Bulldog Drummond (1929) B+
Ronald Colman felt that he has played serious, somber roles for too long, so he accepted this change-of-pace role, as Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, a man who offers his services as adventurer for hire.
Drummond gets mixed up with lovely Joan Bennett, whose wealthy father is being held against his will in a sanitarium. Drummond, his pal Algy (Claud Allister) and faithful butler Danny (Wilson Benge) march right into the villain’s lair, occupied by the evil Dr. Lakington.
Drummond is overpowered by Lakington’s henchpersons (played by Lilyan Tashman and Montague Love). Just when he is willing to accept the inevitability of his death, the unspeakable Lakington fondles the unconscious Bennett. Drummond escapes, and kills Lakington in cold blood.
He then becomes his old charming self and allows secondary villains Love and Tashman to escape. Drummond saves the millionaire and wins the girl.
Though later “Bulldog Drummond” films bear out the fact that he doesn’t marry her immediately as he should (every subsequent “Drummond” film would open with an interrupted wedding).
Shot in the earliest days of the talkie era, “Bulldog Drummond” is quite sophisticated for its time, directed with assurance by former Mack Sennett associate F. Richard Jones (who unfortunately died shortly after the film’s release).
Its only concession to the norms of “all talking-all singing” is the inclusion of some Irish songs sung by tenor Donald Novis.
Overall, “Bullddog Drummond” holds up due to its stiffness and staginess, largely due to Colmán’s suave performance as the sleuth, and sharply written scrpt by Sidney Howard, and cinematography by the brilliant Gregg Toland and George Barnes.
The movie was so popular that it launched many sequels, with different actors, including Ray Milland,
Oscar Nominations: 2
Actor: Ronald Colman
Interior Decoration: William Cameron Menzies
Oscar Awards: None
The winner of the Best Actor Oscar was another Brit, George Arliss, for “Disraeli.”
The Art Direction Oscar went to Herman Rosse for “King of Jazz.”
Running time: 85 Minutes.
Directed by F. Richard Jones.
Released: May 2, 1929 Wide
DVD: June 24, 1992
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