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Calling Bulldog Drummond

Calling Bulldog Drummond(1951)

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teaser Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)

Herman Cyril McNeile, under the pseudonym, "Sapper," first introduced the legendary ex-military man-turned-detective, Bulldog Drummond, to mystery fans in 1920. In 1929, Samuel Goldwyn wisely chose to adapt the character as a vehicle for his major male attraction, Ronald Colman. Drummond's witticisms perfectly suited both the star and the movie's new "talkie" revolution. As an early sound achievement, this big budget thriller remains a watershed transition effort, and, at the time became a smash hit - an element that 20th Century (soon to merge with Fox) remembered when they hired Colman to reprise the suave, handsome adventurer in 1934 for the appropriately entitled Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back. Two years previous, the British made their first Drummond outing, The Return of Bulldog Drummond, featuring the celebrated young thespian Ralph Richardson.

By the time MGM resurrected the character in 1951, as a frozen fund entry for their UK studios, the master sleuth had made 21 screen appearances - becoming the star of an excellent string of "B"s, whose various incarnations were released by Paramount, Columbia and Fox respectively, and, personified by Messrs. John Howard, Ron Randell and John Newland. For the MGM entry, Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), directed by the extremely busy Victor Saville (who had also helmed Conspirator (1949), the lead acting chores fell upon the always reliable Walter Pidgeon, who did the picture after finishing up his co-starring duties for The Miniver Story (1950), MGM's long-awaited sequel to their 1942 blockbuster.

A crisp, fast-moving mystery thriller, the kind the Brits do so well, Calling Bulldog Drummond had the now-retired shamus being coaxed back into service by Scotland Yard. With wonderful support from Margaret Leighton, Robert Beatty and David Tomlinson, this modest unpretentious entry did not disappoint fans, save in being the sole contribution of Pidgeon and MGM to the series. Of special note is the participation of Bernard Lee, best known to James Bond enthusiasts as Her Majesty's Secret Service head M; ironically, in 1966, Drummond would once again be revived as a souped up Bond-inspired crime fighter in the underrated Deadlier Than the Male, starring one of the original 007 contenders, Richard Johnson.

Director: Victor Saville
Producer: Hayes Goetz
Screenplay: Howard Emmett Rogers, Gerard Fairlie, Arthur Wimperis
Cinematography: F.A. Young
Editor: Frank Clarke, Robert Watts
Art Direction: Alfred Junge
Music: Rudolph G. Kopp
Cast: Walter Pidgeon (Maj. Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond), Margaret Leighton (Sgt. Helen Smith), Robert Beatty ("Guns"), David Tomlinson (Algy Longworth), Peggy Evans (Molly)
BW-80m.

by Mel Neuhaus

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