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The Fighting Pimpernel

The Fighting Pimpernel(1954)

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The film's opening and closing cast credits vary in order. The opening credit reading "A Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger Production" appears over an image of an arrow hitting a bullseye, which was the logo for their company, The Archers. The opening credit for Powell and Pressburger reads: "Written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger." The onscreen credit for Baroness Emmuska Orczy, who wrote the novel on which the film was based, reads: "From a romance by Baroness Orczy." The film begins with a written foreword stating that although the French revolutionaries terrorized their country, a mysterious Englishman called The Scarlet Pimpernel became a ray of hope for the condemned. The closing credits include the following written statement: "Scenes for the film were made in Touraine in the Chteaux of the Loire, on the Mont St. Michel, at Dover, in the Royal City of Bath, in Savernake Forest and on the Marlborough Downs. The producers most gratefully thank the corporation of the City of Bath in England and in France the Ministre de L'Education Nationale. Also many private owners of chteaux and houses for their generous help." According to the onscreen credits, the film was also photographed in England at the National Studios in Elstree and at the London Film Studio in Shepperton. Although according to an onscreen copyright statement, the picture was registered to London Film Productions, Ltd. in 1951, the film is not included in the Copyright Catalog.
       As noted in the Variety review, the film was co-funded by Samuel Goldwyn and British producer Alexander Korda. It was shot in England and released in London in November 1950 under the title The Elusive Pimpernel. Numerous modern sources, including director Michael Powell's autobiography, assert the following: Neither Powell nor David Niven wanted to be involved in the film, but both agreed under threat of a contract suspension. Although Powell planned to shoot the film as a musical, he was not allowed to do so, nor was he allowed to choose the lead actress he preferred. After he delivered the finished picture to Goldwyn, the financier denounced the project and refused to make the final payment, even after Powell made numerous additions and revisions based on Goldwyn's notes. Korda sued Goldwyn, but the disposition of that suit has not been determined. On July 21, 1953, Hollywood Reporter announced that Caroll Pictures had acquired North American distribution rights to the Technicolor film, which that company released in black-and-white in 1954. The viewed print was in color.
       Other film adaptations of Orczy's story include the 1935 Korda film The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was directed by Harold Young and starred Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey. Korda also made a sequel to that version in 1938 entitled The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel, directed by Hans Schwartz and starring Barry Barnes, Sophie Stewart and James Mason (for both, see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). In addition, a 1917 Fox film, The Scarlet Pimpernel, was based on the Orczy novel. It was directed by Richard Stanton and starred Dustin Farnum and Winifred Kingston (see AFI Catalog of Feature FIlms, 1911-20). In 1998, the A&E and BBC networks co-produced a three-part television film entitled The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Richard E. Grant and Elizabeth McGovern. Patrick Lau directed the first two parts, which aired in 1998 and 1999, and Edward Bennett directed the third, which aired in 2000.