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Film: The Scarlet Pimpernel 1982

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a 1982 TV movie based on the Scarlet Pimpernel novels by Baroness Orczy, particularly the first, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and the fourth, Eldorado. It stars Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy, Jane Seymour as Marguerite, and Ian McKellen as Chauvelin.


This movie provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: In this version Marguerite was entirely innocent of the deaths of the Marquis and his family, framed for the crime by Chauvelin, and describes the idea that she would help send him to the guillotine as "deplorable". In the original story, she did indeed denounce the Marquis (with an understandable motive), but she didn't realize it would lead to the deaths of him and his family.
  • Adaptational Villainy: As above; Chauvelin writing Marguarite's name on the arrest warrant, something he did not do in the original.
  • Agent Peacock: Sir Percy.
  • The Atoner: Marguerite
  • Batman Gambit: The Scarlet Pimpernel is fond of these.
  • Blue Blood
  • Burn Baby Burn: One of the Pimpernel's associates tries to burn his instructions to prevent Marguerite reading them, and Baron de Batz twice attempts to dispose of compromising documents in fireplaces, with varying degrees of success.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Armand, following a nightmare that he and Marguerite will become victims of the Revolution.
  • Clark Kenting
  • Color Character Title
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Sir Percy
  • Dating Catwoman: Sir Percy, leader of the aristocrats' proverbial Secret Service, marries a French republican. He distances himself from his wife when he is told of her (unwitting, but he's not told that) contribution to the execution of the Marquis de St. Cyr.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sir Percy
  • Dressing as the Enemy: A ruse often used by the Pimpernel and his associates.
  • Flynning: During the duel between Chauvelin and the Pimpernel.
  • The French Revolution
  • Heel Realization: Marguerite's brother starts out as Chauvelin's assistant before having one of these and letting the Scarlet Pimpernel recruit him as an inside agent.
  • Hero Secret Service: The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Historical Domain Characters: Robespierre; the Prince of Wales; the Dauphin...
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Marguerite with the Marquis de St. Cyr.
  • I Have Your Wife: The French have Marguerite's brother.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Demonstrated by the Scarlet Pimpernel in the climactic duel.
  • It's Personal: Chauvelin
  • Lady of Adventure: Marguerite
  • Master of Disguise: The Pimpernel himself.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Marguerite
  • Near Villain Victory: Followed by the Pimpernel revealing that he's been in control of the situation for quite some time, and was merely letting things progress in order to be polite.
    "My dear chap! I never would have dreamt of depriving you of your moment of triumph. Alas, a moment was all I could spare."
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Produce Pelting: The crowd around the guillotine throw vegetables at the aristos.
  • Promoted to Love Interest/Green-Eyed Monster: In this version, Chauvelin was courting Marguerite before she met Sir Percy. There are subsequently occasions when his actions, although they can be justified as service to the Revolution, seem more strongly motivated by a desire to make Marguerite suffer for choosing that idiot Blakeney over him.
  • Pseudo Crisis: It seems many times that the Pimpernel or the people he's rescuing are on the verge of capture, but many of these "crises" were actually built into his rescue plans.
  • Redemption Quest: For Marguerite.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Most of the plans that aren't Batman Gambits.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job
  • Running Gag: Sir Percy mocking Chauvelin's dress sense. Which turns out to have a plot-relevant punchline.
  • Sadistic Choice: Chauvelin gives one to Marguerite — your brother or your husband.
  • Secret Keeper: The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel all know his Secret Identity.
  • Sexless Marriage: Marguerite and her husband.
  • Signature Item Clue: Marguerite, after initially complying with Chauvelin's demands, interferes by warning the Scarlet Pimpernel of danger in the library. Chauvelin discovers this when he finds her earring there.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Used in one of the Pimpernel's aristocrat rescues to delay discovery of the escape.
  • Spiteful Spit: A prisoner, about to be guillotined, spits in the face of Chauvelin's assistant (Chauvelin himself being elsewhere at the time).
  • Swashbuckler: Particularly at the climax.
  • Sword Cane: Sir Percy has one.
  • Two Aliases, One Character
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: A dramatic sequence revolves around Chauvelin knowing that the Pimpernel will be in a particular place at midnight. In the book, it's a less troperiffic one o'clock.

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