Bulldog Drummond (1929)

Bulldog Drummond
Bulldog Drummond (1929)

Run time: 89 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Director: F. Richard Jones
Writers: Herman C. McNeile, Sidney Howard
Stars: Ronald Colman, Claud Allister, Lawrence Grant
Storyline

In his first talkie, Colman’s mellifluous voice and urbane manner certainly make the role of Drummond all his own, as he aids a lady whose father has been kidnapped.

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    March 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Ex-army captain Hugh Drummond, first introduced by Hector McNeil (Sapper) in 1920, was, at the time of his first appearance in print, meant to be the embodiment of everything that was good and upright in the English character, but closer examination reveals someone distinctly less appealing, an educated fascist thug who is constantly seeking an outlet for his built-in violence…

    Finding it in a kind of moralistic crusade against crime, he delights in the suffering imposed by his brutal methods, nonchalantly breaking people’s necks and organizing the military Black Gang to terrorize Bolshevik agitators…

    Drummond’s first screen appearance was in 1922 when Carlyle Blackwell (as Drummond) and Gerald Deane (as his resourceful companion Algy Longworth) starred in a straight adaptation of the original novel: Singer/dancer Jack Buchanan came next in "Bulldog Drummond’s Third Round" (25) but it was Colman’s restrained and immaculately well-timed performance in Sam Goldwyn’s first talkie "Bulldog Drummond" that proved the most popular of all…

    He was a character far removed from Sapper’s original… In place of an upper class thug was a twentieth-century adventurer, a gentleman amateur complete with tweed jacket, white scarf and open sports car who, to relieve the boredom of his life, advertises in ‘The Times’ for his cases.

    He receives a large number of letters, the most promising coming from a beautiful young woman (a lovely Joan Bennett in her movie debut) who tells him that her uncle is being held prisoner in an insane asylum by doubtful doctors – who are in reality a gang of international crooks…

    So enduring was Drummond’s popularity that an eight-film series (with John Howard) was made between 1937-1939 and the character was played by such famous stars as Sir Ralph Richardson and Ray Milland… Even the Sixties saw him in action with Richard Johnson in "Deadlier Than the Male" (1966) and "Some Girls" (1988).

  2. Anonymous

    March 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    So far, all the Ronald Coleman movies I’ve seen have been

    silents. Therefore, I was glad to get a hold on his talkie debut,

    Bulldog Drummond. As a film, it is very good. It’s pretty exciting,

    full of good acting from Coleman, Lilyan Tashman, Claud Allister,

    Montague Love and a few others. I found Joan Bennet’s work to be

    pretty poor and forced. Not quite the same as that role in Woman

    in the Window. Still, not bad for a first sound picture.

    Since it’s an early talkie, the slow-moving moments are excusable.

    And there are really very few if you think about it. Plus the dialogue

    was hillarious. Props to whoever came up with the role of Algy.

    Deffinatly my favorite character. It’s not a film everybody will enjoy,

    but if you so desire it, this is a better example of a 1929 talkie.

    7/10.

  3. IMDBReviewer

    March 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Bulldog Drummond is best known for being the debut of Ronald Colman in sound pictures. It was one auspicious debut to say the least.

    A whole lot is written about the stars who could not make the transition to sound, mainly because for one reason or another their voices did not match the screen persona they created. The other reason is that many tended to overact in the way they had to in silent films to put across their feelings.

    But there are several examples of those players who voices completely matched their screen personalities so much so that I can't envision them in silent films. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and W.C. Fields in comedy were so much better in sound I can't see how they did it silent films. Gary Cooper was another, his Montana drawl perfectly fit his screen image. William Powell's years of stage training and that perfect diction helped him bridge the transition.

    But Ronald Colman was something unique. The greatest voice in the history of cinema, a man you could listen and be enthralled by him reciting your local yellow pages. His perfect Oxford English was so right for his character of English adventurer Bulldog Drummond.

    This was the first Drummond film and the part was to be played by several other actors including Colman again. But this film seems to have set the format out. Drummond, a veteran of the World War, was your typical upper middle class English gent who's just plain bored by a rather useless life. He takes out an advertisement basically putting himself out in the way Edward Woodward did sixty years later in the television series The Equalizer. Of course he gets several replies back, but Colman responds to a note from American Joan Bennett.

    It seems that Bennett's uncle, an American millionaire, is being held captive by Lilyan Tashman and her associates in a disguised asylum where they have him drugged and gradually turning over his fortune.

    Bennett is a sweet young thing, but the role with real bite in it is Lilyan Tashman doing the kind of part Gale Sondergaard did later on. Tashman kind of has a thing for Colman, mainly because he's a man who doesn't fall for her charms as chief assistant Montagu Love has. No pun intended, but Montagu's practically her love slave.

    Bulldog Drummond would have rated higher with me, but I simply could not stand Claud Allister's portrayal of Algy, Drummond's tag along friend from his club who's the quintessence of every silly sot of an Englishman every done on screen. I mean he's worse than useless, he's counterproductive. Colman should have let Tashman and her goons have him.

    Noted radio singer Donald Novis sang a couple of songs in a country inn where a lot of the story takes place. Novis had a great lyric tenor and starred on Broadway and radio as well as making a few films. He's best know for playing the lead role on Broadway in Rodgers&Hart's Jumbo and introducing the song The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. This was Novis's screen debut, but sad to say he never had much of a film career.

    For those fans of Ronald Colman, Anglophiles around the world who see in him the best embodiment of the UK national character.

  4. IMDBReviewer

    March 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    The year 1929 was a pivotal year in Hollywood for the talkie with a great rise in the percentage of all talking pictures and a slowdown on silents. Ronald Coleman, a box office star in silent pictures, makes his talking debut. Audiences of the day were pleased with his wonderfully cultured English. Also giving great support is Claude Allister as his wealthy society friend Algy. Joan Bennett in her film debut at age 18 shows her inexperience, though her lines are not much to work with, and Lawrence Grant as the evil Dr. Lackington hams it up like John Barrymore and delivers his lines at the slow and deliberate pace of Bela Lugosi.

    Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is a wealthy retired office of the British army who yearns for another war to fight. Like Bruce Wayne (Batman), he wants to use his skills to help those in need. He answers the call to meet Joan Bennett at the Green Bay Inn and finds out that her father is being held against his will and tortured at a nursing home run by the evil Dr. Lackington (Grant). Montague Love is Dr. Lackington’s strong man. In one very funny scene Love goes to the Green Bay Inn to catch Drummond. An Irish tenor has been singing and playing his accordion all evening. Love and a crony toss him out the door with his accordion making glissandos as it exits with him.

    Drummond has a stable of cars of which two are shown in the film. The one he chooses to drive is a Mercedes SSK (the Excalibur is a copy of it). He drives it at night with the top down wearing a hat, scarf, and trench coat. Algy and his valet are always nearby following him in his Rolls Royce!

    This movie might seem crude by today’s standards, but judging it in the context of its time, it is far more entertaining than the poor musicals or slow boring adaptations of plays that the talkies usually featured during this era. Compare it with "The Great Gabbo" also released that year or "Annie Christie" , Garbo’s first talkie released in 1930, and you’ll see what I mean. In my opinion it’s the best talkie prior to "All Quiet on the Western Front", which was filmed in 1929 and released the following year and went on to win "Best Picture".

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