The Scarlet Pimpernel
Time Out saysThough it meant changing directors mid-stream (he initially took over himself when Rowland Brown was fired), Korda determinedly eschewed blood-and-thunder and structured the film around the dual personality of the Pimpernel. The low-key action scenes seem indeed to function as an alibi, assuring us that the outrageously effeminate Howard is a man's man really, cool and resourceful enough to defeat even the machinations of sneeringly sinister Chauvelin (Massey zestfully playing the villain). With an eye to the American market, Korda subtly caricatures the reactionary sentiments of Orczy's novel (America too had its revolution!); and with Oberon's opaque beauty making her an ideally iconic counterfoil to Howard's fey Pimpernel, the film seems to operate more as a meditation on heroism and romantic love than as a celebration of aristocratic ideals.