Smith: May a dead man say a few words to you for your enlightenment? You will never rule the world, because you are doomed. All of you who have demoralized and corrupted a nation are doomed. Tonight you will take the first step along a dark road from which there is no turning back. You will have to go on and on, from one madness to another, leaving behind you a wilderness of misery and hatred. And still you will have to go on, because you will find no horizon, and see no dawn, until at last you are lost and destroyed. You are doomed, captain of murderers. And one day, sooner or later, you will remember my words...
In 1939 the Nazis continue their program of internment and extermination of those who don't conform to their ideals. The days are dark, but rescue is at hand, in the unlikely form of a rather eccentric archaeology professor, Horatio Smith, and his band of loyal students.
Pimpernel Smith is a British 1941 anti-Nazi thriller, produced and directed by its star Leslie Howard, which updates his role in the 1934 film The Scarlet Pimpernel from Revolutionary France to pre-World War II Europe. The British Film Yearbook for 1945 described his work as "one of the most valuable facets of British propaganda". The film is also notable for helping to inspire Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg to mount his real-life rescue operation in Budapest that saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi concentration camps between July 9 1944 and January 17 1945.
This film provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Prof. Horatio Smith.
- Adventure Archaeologist: Prof. Horatio Smith.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Prof. Smith uses this to waltz right through the numerous security checkpoints and administrative offices of the Nazi propaganda headquarters.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Shakespeare was German. Only kidding; he was actually the Earl of Oxford.
- Blackmail: 'The nice kind of blackmail.'
- Chaste Hero
- Cultured Badass: Prof. Smith is a dreamy intellectual who doesn't mind to get down to business.
- Cut Himself Shaving: Averted. Prof. Smith doesn't bother trying to explain the arm injury that reveals him to his students, saying only, "I wouldn't pay too much attention to newspaper reports, gentlemen."
- Deadpan Snarker: Professor Smith, at times.Prof. Smith: Gentleman, this is the German-Swiss frontier. The barbed wire is to prevent the oppressed Swiss from escaping into free Germany.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: The Prof smokes one.
- Dressing as the Enemy
- Eagleland: Maxwell, an obvious embodiment of American stereotypes.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: Wagner and Marx.
- Guile Hero: Smith lives by his wits.
- La Résistance
- Left the Background Music On: In one scene, the increasingly obnoxious orchestral interpretation of "There is a Tavern in the Town" turns out to be coming from a group of German musical experts off-screen trying to research the song's relationship with the spate of recent escapes.
- Leitmotif: Smith likes to whistle a tune called 'There is a Tavern in the Town'.
- Man in a Kilt: Jock MacIntyre
- Master of Disguise
- Nerd Glasses: Clarence, who gets no respect and suffers a bit of good natured ribbing from his friends about his stutter.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: All the actors playing German and Nazi soldiers sound as if they have just walked off the cast for Oliver Twist.
- Red Herring: Those boxes that the students were guarding on the train? Turns out there was nothing of interest to Those Wacky Nazis there. Not even an ancient Aryan civilization.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When General Von Graum sneers that he might as well not waste his words on a "doomed man", Professor Smith coolly retorts with a few words for his enlightenment, which offer a searing indictment of Nazi Germany.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Prof. Smith has a talent for this. It's frequently mentioned and/or demonstrated, and it's also how Smith escapes across the border at the end of the film.
- Stealth Insult: The Prof. loves these.
- Those Wacky Nazis
- The Wonka: Prof. Horatio Smith
- Villainous Glutton: von Graum has a penchant for chocolates.