Directed by: Clive Donner
Written by: William Bast
Novels ("El Dorado" and "The Scarlet Pimpernel") by: Baroness Emmuska Orczy

  • Nominated for three Emmy Awards
  • Winner of an Emmy Award for Oustanding Costume Design
  • Filmed in England at Blenheim Palace (with kind permission of His Grace, the duke of Marlborough) - Ragley Hall - Broughton Castle - Milton Manor

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Audio Clip - "They seek him here, they seek him there..." (217KB)

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Video Clips
Marguerite meets the Scarlet Pimpernel (2.48MB)
Sir Percy proposes (2.03MB)
Marguerite and Percy wed (2.51MB)
Marguerite learns she's married to the Scarlet Pimpernel (1.64MB)
Confessions in jail (2.31MB)
Final ship scene (1.01MB)

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Credited Cast:

Anthony Andrews .... Sir Percival/Percy Blakeney aka ...The Scarlet Pimpernel
Jane Seymour .... Marguerite St. Just
Ian McKellen .... Chauvelin
James Villiers .... Baron de Baats
Eleanor David .... Louise
Malcolm Jamieson .... Armand
Denis Lill .... Count de Tournay
Anne Firbank .... Countess de Tournay
Richard Morant .... Robespierre
Julian Fellowes .... The Prince Regent
Timothy Carlton .... Count de Beaulieu
David Gant .... Fouquet
John Quarmby .... Ponceau
Gordon Gostelow .... Monsier Duval
Carol MacReady .... Madame Duval
Tracey Childs .... Suzanne
Joanna Dickens .... Aunt Lulu
Dominic Jephcott .... Sir Andrew Foulkes
Christopher Villiers .... Lord Anthony Dewhurst
Geoffrey Toone .... Marquis de St Cyr
Sean Mathias .... Dispatcher
Daphne Anderson .... Lady Grenville
Tony Caunter .... Pochard

(complete cast listing)

Plot Summary:

The swashbuckling classic comes to rip-roaring life in this lavish production, filled with breathless romance and derring-do! In the eyes of high society, Sir Percy Blakeney (Brideshead Revisited's Anthony Andrews) is a typical fop, surrounded by adoring ladies and clueless gentry. However, he is also a master of disguise and bears an infamous secret identity: the Scarlet Pimpernel, dashing and fearless rescuer of victims of the French Revolution! Sir Percy also falls head over heels for the beautiful Marguerite (Somewhere in Time's Jane Seymour) who is also wooed by the villainous Paul Chauvelin (The Lord of the Rings' Ian McKellen), Robespierre's Chief Agent for the Committee of National Security. Suave, stylish and utterly irresistible, this dazzling adventure is sure to capture your heart!

Crowds hungry for blood cheer in Paris, in 1792, as the heads of hundreds of aristocrats - men, women and children - fall under the blade of the guillotine. The French Revolution has entered its phase of terror. A mysterious rescuer known only by his alias of "The Scarlet Pimpernel", aided by a series of brilliantly effective disguises, is proving the scourge of the Revolution as he daringly snatches aristocrats from the very jaws of death, under the noses of the executioners.

Sir Percival Blakeney, a foppish English gentleman, an ardent follower of fashion and leader of London society, is paying one of his many social visits to Paris when, with surprising bravery, he rescues a handsome young man, Armand St. Just, from the hands of thugs. This results in his first meeting with Armand's sister, the stunningly beautiful Marguerite St. Just, France's most celebrated actress.

At one of her soirees, Sir Percy meets for the first time Paul Chauvelin. Ambitious and ruthless, he is Roberspierre's Chief Agent for the Committee of National Security. Chauvelin too, loves Marguerite and plans to marry her. He and Percy cross verbal swords with Percy emerging the victor. To Chauvelin's fury, Sir Percy marries Marguerite and takes her back to London where she becomes the toast of society.

Roberspierre authorizes Chauvelin to seek out and destroy the Pimpernel and his Agent leaves for England. Armand, realizing the injustices of the Revolution, has meanwhile learned the identity of his brother-in-law and, although Chauvelin's assistant, secretly joins forces with the Pimpernel. Due to Chauvelin's evil machinations, Percy becomes estranged from his bewildered wife.

Learning Armand is in league with the Pimpernel, Chauvelin blackmails Marguerite into leading him to his enemy. Still not realizing the Pimpernel is her husband, she tries to help him escape. In a deserted fortress off the shores of France, Chauvelin sends Percy to face the firing squad. As he kisses Marguerite farewell, he vows to return.

Commentary from Heléne: Blazing, glistening and splendidly interpreted. It is wonderful to see certain events of a period of France's history approached.