Calling Bulldog Drummond


1h 19m 1951
Calling Bulldog Drummond

Brief Synopsis

The British sleuth comes out of retirement to help catch a band of thieves armed with military weapons.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Dec 14, 1951
Premiere Information
London opening: week of 2 Jul 1951
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Ellstree, England, Great Britain; Elstree, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by H. C. "Sapper" McNeile.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

Retired British army captain and detective Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is visited on his farm by his old friend, Inspector Mac McIver, who asks for help in solving a series of crimes. Mac thinks that the gang, whose robberies are characterized by precision and discipline, may be led by a former military officer and convinces Hugh to head an undercover operation. Footprints found at various robbery scenes indicate the gang frequents a waterfront nightclub called The Last Word, run by underworld figure Arthur "Guns." Sometime later, Hugh's old friend, Algy Longworth, worries after Hugh apparently disappears, and members of their London men's club tell him that Hugh was exposed as a card cheat. Algy cannot believe this, even though club board member Colonel Webson says that Hugh confessed prior to leaving the country. Meanwhile, in a flat in Chelsea, Hugh meets his assignment partner, Sgt. Helen Smith. Although Hugh balks at working with an attractive woman, he soon comes to respect her. Hugh calls himself "Joe Crandall," a career criminal who has been operating in Italy for the past five years, while Helen poses as his wife, Lily Ross. The next day, Helen deliberately crashes her car into Arthur's and as he approaches, she drops her handbag, revealing a gun. When a policemen appears, she tosses the bag to Arthur and he secretly asks her to meet him at The Last Word. That night, she tells him "Lily's" story, knowing that Arthur had followed her after the accident and read a seemingly incriminating letter in her purse. Hugh then arrives, pretending to be jealous, and while Arthur and Helen are dancing, searches his office. Later, Arthur dismisses the concerns of his jealous girl friend Molly because he has sent men to "Joe" and "Lily's" flat and concludes that they are genuine. The next morning, Hugh leaves the flat, aware that Arthur is watching. When Arthur knocks on her door, Helen plays up to him until Hugh telephones, and, within earshot of Arthur, she pretends to be talking with Joe about a job. She then says she has to leave immediately to help Joe out and rushes away, aware that Arthur's men are following her. In front of a police station, Hugh pretends to shoot a policeman, then gets into Helen's car and speeds away. Meanwhile, Algy learns that Hugh has been spotted in London and asks Webson to postpone a decision to oust him from the club, saying that Hugh must be on a case. Webson, who is the secret leader of the gang, becomes suspicious and orders Arthur to bring "Joe" to the British Museum on the pretext of meeting "Number One." Looking through an observation window, Webson recognizes Hugh. That night, at The Last Word, Arthur has his thugs tie up Hugh and Helen and prepare to throw their cement-weighted bodies into the Thames. Molly stops Arthur by suggesting that she assume Helen's identity and trick the police by tipping them off about a phony job while the gang pulls off the real one. Pretending to be Helen, she calls Algy and asks him to meet her at the club after confirming her identity with Mac. Arthur sets the stage at the club by closing it down and filling it with members of the gang and their girl friends. He then has Hugh tied to a chair and seats him next to Molly. Algy arrives and plays his part, pretending not to know Hugh, not realizing that he is actually doing exactly as Arthur and Molly have planned. After Algy innocently calls Mac with information about the job that Molly has described to him, he dances with her. When Hugh catches his eye, Algy sees Hugh's handcuffs and finally realizes that he has been setup. The gang, now dressed in military uniforms, departs for the job, leaving one man behind to guard the tied-up Algy, Hugh and Helen. The gang goes to Metropolitan airport and executes their plan to steal £500,000 in gold bullion from a military plane diverted to a distant runway. After stealing the gold, the gang eludes the police by changing into civilian clothes and moving the loot into another truck. After the gang climbs into the back of the truck, Arthur locks the door from the outside and rigs the engine to send carbon monoxide from the exhaust into the vehicle. At the hideout, Helen's request for a cigarette distracts the guard and Hugh is able to knock him out. With Helen's help, and a lighter, Hugh burns his ropes off just as the guard is coming to. The guard grabs a knife and throws it at Algy, wounding him, but Algy shoots him dead with his hands still tied behind his back. Just then, Arthur drives the truck into the hideout and Hugh draws the guard's gun. In a shootout, Arthur is wounded a moment before the arrival of Webson, who explains to Hugh that he started the gang because he felt useless and bored in peacetime. The police are right behind Webson and arrest him and Arthur. They then open the door to the truck, saving the lives of the choking men, but placing them under arrest. With the case over, Hugh tells Algy that he might like police work and walks off with Helen.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Dec 14, 1951
Premiere Information
London opening: week of 2 Jul 1951
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Ellstree, England, Great Britain; Elstree, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on characters created by H. C. "Sapper" McNeile.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

Calling Bulldog Drummond


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
Calling Bulldog Drummond

Calling Bulldog Drummond

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

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The Variety review of the film incorrectly identified the cameraman as Graham Kelly. For information on other films featuring the character "Bulldog Drummond," please see the entry for Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.