IA #10: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)

 The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) on IMDb

Here is a story that provided many of the roots of the modern comic book hero. As Wikipedia put it, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the name of a chivalrous Englishman, Sir Percy Blakeney, who exhibits characteristics that would become standard superhero conventions, including the penchant for disguise, use of a signature weapon (sword), ability to out-think and outwit his adversaries, and a calling card (he leaves behind a scarlet pimpernel at each of his interventions). The 1903 novel arguably established the idea of a secret identity.

Leslie Howard, who starred in this 1934 film, made a similar modern-day version of the story in 1941’s “Pimpernel” Smith, which is #60 in the Internet Archive Top 100. Nothing beats this original, where Howard rescues innocents from the French Revolution instead of the Nazis.