Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sir Percy's Biggest Fault {by Anna}

This is the post wherein I scold Sir Percy and am guillotined by the Leaguettes for doing so.

First all you girls who have just gasped loudly and are now picking up rocks to hurl at my head for even suggesting that anyone could even find a fault with Sir Percy....please set the rocks down (a little farther from you if you please...thank you)...........Because I actually have three faults with him. But keep reading.

Back-story: Lately I've been thinking about The Scarlet Pimpernel (Like that's new!) and after reading the post on this blog written by Miss Dashwood about Armand St. Just a thought came to mind. I thought I'd share it with ye all! :) (oh, and you had better like smiley-faces because I am a ardent believer that one can never have too many smiles on one's blog posts. Thus, I am a bit addicted to them.)

Let me say that I will not be easy on the man. Percy gets that from every other post on this blog and by every other person who reads or watches him. I've always liked a good argument (I am ashamed to say) and so I won't go light on him. *clears throat and grabs a handful of popcorn along with a sip of soda-pop before continuing this blog post rife with controversy*.

Now it's only been said a few hundred times - So hey! what's one more time? - Sir Percy Blakeney is amazing. If for no other reason than he can lean against a tree very heroically.

Plus - he has excellent taste in cravats, and there are so many good lines he says that my sister and I could carry out a 5-minute conversation using only his quotes!

Er-hem! "Movin' on!" (I also quote Night at the Museum very often.) I also get insanely distracted, in case you can't tell.  I'm beginning to think I have ADHD........... Right. Where was I? Oh yes! Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart.

I should probably get to my point, or I'll drive you all mad with wondering what could possibly be Percy's biggest fault?! So without further ado, I shall tell you. (I am a poet. And you did not know it, what! *chuckles*) Here they are.................

Sir Percy's 1st Fault: He is insanely prideful. And I mean really prideful.

Now he does have two different kinds of pride, I will say. Here is the first, which is different than the second and I don't really think it's "bad" per-say:

          #1 - His pride for his country and his duty to save Aristos from the guillotine because it is the right thing to do. This is not the pride that was attempted to be humbled in "The Elusive Pimpernel" I don't believe.

          #2 - His pride *in* his duty to save Aristos. Now that may have sounded like the exact same thing, but I believe they can be different.

The first one is more a question of "The right or wrong thing to do". He doesn't allow the Aristos to die because it goes completely against humanity. The second one is more of a pride "in his saving them". The daring exploits and the witty banter with Chauvelin. It mentions how many times that Percy loves the "sport" of the intense rescues? I honestly believe that this is the pride that Chauvelin attempted to humble in "The Elusive Pimpernel".

He comes across to me as always saying that he travels to France multiple times each week for the "sole purpose to rescue Aristocrats - no matter what the outcome is for him in the end". If that's the case, then he shouldn't care if everyone in England hates him. Those closest to him would believe him and still follow him to the guillotine to save the innocent people. If he really did "die from the shame" as Chauvelin predicted he would...then I'm sorry....but Sir Percy would be pathetic for caring that much what people think of him.

My point to all that rambling? Cool your pride, Percival Blakeney, and humble yourself for a little while! Go take a nap. Buy a little fluffy kitten or something. ;)

[On a random note: Is it just me, or do you guys think AA looks insanely skinny in TSP1982? I know the guys back then wore undergarments that were much like the women's stays (weird, I know) but I don't think they'd use those for a movie. He just looks really thin. Anyway....]

Sir Percy's 2nd Problem: His attitude towards his wife and their relationship.

Did anyone frown at Sir Percy while reading chapter 16 ("Richmond")  of The Scarlet Pimpernel for the first time? I mean honestly? Even if you knew the whole story, weren't you a little disturbed by Percy's attitude towards Marguerite? I know I was. I will split this into two parts.


He won't admit he's in love. (He needs to go listen to "Won't Say I'm in Love" from Hercules.) What harm could it do to tell her he loves her? He didn't have to actually say: "Marguerite, my darling! I love you more than words can express (he does always go tongue-tied in her presence...don't he?). I have loved you from the very first day! Oh! And I'm The Scarlet Pimpernel!! Surprise! But I didn't want to tell you before because I don't trust wife..... and I'm afraid you'll betray me......your husband!" *shakes head grinning* Hehe! That would be very comical.

