The "Scarlet Pimpernel" legend is updated to WW2 in the breathless actioner Pimpernel Smith. Leslie Howard (who also directed) plays bespectacled and seemingly mild-mannered Professor Smith, who under cover of darkness transforms into a tireless defender of democracy. With the help of several loyal companions, Smith makes several forays into Nazi-occupied territories to rescue the oppressed victims of the Third Reich, using a phony archeological expedition to throw the villains off the track. The picture really roars into life during the cat-and-mouse exchanges between the Professor and his Gestapo antagonist Von Graum, phlegmatically enacted by the corpulent Francis L. Sullivan. In some markets, Pimpernel Smith was retitled Mister V.