7.2/10
1,263
27 user 6 critic

'Pimpernel' Smith (1941)

Professor Horatio Smith, while seeming very unassuming, rescues victims of Nazi persecution during World War II.

Director:

Leslie Howard

Writers:

Anatole de Grunwald (screenplay) (as Anatole De Grunwald), A.G. Macdonell (original story) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Allan Jeayes Allan Jeayes ... Dr Benckendorf
Peter Gawthorne Peter Gawthorne ... Sidimir Koslowski
Ernest Butcher Ernest Butcher ... Weber
Ben Williams Ben Williams ... Graubitz
Leslie Howard ... Professor Horatio Smith
Arthur Hambling Arthur Hambling ... Jordan
Joan Kemp-Welch Joan Kemp-Welch ... School-Teacher
Hugh McDermott ... David Maxwell (as Hugh MacDermott)
Manning Whiley Manning Whiley ... Bertie Gregson
Philip Friend ... Spencer
Basil Appleby Basil Appleby ... Jock MacIntyre
Laurence Kitchin Laurence Kitchin ... Clarence Elstead (as Lawrence Kitchen)
David Tomlinson ... Steve
Mary Brown Mary Brown ... Betty (Girl Student)
Aubrey Mallalieu Aubrey Mallalieu ... Dean
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Storyline

It is mid-1939 and both Germany and England are preparing for an inevitable conflict. Professor Horatio Smith, an effete academic, asks his students to come with him to the continent to engage in an archaeological dig. When his students discover that the professor is the man responsible for smuggling a number of enemies of the Nazi state out of Germany, they enthusiastically join him in his fight. But things are complicated when one of his students brings a mysterious woman into their circle, a woman who is secretly working for the Gestapo. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The elusive "Mister V" he's everywhere! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

28 July 1941 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Mister V See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

British National Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System) (at D & P Studios Denham · · · England)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Professor Smith suggests several times, in various scenes, that the works of William Shakespeare were actually written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. This concept is known as "The Oxfordian Theory" of Shakespeare authorship, which proposes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford and hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England, wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. Although this attribution has been rejected by nearly all academic Shakespeareans, popular interest in the Oxfordian theory persists, which has found its' way into contemporary culture of the early 21st century, being featured in the 2011 film Anonymous (2011), in which de Vere was played by Rhys Ifans. See more »

Goofs

Although Professor Smith's first name is Horatio, in several scenes he is called Horace, by his brother, and others. Horace would be correct for someone called Horatio, that most famous one called Nelson, was as a child called Horace; this is well documented. See more »

Quotes

David Maxwell: Say, Prof, we've dug up half Germany. What do we do now?
Professor Horatio Smith: Dig up the other... half.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: The tale we are about to unfold to you is a fantasy. None of its characters are living persons. But it is based on the exploits of a number of courageous men who were and are still risking their lives daily to aid those unfortunate people of many nationalities who are being persecuted and exterminated by the Nazis. To these champions of freedom this story is dedicated. See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was cut and retitled 'Mister V' for its first American release in the early 1940s. Some versions censor the response from Hugh McDermott's character "I'd do my damndest..." in response to a question posed by Leslie Howard's character at a table in a café. See more »


Soundtracks

Goodnight, Ladies
(uncredited)
Composed by Edwin P. Christy
See more »

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User Reviews

A great bullet in the powerful gun of British wartime propaganda.
13 July 2004 | by Scaramouche2004See all my reviews

In England we hold a special place in our hearts for the great Leslie Howard. He was a learned man and gave to all his roles on either side of the Atlantic, a suave sophistication that appealed both here and in the states.

But what we loved about him most was his unswerving patriotism. His love of this country, more evident during the war years, was something he lived by and eventually was something he gave his life for and we all herald him a hero in our midst. A truly great Englishman and one we can all be proud of. To us he was the sort of Englishman we all wanted to be and to Americans he was the Englishmen on whom all others would be judged from that day forward.

In Pimpernel Smith he all but reprises his roll as The Scarlett Pimpernel from the 1934 film of the same name. This time the action takes place in 1939 and our modern day Sir Percy is an architect on an expedition in Germany where our hero has the chance to rescue innocent political prisoners incarcerated by the Nazis.

There is very little gun play or physical violence at all, but we get plenty of entertainment by the casual and almost comedic performance by Howard as the foppish Smith, who whilst convincing the Germans he is a scatter brained professor, constantly out-smarts and out-wits them as he steals the 'enemies of the Reich' from under their very noses.

Ultra patriotic and echoing Howard's own anti-Nazi views, Pimpernel Smith is an espionage great with a powerful message to deliver.

I love the speech he makes at the end about how the Germans will never find a horizon and as how one day they will be lost and they will be doomed. Also the line, "I'll be back, we'll all be back" gives an almost spine chilling prediction of D-day. Three years before D-day and four years before the final victory, it is amazing just how accurate Howard's words were, words made more powerful with our knowledge that Howard himself would not live to see either event.

One of the best British propaganda films of the war years ,it has enough elements here to have your British hearts souring with pride re: the Rupert Brooke quote and enough to keep you on the edge of whatever you may be sitting on at the time.

Look out also for a young David 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' Tomlinson as one of Smith's students.


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