What was he trying to prove by not telling her? It doesn't help their already-worn relationship by not saying it. (He also needs to listen to "How Does She Know?" from Enchanted!) He doesn't have to tell her that he's the Scarlet Pimpernel. He could say that there is stuff he doesn't want to discuss with her if the conversations drifted that way. He didn't have to press his 'turn off' button. I honestly believe she would have respected him worlds more if he had been honest with her from the beginning. Even after he found out about St. Cyr. I think Armand was correct to some degrees when he angrily said: "You do not know how to love!"

I'm sorry, Percy! I know you love Marguerite!


They don't even live in the same part of the house. That was just plain depressing when I read that. :( And I blame that entirely on Percy. I don't care if they hate each other - the fact of the matter is that they are married to each other. They're one. "You don't live on opposite ends of the house, sillies!" I'm not saying he doesn't love Marguerite. Don't get me wrong. He just needed some work, as we all do! ;)

Maybe I'm just too "picky" when it comes to books and movies. I am a Christian and so have a Christian mind-set while watching many movies and reading books. Perhaps I just expect too much....

After all that, I have to say that I am sooooooooo happy Baroness Orczy kept all that in the books!!! :) It shows that he's human after all and isn't perfect! This whole post was from the mind-view of the books, not the movies. :) He wasn't nearly as bad in these areas in the movie as in the books.

I wouldn't normally have been so strait-forward and judgmental with characters like I just was, but I thought that since he is looked upon so much as being almost perfect, he deserved to have some of the problems I found with him shared. I hope you all don't hate me now. :)

Don't get me wrong: I love Sir Percy (I even drew a picture of him one day when I was bored) and I believe that the whole pride-issue is not in the books very often. For 95% of the time he really does cares about others and not himself. After re-reading this post I was thinking: "Percy!! I'm sorry!! I still like you! Really!!!" He's probably looking at me right now in his most foppish way possible with that smile of his - which is always ready for a laugh - on his lips in a most disapproving way.

I hope you enjoyed this post!! Even those of you holding the rocks. *grin* Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to post on one of my favorite blogs ever!! :D This post was a blast to write and the readers of my own blog are probably ready to tear my head off if I mention Sir Percy one more time. :) he. he. heee. yeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh. And now all I have to say is -

Sink Me!

Anna Grace is a Christian, sixteen-year-old homeschooler who is not allowed to stay in her PJ's all day. ;) She loves most everything retro. Primarily 1920's-1940's. She enjoys ASL (American Sign Language) and piano. When she is not blogging she may be found reading, playing piano, daydreaming, watching some new-found movie or TV show (such as the BBC TV show titled 'Merlin'), or Skypeing with her friend while watching 'Grimm' together! She believes Merlin is much nicer and better at 'saving the world' than Harry Potter, Sir Percy Blakeney is much more cunning than Sherlock Holmes, Raoul is much more of a gentleman than the Phantom, and Davie Balfour is a much better lover than Peeta Mallark!
You can visit her blog "Little Me. Big Creator." here. She often posts movie, book, and character reviews along with some DIY projects, random outfits, photo-shoots, and ramblings of her piano-playing nerdyness.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Armand St. Just: To Hate or Not To Hate?

When I was younger, one of my very favorite movies was the 1950 Walt Disney adaption of Treasure Island.  (I still really like it and would definitely recommend it-- look it up!) The book captivated me when I was ten, and the movie brought all the swashbuckling adventure to life--with some hilarious quotes not found in the novel.  "Ye're a one-legged man with a foot in both camps," one of the mutineers snarls to Long John Silver near the end of the film, and that quote became a bit of a catchphrase in my family.  It frequently comes to my mind when I think of my own attitude toward Armand St. Just... in fact, it's pretty accurate (except for the fact that I'm a woman with two legs... but that's irrelevant).

