It’s 11:50 pm
The cheetah and I both enjoyed watching the first “Bulldog Drummond” film that we decided to watch the second half of the Warner Brothers Archive’s double feature as well.
“Calling Bulldog Drummond” was the 21st film released that featured the famed gentleman detective who helps people in need. The 1951 release saw Drummond retired and enjoying farming,including raising pigs.
But when a large,well organized criminal ring begins to cause havoc in London,Scotland Yard reaches out to Drummond to help crack the case. Drummond arranges to have himself “disgraced” by cheating at his club and is seen leaving for Africa.
Inspector McIver teams Drummond up with Sgt. Helen Smith, elite and skilled police officer in her own right. The two pose as criminals from have just blown in from Italy after pulling some jobs there. McIver suspects that the ring might be operating from a dive bar due to some very flimsy evidence.
Posing as “Joe Crandall” and “Lily Ross”,Bulldog and Helen devise a plan to get into the gang. Lily creates a fender bender with Arthur Gunns,the owner of the suspected HQ of the gang. When Arthur sees Lily carrying a gun and knowing she could get into big trouble from the cops,takes her purse and tells her to come get at the club,he has taken a fancy to her despite already having a main squeeze.
Joe meets Arthur and acts like the jealous boyfriend,Lily feeds into this by dancing with Gunns,buying Joe time to search the back office. After a narrow escape the two go back to the apartment where they discover that Gunns has also searched THEIR place! Due to Helen’s smart thinking of sewing Italian labels into their clothes,”Joe and Lily” are safe.
But to make sure they really reel in Gunns,Scotland Yard and Drummond stage a daring murder by “Joe” in broad daylight!! Gunns helps Joe escape and join the gang.
But Gunns girlfriend Molly is jealous of Lily and she starts snooping around,when she overhears a old army mate of Bulldog address as “Captain”,she suspects something may not be right.
Mean Drummond’s friend Algy is told about Bulldog’s disgrace about cheating at cards and Algy is confused because Drummond is so good at card tricks,no one would ever know he was doing it. Suspecting Bulldog has come out of retirement,he too,also begins to poke around,not knowing he has put his friend’s life in mortal danger.
When Joe and Lily are exposed by the Big Boss,time begins to run for Bulldog,Helen and even Algy,can they escape AND stop the criminal gang???
First off,while this is a good solid caper film with an incredible cast,while liking it,it lacked the charm and humor of the first film we reviewed. “Calling Bulldog Drummond” is lean,mean and with a running time of only 80 minutes,it wastes little energy in moving the story along.
While the screenplay was handled by four different writers,including Herman C. McNeile,who created the character..the direction of Victor Saville,who directed one of the most beloved films of all time,”Goodbye,Mr. Chips” is what keeps “Calling Bulldog Drummond” on track. Saville goes for action over violence and it keeps the viewer on their toes.
The most interesting thing is about this movie is its cast….and what a cast it is for a 80 minute detective genre picture.
Walter Pidgeon plays Drummond as a man who is retired but still feels he has something left in the tank. His give and take with both Helen and Gunns is pretty cool! The language of older films like this is half the reason to watch! As with the first movie,the age difference between Pidgeon and his leading lady,Margaret Leighton is pretty evident.
Pidgeon was 54 to Leighton’s 29. While they work very well as a team,there is no romantic tension between them and it shows.
Pidgeon is a huge fanboy favorite as he starred in one of the most famous sci-fi films of all time,”Forbidden Planet”,he also starred in the movie version of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”.
Margaret Leighton was a shining star in British films but died at age 53 of MS.
During her career she won 2 Tony Awards,she won a BAFTA Award and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in “The Go-Between”. Sadly she died at only 53 years old due to MS.
Bernard Lee played Colonel Webson,a member of Algy and Bulldog’s gentlemen’s club. Lee would go on to star as “M” in 11 of the James Bond films.
David Tomlinson played Algy this time around,he played it straight as Bulldog’s concerned friend and ally. Tomlinson would later star as George Banks in the Disney classic,”Mary Poppins” as well as many other Disney films. He overcome tremendous personal tragedy to have a wonderful career and be named a Disney Legend in honor of his acting for the studio.
Again,my only issue with this fine release is a lack of special features. The only extra for this movie is the trailer which I included in this review.
So while we liked “Calling Bulldog Drummond” and its very impressive cast and director,it lacks the charm and humor of the Ronald Colman 1929 effort.
The cheetah and I give this movie a thumbs/paws up.
You can buy this double feature by going to the Warner Brothers Archives website.
If you have seen any of the Bulldog Drummond films,drop a comment below and tell us which one was your favorite! We would love to hear from you…