"Thought You'd Seen
The Original Movie About
A Daring Archeology Professor
Battling The Nazis?
Think Again!"

The plot probably has a familiar ring to it: a resourceful Professor of Archeology goes up against the growing might of pre-war Nazi Germany.  In a thrilling adventure, with the fate of many on the line, our hero has a very common last name and is known for his daring bravado.  But this isn't a big-budget production from Lucas and Spielberg – in fact, while it might have influenced the 1981 film you're probably thinking of, this movie came out forty years earlier!
Pimpernel Smith DVD
In 1941, British actor Leslie Howard released a movie he had directed and produced with his own funds, earned from his appearance in the Hollywood blockbuster Gone With The Wind (1939).  Howard had portrayed the honor-bound intellectual Southern gentleman, Ashley Wilkes.  Howard was passionate about the British war effort, and especially wanted to alert a wider audience to the growing threat of Nazi Germany. Howard also wanted to produce a film which updated his famous role as Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) from Revolutionary France to pre-World War II Europe.   The result was an amazing feature film entitled Pimpernel Smith (1941), known by the release title of Mister V in the United States.

Mister V, the US title for Pimpernel SmithHoward played the title role of Professor Horatio Smith, who uses his cover as an absent-minded archeology professor to smuggle intellectuals out of Nazi Germany.  During one daring rescue, Smith is wounded, which results in revealing his secret identity to his admiring students. They enthusiastically join him in his fight, but things are complicated when one of his students brings a mysterious woman into their inner circle. Smith engages in a game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless Gestapo adversary who has been assigned to track him down.

An Inspiring Film...

This movie is even credited with inspiring Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who attended a private screening with his sister Nina in 1942.  "On the way home," his sister recalled, "he told me Raoul Wallenbergthis was the kind of thing he would like to do."   Wallenberg went on to mount a rescue operation in Budapest that, conservatively estimated, saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazi gas chambers. It is hard to imagine that any other film has ever inspired an act of heroism on quite this scale.

Now available for the first time on DVD, Pimpernel Smith serves as a reminder of the power of cinema to change opinion and influence society. A profoundly moving film about the struggle for good in the world, Pimpernel Smith deserves to be seen by today’s audience.  

Indy fans will
not be disappointed!

A Heroic Leading Man

Leslie Howard was one of those rare individuals for whom one's principles were as important as life itself or anything in it. In his life, fame and success were his in good measure, but he consistently chose to work those projects that he felt were worthy rather than those Leslie Howardthat were strictly lucrative. When he was called upon to perform the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind, he was very reticent to accept, and when he did so it was in large part dependant on his being given the money and resources to make Pimpernel Smith as a weapon in the propaganda war against Nazi Germany. This film, as well as Howard's The First Of The Few and the BBC radio broadcasts in which he castigated Nazism and defended democracy and human rights were very effective propaganda weapons for the British.  Howard even caught the notice of Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who is said to have referred to him as "the most dangerous propagandist in the British service."  Sadly, on June 1, 1943 the Nazis hunted him down over neutral airspace in the Bay of Biscayne and shot down Flight 777, the civilian airliner in which they knew he was a passenger.

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