The fact is, I really can't decide how I feel about Armand.  There are moments when I would be perfectly happy to send him off to the guillotine (if it weren't for the fact that Percy would then have to rush Into the Fire to save him, thereby putting his life on the line yet again for Armand's sake, and I don't want to put Percy in danger).  There are moments when I pity him and feel that even though he might not be the most prudent of men, he's not completely to blame for the messes he gets himself into.  Frankly, I just can't decide.

In reading posts on The Day Dream and chatting about TSP with fellow fans (er, I mean Leaguettes) I've found a divided camp.  Some loathe, abhor and detest Armand almost as much as they do Chauvelin.  (And, um, I'm one of those people who has to keep telling herself to hate Chauvelin for the first two-thirds of the 1982 movie.  *ducks tomatoes*)  Some like and defend him, though of course he can never compare to Percy.  And some, like me, are in the middle of muddle.  I'm in the middle of a muddle, in the middle of a muddle am I...

Ahem.  Moving on.

Let's begin by looking at Armand's bad points.  They are manifold.  Then we will look at Armand's good points.  I'm sure I'll be able to think of something.  (By the way, in this post I'm going to be considering the Armand of the books and the Armand of the 1982 movie, and I'll be switching back and forth between them without much prior warning, so be aware. :D)

Points Against Armand

1- Armand is not Percy.  
Therefore, he is not Ultimately Awesome. This, I think, speaks for itself.

2- Armand's loose lips can sink ships.
Seriously.  As far as Armand knows in the movie, Percy is just some random idiot who happened to rescue him from being beat up one fine summer evening.  (Pardon the momentary heresy, y'all.) Sure, he owes Percy something for having saved his life-- but that doesn't give him an excuse to bare his soul to Percy.  Especially since Percy has (presumably) only played the fool in front of Armand.  So why, then, does Armand feel it's okay to start blabbing about plans to rescue the Count de Tournay? Percy could be a spy for the Republic, for Pete's sake!  I think we tend to gloss over this one because, after all, WE know that Percy is the hero and therefore it's okay to tell him anything.  But Armand doesn't know that.  Why can't he keep his big mouth shut?

Then there's the time when Baron de Batz manages to winkle it out of Armand that he is, in fact, a member of the League.  That's when I do my spot-on impression of Vizzini's DNYEAAAAAH.  *slams head against wall*  Two words, Armand.  Duct tape.  Two more words. ON MOUTH.

Completely random and fangirly side note: doesn't Percy look
awesome in this picture?  Okay, like he ever DOESN'T...
3- Armand disobeys Percy's orders and ends up landing Percy in Chauvelin's hands.
Pardon me while I do a Mr.-Knightley-esque ERRRRMMMMMMMM.  There is one excuse and one excuse only for disobeying Percy's orders, and that is if you are Percy himself and have changed your mind about the appropriate course of action.  End.  Of.  Story.  Love and all that mushy-gush can wait.  If Percy tells you to jump, you say, "How high?"  Got it?

4- Armand doesn't trust Percy to get his girlfriend out of danger.
Armand, seriously.  You need your head examined.  This is Percy we're talking about.  Getting people out of danger is his day job! Don't forget it--you'll regret it.  Percy knows best.

5- The whole Louise-and-Armand-not-being-actually-married-but-acting-like-they-are.
Um.  This is my biggest problem with Armand-of-the-movie.  'Nuff said.
(I do want to point out that this isn't even hinted at in the books, though.  Sigh.  Why, why, why did it have to be in the movie?)

Points For Armand

*thinks very hard*
Okay, okay.

1- Armand's heart is in the right place. 
Sure, he's not the greatest guy that ever lived, but he does WANT to do the right thing.  Even if he doesn't always, you know, do it.  But to quote Maria Elisabeth, "Idealists are problematic.  As Marguerite said, 'I wish you had not so many lofty virtues. Little sins are far less dangerous and uncomfortable.' While the moral truth of that is more than doubtful and even I don't think Armand has very many lofty virtues, she has a point. Every bad thing Armand does comes from a good motive. A selfish feeling like cowardice would have made a lot less trouble."
...What she said.

