‘Pimpernel’ Smith’ is a gripping drama about an effete professor from Cambridge who under cover of an archaeology project to uncover ‘Aryan’ history helps those under threat by the Nazis escape from Germany. It’s fast paced thriller made in 1941 and is one of the first mainstream films to directly address the issue of opponents to the Nazis being sent to concentration camps.
The plot of the film is centred around a trip to Germany in mid 1939 just before war breaks out made by Professor Horatio Smith, played by Leslie Howard, and his group of students. For the majority of the time Professor Smith manages to keep his students in the dark about why he’s really in Germany, but eventually they find out and confront him about the rescues of Nazi opponents.
The students agree to help Professor Smith but things are complicated when one of the students falls for a beautiful German girl, who unbeknown to him, is working for the Gestapo.
I have not seen this film before and it was a delight to discover it. Leslie Howard really portrays well the quiet man whom nobody would suspect of being a hero and despite the aloofness of the character you find yourself warming to Professor Smith and his quest to save brilliant minds from destruction by the Nazis.