|BULLDOG DRUMMOND (director: F. Richard Jones; screenwriters: based on the play Bulldog Drummond by Herman C. "Sapper" McNeile /Sidney Howard/Wallace Smith; cinematographers: George S. Barnes, Gregg Toland; editors: Frank Lawrence, Viola Lawrence; music: Hugo Riesenfeld; cast: Ronald Colman (Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond), Joan Bennett (Phyllis), Claude Allister (Algy), Lawrence Grant (Dr. Lakington), Wilson Benge (Danny), Lilyan Tashman (Irma), Montague Love (Peterson), Gertrude Short (Barmaid), Charles Sellon(Travers), Adolph Milar (Marcovitch), Tetsu Momai (Chong), Donald Novis (tenor); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel Goldwyn; MGM; 1929)|
but primitive early sleuth pic."
by Dennis Schwartz
but primitive early sleuth pic that spawned the
popular Bulldog Drummond series. At least 13
different actors have played the affable suave
roguish lead character since it was first
screened in 1922. The art director for this
early talkie was the great William
Cameron Menzies, who received an Oscar for his
set design. Noted silent comedy director F.
Richard Jones ("Yankee
Doodle in Berlin"/"Mickey"/"The Extra Girl") did a
swell job handling the action scenes. Writers Sidney
Howard and Wallace Smith adapt it from the
English play by Herman C. "Sapper" McNeile.
Sapper was the pseudonym he used when his Drummond
short story first appeared in The Strand Magazine and
the character was then expanded in his 1920 novel.
Drummond (Ronald Colman) is bored with civilian life
in London after serving as a British army officer
during WW I. So he audaciously takes
out a newspaper ad about seeking out an adventure
assignment. The ad is answered by an American girl
named Phyllis (Joan Bennett). She wants her uncle
Hiram Travers (Charles Sellon) rescued
from a fake nursing home, where he's being held
captive by the sadistic lunatic Dr. Lakington (Lawrence
Grant) and his
enforcer Peterson (Montague Love).
They are torturing uncle to sign away his fortune.
locating Travers in the nursing home, where he's in a
drug-induced coma, Bulldog is aided by his pal Algy (Claude
Allister) in kidnapping Travers. They then await
for the bad guys to come after Travers in the inn they
are using to set a trap. Before it concludes on a
happy note, Phyllis and Bulldog have time to declare
love for each other.
Tashman is the femme-fatale hooked up with the
in his first talkie makes for a likable smoothie
matinee idol hero, who received an Oscar
nomination for his performance. While Allister
winsomely plays to a hilt his comedy
second-banana part stage-like. Though the
Drummond meller appears creaky today, it's still easy
to see why it wowed audiences back in the day.
REVIEWED ON 1/8/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