2- Armand truly loves his sister.  
This isn't shown as much in the movie as it is in the books, but it's still there.  Marguerite and Armand are super-close--they have the ideal sibling relationship.  I mean, who doesn't go "awww" when Armand gives Marguerite away at the wedding?  Awwww.

3- Armand is not Percy.
I know this was originally listed in the Points Against Him, but really folks, we need to cut him some slack.  In comparison with the Baronet himself, everyone else in TSP looks like a half-dead fish.  (Except Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, who is awesome.  But not as awesome as Percy.)  So really, is it fair to compare poor Armand with Percy's Lightburst of Complete Awesomeness?  (And is it fair to use the L of CA to describe Percy, or is that copyrighted for Enjolras' use alone?)

4- Percy forgives Armand for betraying him.
Ought we not to do the same?
"We are men, Armand, and the word forgiveness has only been spoken once these past two thousand years, and then it was spoken by Divine lips," Percy writes to Armand in El Dorado.  (Read the full letter here.)   And yet Percy forgives Armand anyway.  Forgives the man who betrayed Percy and his entire band of faithful followers, who plunged Percy's beloved wife into danger, who directly disobeyed Percy's strictest orders,  who unwittingly wrote Percy's death sentence.  Sir Percy Blakeney forgives him.I'm a sucker for forgiveness stories.  (Les Miserables turns me into a bawling wreck every time.)   TSP was not necessarily written from a Christian perspective (though elements of El Dorado lead me to believe that it might have been), yet the story is one that reflects the sacrificial, forgiving love that Christ displays to His people.  (You can read more on this subject here, by the way-- yes, I blatantly stole my thesis for this from my incredibly insightful sister.  She's not going to sue me.)

So, folks, that's Armand.  There's a lot against him.  There's a lot for him.  But the biggest element on Armand's side is that Percy forgives him, trusts him and believes in him... and that's enough for me.

I've officially resigned from the Hating Armand St. Just Club.  I still won't say I really truly like him, but I'll tolerate him.  Baby steps, you know.

And he still ain't Percy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: The Emperor's Candlesticks

Hello again, m'dears.  Today we have Petra from Winsome Reviews reviewing Baroness Orczy's first novel, The Emperor's Candlesticks.

The daring capture of the heir to the Russian throne provides a group of revolutionaries with the power to effect the release of some of their imprisoned comrades.  Young Ivàn Volenski secrets the epistle with their ultimatum in one of the Viennese Emperor’s famous candlesticks, planning on smuggling them this way across the border. An incredible set of circumstances, however, takes the candlesticks from his hands and places them in the possession of Madame Demidoff, a well-known spy for the Russian government.  Hope remains that the papers lie undetected in their hiding place, but Ivàn  will have to race against time and match his wits against the power of the government if he wishes to regain the letter and save the lives of both himself and his fellow plotters.

Baroness Orczy’s first novel did not prove a commercial success and even ardent fans of hers can see why.  Though the story contains traces of the traits that would catapult her to fame—international intrigue, beautiful heroines, bloodthirsty villains—the plot proves uneven in pacing and never strays from the predictable. The strength of the book lies in the sensitive portrayal of its characters, but even they struggle for the full interest and sympathy of the readers.

Ivàn Volenski forms part of a group dedicated to overthrowing the Russian government.  Readers do not obtain much information as to their full goals or even most of their methods, though Baroness Orczy takescare to inform them that the majority of the group abhors any plan that would require them to murder in cold blood. Even so, the group carries out a bold kidnapping that could require them to do just that if their plans should go awry, and one suspects that their comrades would not be languishing in jail if they had not concocted some other violent plot.  Orczy attempts to extricate Ivàn even further from such schemes by repeatedly blaming his involvement on his nationality.  Apparently poor Ivàn has no free will in the matter; his heritage dictates that he should join anarchist societies even if he does not fully believe in them.

Unfortunately, this explanation does not succeed in making Ivàn as sympathetic as one suspects Orczy wished.  Readers might respect the man more if he truly believed in his cause, truly desired to form a better future for his countrymen—even if he set about it the wrong way.  Instead, readers have to decide how much they can like a man who gets involved in violent plots without considering the damage they might cause.  Ivàn seems, if nothing else, at least terribly irresponsible.

