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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

"Pimpernel" Smith [Blu-ray]


(Leslie Howard, 1941)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: British National Films

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:05.258

Disc Size: 24,468,740,014 bytes

Feature Size: 24,326,909,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.50 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 15th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1791 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1791 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), None



• None





Description: Inspired by Baroness Emmuska Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel, Pimpernel Smith stays true to the source material while allowing director and star Leslie Howard to present a thought-provoking and entertaining dramatic work.

Horatio Smith (Leslie Howard, Gone with the Wind), a Cambridge Professor of Archaeology, persuades several of his students to accompany him to pre-war Germany on a dig. Smith easily wins the support of the Nazis who believe the excavation will unearth the Aryan history of Germany. However, Smith's true objective is to free those held in nearby concentration camps.

The fašade of a meek and mild-mannered professor by day will give way to the daring and heroic Pimpernel by night as Smith and his students, deducing who their teacher really is, set forth on their mission.

Beautifully photographed in black & white by Mutz Greenbaum (Night and the City) and featuring a musical score by John Greenwood (Elephant Boy), Pimpernel Smith co-stars Francis L. Sullivan (
Night and the City), Allan Jeayes (The Four Feathers), Peter Gawthorne (The Amazing Adventure), Arthur Hambling (Odd Man Out) and Mary Morris (The Thief of Bagdad).



The Film:

English archaeologist Horatio Smith (Leslie Howard) takes his students to Germany before the start of World War II to study the existence of early Aryans. He is actually there, however, to free concentration camp inmates. General von Graum (Francis Sullivan), a Gestapo head, dispatches the beautiful Ludmilla Koslowski (Mary Morris) to find the man behind the escapes, but she instead allies with Horatio. Together they scheme to free Ludmilla's father, Sidimir (Peter Gawthorne).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Leslie Howard was among the British actors based in Hollywood who returned home during World War I to do their bit for the war effort, and this tale of a reincarnated Scarlet Pimpernel smuggling people out from under the Nazi's noses typifies the star's attitude to traditionally English values. Deftly directed and imaginatively edited, the film may nevertheless be just too restrained and Anglo-Saxon for its own good (especially Howard's characterisation of the absent-minded archaeology professor setting out to disprove the existence of an Aryan civilisation).

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Pimpernel Smith arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but has a reasonable bitrate for the 2-hour film. The feature looks quite pleasing with some rich grain textures. Contrast exports decent layering with appreciative shadow-detail and inky blacks. There is no real depth but this is all very watchable in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a few speckles but no detrimental flaws. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and the consistency and overall quality add to the very positive viewing experience.



















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master (24-bit). Audio is exported cleanly and without errors. The score by John Greenwood (Secret Agent, Man of Aran, Elephant Boy) sounds fine in the lossless adding another layer to the adventure/mystery features of the film. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.



Pimpernel Smith is good old-fashioned war-time adventure from behind the lines. I had seen this as a boy and had such fond memories - I was not disappointed. The Blu-ray (cool cover) is fine, typically bare-bones with a decent HD presentation. Totally charming. Go for it. 

Gary Tooze

November 18th, 2016

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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