptations of novels filled with excitement. The 1934 version of Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel was much more than a film set in the French Revolution because it captures the chaos and confusion of one of the most turbulent times in European history.

A Toast

This film features the diversity of Leslie Howard’s acting range. He does well as the main character within an adaptation of a famous literary classic. He might act like a know-it-all and a “wise guy,” but he actually plays that role really well while remaining faithful to the source material. Another great feature is the editing, because practically every minute of this film was shot meaningfully without dragging the film down. It is hard to believe that so much could happen in just 97 minutes! Because of its well-paced nature, this film really is enjoyable from beginning to end.


Writers and filmmakers have been fascinated with French history, which includes the French Revolution. Another famous example is Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) might not have received acknowledgement from the Academy, but it is still a great adventure into the world of French history and literature.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever the characters use guillotines

Take a Drink: every time Leslie Howard acts like a “wise guy”

Drink a Shot: whenever the characters recite the famous “Scarlet Pimpernel” poem

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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