The other protagonist, MadameDemidoff, does little better in securing the sympathy of the readers.  She has many admirable qualities, including charm and a quick wit, but her position might make the audience hesitant to accept her fully.  Orczy tries once again to shift the blame from her character by stating that the government compelled Madame Demidoff to work for them.  This one can readily believe, but one also has to question why the woman, if she performs her service so unwillingly, is so incredibly good at it.  The only thing that seems to bother her about her work is that she might get caught—and thus lose her admired place in society.

The hints of romance that surround the two opposing characters had the potential to arouse more interest in their fates—nothing makes characters more likable than the sufferings of unrequited love.  Orczy, however, fails to exploit this gift.  She makes one or two offhand remarks about the situation, then leaves the protagonists to focus on other affairs. Fans of The Scarlet Pimpernel cannot help but wonder how the creator of Sir Percy and Marguerite allowed such an opportunity to escape her!

The Emperor’s Candlesticks will interest fans of the Scarlet Pimpernel desirous of seeing how Orczy grew as a writer, but does not have a strong enough cast of characters or an exciting enough plot to recommend itself on its own merits.

Petra is a lover of books who particularly enjoys classics, fantasy, and swashbucklers.  She blogs at Winsome Reviews, where she and her friends discuss books and films in a Catholic light.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quote of the Week #4

Sir Percy: If we are to succeed, we must maintain our anonymity, mask our identities. Even if it means suffering the mockery of others. Being taken for fools, fops, nitwits, even cowards.
Lord Timothy Hastings: That's the easy part. The hard part's not being able to boast about our exploits to the ladies.
~TSP 1982

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Elusive Pimpernel...again

And so I announce that I have FINALLY read a TSP sequel. It took me nearly two years to get my hands on one. Sad, isn’t it? And even though I know there's already a review of this book posted on here, I decided I still needed to post this. Cause I FINALLY READ IT!!! But enough with my grousing and on with the review!

So this is what a scarlet pimpernel actually looks like... :)

Chauvelin is back and as determined to get his hands on our elusive hero as ever. His plan? Ruin Sir Percy’s honor, find the identity’s of all those in the League, and regain his own reputation among the French revolutionaries with one blow. Whoa- what? Ruin Sir Percy’s honor? What’s with that? No, Chauvelin doesn’t want to kill The Scarlet Pimpernel. At least, not directly. Instead he wants to so utterly break him, humiliate him, and make his very name a byword of derision and scorn that the Scarlet Pimpernel will eventually commit suicide. After all, it just wouldn’t satisfy Chauvelin for his enemy to go down to the guillotine in blaze of glory, a hero to the end for aristocrats and Englishmen everywhere.

So we all know Chauvelin’s the bad guy. But really, his "either-or" in this book was so unbelievably evil that I wanted to-to-to…well, I can’t tell you, because that would give away spoilers. ‘Cause Sir Percy did exactly what I wanted to do.

It was immensely satisfying.

I mean, really, how many times does a character do exactly what you wanted him to?

It was nice to see Marguerite and Percy now that there were no secrets between them! Although, I must admit, the times where Marguerite tried to stop Sir Percy from leaving for France annoyed me. Yes, I do understand her point of view; he really was in incredible danger and she might never see him again. But part of me wanted to yell, "COME ON, Marguerite! Don’t you know Sir Percy has to leave so he can go SAVE people and be AWESOME???"

*Cough, cough * errmmm… maybe that came off a bit too strong….

But he is. And, what I liked about this book, was that you got to see the "real" him more than his English drawing room foppish-ness. Okay, well, maybe not more than, but more than the last book, anyway.

My poor sister got updates ever ten minutes while I was reading this.

"Emily, you won’t believe what Chauvelin’s doing now!"
"Okay, so how are they going to get out of this one? I just don’t know!!!"
"Hah! That was hilarious! Em, let me just read you this line…"

I think after about the fourth interruption (she was reading a novel herself) she started to get annoyed.

Well, I was having a good time.

