Bulldog Drummond Escapes


Year 1937

Ray Milland as  Captain "Bulldog" Drummond  
Guy Standing as Inspector Nielson
Heather Angel as Phyllis Clavering
Porter Hall as Merridew
Reginald Denny   as Algy Longworth
 
Director - James Hogan
Screenwriters - Edward T. Lowe
  - Gerard Fairlie
  - Herman C. McNeile

In my 30 a movie collection, I've got a half dozen titles that begin with "Bulldog Drummond" and he's busy doing things like returning or coming back or, in this instance, escaping. More aptly, I think it's not Bulldog Drummond but rather Ray Milland who is escaping from role association hell.

Imagine if, as an actor, all you were associated with was the role of the less than charming Bulldog Drummond. It'd be like being associated with Mal Reynolds. Well, Bulldog isn't that bad. He doesn't promise unwavering loyalty one minute and then use you as bait the next.

But he's close. For example, in this episode, his buddy Algy Longworth (Reginald Denny) is in the hospital waiting for his first born to arrive. Bulldog takes him away from all that because, at this particular moment in Algy's life, kowtowing to Bulldog is the most important thing he can do.

When I think of Ray Milland, I think of The Man with X-Ray Eyes. I don't think of a young, dashing screen pretty boy. In this movie, he is a cocksure, egocentric, twenty-something hamming his way through the movie. There's something mesmerizing about it though.

In this role, Milland affects some accent the likes of which I've never heard before. Is it English? Is it an American trying to sound English? Is it an American trying to sound not quite Scotch, not quite English, but rather a Scotch-British sort of accent as if the owner had grown up about thirty miles south of the border and twenty minutes west of the coast on an obscure island? You know the accent. It's not from the Isle of Man, it's from the Isle of Lame.

Heather Angel as Phyllis Clavering is cute in a skinny, British kind of way. Her character is also ditzy enough to be endearing in small doses.

The real gem in this movie though is Porter Hall as Merridew, the Boyscout of Butlers (he's always prepared). Cut off this man's arm and he'd apologize for not looking right in his shirt.

What's the plot? Uh, some woman is being held hostage against her will. (Is that redundant? Maybe not. Maybe somewhere in this wide, wide world there's someone being held hostage as a favor to them. I dunno.) It's up to Bulldog to rescue the maiden, embarrass the local police, unravel the mystery of why she's being held hostage, and then become engaged to the girl.

It's better than a Flash Gordon or Commando Cody serial, but only just. You have to know that Bulldog will get knocked out a few times but will come through in the end with only four or five really absurd "clues" to help him. Despite the fact that he should be a vegetable due to brain damage, he nevertheless keeps his irritating banter at the same level he maintained prior to being repeatedly struck about the head with metal objects.

In concussion, er, conclusion, you're probably wondering why I'd recommend this movie at all. The reason this movie is only under Torn and Frayed is that I've seen one of the sequels. This movie is better than the "son of" series that followed. Should you watch it? How desperate are you?


Back to the "Torn and Frayed " list or the main movie list.