The Scarlet Pimpernel

Parodies and media references

The novel has been parodied or used as source material in a variety of media, such as films, TV, stage works, literature, and games:

  • It was parodied as a 1950 Warner Bros. cartoon short featuring Daffy Duck, "The Scarlet Pumpernickel". An action figure of the Scarlet Pumpernickel was released by DC Direct in 2006, making it one of the few—if not the only—toys produced based on the Pimpernel.
  • In 1953, following Jack Kyle's performance for the Ireland national rugby union team against France in that year's Five Nations Championship, sportswriter Paul MacWeeney adapted lines from the work to salute Kyle.[3]
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel was parodied extensively in the Carry On film Don't Lose Your Head which featured Sid James as the Black Fingernail, who helps French aristocrats escape the guillotine while hiding behind the foppish exterior of British aristocrat Sir Rodney Ffing. It also features Jim Dale as his assistant, Lord Darcy. They must rescue preposterously effete aristocrat Charles Hawtrey from the clutches of Kenneth Williams' fiendish Citizen Camembert and his sidekick Citizen Bidet (Peter Butterworth).[4]
  • The Kinks 1966 single "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" contain two lines from the book; "they seek him here, they seek him there"; these lyrics also appear in the 1993 film In the Name of the Father when Gerry Conlon (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) returns home to Belfast in hippy style clothing that he got from London's Carnaby Street.[5]
  • In The Desert Song, the heroic "Red Shadow" has a milquetoast alter ego modelled after The Scarlet Pimpernel.[6]
  • The Canadian comedy team of Wayne and Shuster created a comedy sketch in 1957 based on the Scarlet Pimpernel called "The Brown Pumpernickel" in which, instead of a red flower as his calling card, the hero would leave behind a loaf of pumpernickel.[7][8]
  • Sir Percy and Marguerite are mentioned as members of an 18th-century incarnation of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the graphic novels of that title by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill and make a more significant appearance in The Black Dossier, in the accounts of both Orlando and Fanny Hill, with whom Percy and Marguerite are revealed to have been romantically involved.
  • A series of novels by Lauren Willig, beginning with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (2005), chronicle the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel's associates, including the Purple Gentian (alias of Lord Richard Selwick), spies in the Napoleonic era.[9]
  • Steve Jackson Games published GURPS Scarlet Pimpernel, by Robert Traynor and Lisa Evans in 1991, a supplement for playing the milieu using the GURPS roleplaying game system.[10]
  • Writer Geoffrey Trease wrote his adventure novel, Thunder of Valmy (1960; US title Victory at Valmy) partly as a response to Orczy's Pimpernel novels, which he argued were giving children a misleading image of the French Revolution.[11] Thunder of Valmy revolves around the adventures of a peasant boy, Pierre Mercier, during the start of the Revolution, and his persection by a tyrannical Marquis.[11]
  • Famed British barrister Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva, QC is often referred to by Fleet Street papers as "the Scarlet Pimpernel", because of his uncanny penchant for getting off clients facing the death penalty outside the UK.[12]
  • American band Tenacious D referenced it in their song, "Beelzeboss", sung by the devil.

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