True, I do think that sometimes The Scarlet Pimpernel books can be a little overmelodramtic {please don’t hit me with tomatoes!!!} and sometimes there’s chapters that are just full of information you don’t really care about {In my defense, it’s all the French revolution scenes…come on, guys! I just want to get back to Percy and Marguerite…} but overall they are always enjoyable. And of course havivg read three whole TSP books, I’m an expert

Well, so maybe I’m not what you would call and expert, but take my word for it that this book was worth reading. I mean after all... It's about Sir Percy !!!



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: Pimpernel Smith

I watched Pimpernel Smith the other night with my siblings. I think I smiled the whole way through... except for the times when I laughed and other times when I screamed, “PERCY! Oh, I mean, HORATIO!!”

Pimpernel Smith stars Leslie Howard (Sir Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1932), Ashley Wilkes, Gone With the Wind) and a lot of other actors I didn't recognize but enjoyed nonetheless. It's pretty much the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel set in Nazi Germany. Instead of innocent arisos, a mysterious man saves innocents destined for concentration camps. Epic, right?!

My Opinion
I was a little nervous about Pimpernel Smith at first. I mean, it's set in Nazi Germany! I didn't know if it would be okay for my younger siblings to watch, but we all agreed to start it and if anything came up, we'd turn it off and watch it with my dad. Also, I wasn't sure they'd do Sir Percy justice. If they got my favorite literary hero wrong, I'd probably be more than a little mad. (Not to mention that I'd never watch another Leslie Howard film ever again!!)

Boy, was I wrong!

When the credits first rolled, I noticed that not only had Leslie Howard starred in it, but he also directed and produced it. Then, the first scene started. The Scarlet Pimpernel character (who they never called anything like that) saved a man, and all you could see were shadows. Soon after, Professor Horatio Smith appears on the screen. He's a very absent-minded professor, interested only in antiques and his upcoming excavation. The instant he showed up, I knew I liked him. No, it wasn't Sir Percy, it wasn't Anthony Andrews, and it wasn't even Leslie Howard as Sir Percy. But I liked him anyway. A lot. Soon, things happened that made me like him a lot more. : )

There is also a romantic aspect of the film, which didn't really develop until the end and even then didn't really finish - which worked out in a very cool way. The young woman's name was Ludmilla. (I only knew that was her name because I looked in the ending credits... I don't think they ever say it in the movie...) She's been appointed by General von Graum to find out the identity of this mysterious man in exchange for the life of her father, who is in a concentration camp. (See the parallel?)

A few of my favorite scenes were ones that involved a train (“You're the bravest man I've ever known!”), a scarecrow (talk about nerve-wracking!), and a ball invitation (“They match!”). However, one of my favorite scenes was in the end. The entire “You are doomed.” scene. We actually skipped back to the opening of the scene and watched it a second time because it was so cool! So very like Sir Percy! It's exactly what he would say, too!

"We Germans fear nothing."
"Ah. Because you have a pistol?"
"Yes, I have a pistol. It has eight bullets. Eight lives."
"And I have twenty-eight lives..."

I'd better stop before I start quoting the entire thing...

Ooh... one more! Horatio actually said, “Yours, I believe.” I nearly shrieked again!

Just So You Know...
A few slight warnings. There are some not-very-good statues and paintings depicting women that are very scantily dressed. It's basically just Professor Smith's Aphrodite statue that he found (both the actual one in the first few minutes when he shows up for the first time, staring at it, then the photograph he shows Ludmilla), and the paintings in General von Graum's office. I just told my younger brother to close his eyes. Nothing really important happens in those scenes that you have to watch – it's okay if the guys just listen. Also, my sister said that Horatio smoked too much... but it plays a key part in the last scene. One more thing – there are no scenes about what actually goes on in a concentration camp and only a little blood from when a character gets shot. Nothing really major, except for the statues and paintings.

Pimpernel Smith is a movie that I'd totally recommend to any TSP fan. It's not too hard to find, either – you can wait a few days to get it in the mail from Netflix (I think it might even be streaming), or you can watch it on YouTube here.


"Don't worry - I shall be back!"