This was the first of the Bulldog Drummond series, coming out in 1937 from Paramount. It’s Bulldog Drummond Escapes, and it stars Ray Milland as Captain Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, world-renowned adventurer and sometimes crime detective. I have already reviewed two of the series, which reviews you can find by following the links. I watched this on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.
What gets this and other Bulldog Drummond movies on the BMotW list is the absurd plot. Witness:
Opening scenes show Captain Drummond returning to England from the continent in a single engine plane. He’s having trouble landing, due to London’s notorious fogs. He’s in radio contact with the tower and is advised to not attempt a landing. He states he is coming down regardless and orders flares to be lit. Then he starts down, which is ridiculous. In the fog he can’t even be sure he is in the approach to the runway, and his descent can likely take him into the side of some tall structure.
Of course he makes it all right and ignores questions from reporters, charging off to see his old friend Algy Longworth (Reginald Denny). It’s a matter of life or death. Algy’s wife is having a baby. Drummond must set off on his next adventure absent Algy’s good assistance, at least for the first ten minutes of the movie.
Charging into the fog to meet with Inspector Col. Sir Reginald Nielson (Guy Standing), he encounters a damsel in distress. She is winsome and so in distress. He hits her with the car. She steals his car when he plops her into the seat and goes to investigate strange goings on nearby, one of which is the body of a dead man slowly sinking into the marsh.
The movie villains pick up sweet Phyllis Clavering (Heather Angel) and take her back to her palatial abode. She leaves her handbag in Drummond’s car, and that leads him to (ultimately) the love of his life.
She is in great danger, and she slips a note into his hat before he leaves to meet Sir Reginald.
Sir Reginald commands Captain Drummond leave England immediately. He doesn’t want an amateur detective muddling up his urgent investigations. Of course, Bulldog pays no heed, else no movie.
Without detailing the plot, I will just note the bad guys are after sweet Phyllis’ fortune. And they play rough.
Sweet Phyllis plays rough, as well, developing the art of kiboshing bad people on the head with available objects at just the right time. Bulldog falls madly in love with her. And you would too. She is a knockout.
Things get resolved, and Phyllis makes plans to run away. With Bulldog Drummond, for life. They will shortly be making their wedding plans.
This was based on Bulldog Drummond Again, a play by H.C. (Sapper) McNeile and Gerald Fairlie. Milland played Drummond in the first of eight in the series, replaced after this one by John Howard. Louise Campbell seems to have replaced the charming Heather Angel at some point.
Print quality for this video is God-awful. It’s black and white, of course, and tonal range of the images has been lost somewhere since 1937. The sound track has acquired a odious overlay of noise, which noise could possibly have been eliminated by modern digital filtering techniques. The interplay among the leading characters keeps up viewer interest as the plot develops predictably. This movie strives to create suspenseful interludes, but it comes off as contrived. It’s possible modern audiences have become spoiled by the high technical quality of modern productions. This is what went for excitement 80 years ago.