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Movie Critique – Bulldog Drummond Comes Back

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: Sixty four minutes of chase, using your little grey cells as Poirot would say, and trying to one-up the criminals all the while working on finding Phyllis. It is entertaining with enough mystery, romance and grimness.

Bulldog Drummond Comes Back is a 1937 American mystery film starring John Howard, John Barrymore and Louise Campbell in lead cast. Based on the 1928 novel The Female of the Species, the fifth novel for the fictional character created by H. C. McNeile, the film was directed by Louis King and produced by Stuart Walker & Adolph Zukor.

Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond was first published in The Strand Magazine and failed to impress the readers. McNeile then reworked on it with his 1920 novel Bulldog Drummond and gave us 10 novels, four short stories and four stage plays before he passed away in 1937. From 1938 through 1954 the stories and books continued which were written by McNeile's friend, Gerard Fairlie.

Drummond got his first film adaptation in 1920 titled aptly as Bulldog Drummond, a straight adaptation of the very first novel. Since then there have been several screen adaptations based on the novels. On Mutual Broadcasting System, Drummond had his own radio show from 1941 through 1949, and was portrayed by actors such as George Coulouris, Santos Ortega and Ned Wever. 

Bulldog Drummond Comes Back forms the seventh film version of the character by Paramount in late 1930s. In this, John Howard played the role of Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond while the top-billing actor John Barrymore played his friend Colonel Nielson, working at Scotland Yard, a supporting character. Interesting!

Phyllis Clavering (portrayed by Louis Campbell), Drummond's fiancée is kidnapped and given a series of riddles to solve and find Phyllis before time runs out. With the help of his friend Colonel Nielson, Drummond works in unraveling the clues, thus rescuing his fiancée as well as bringing the culprits to justice.

Howard & Campbell make a cute couple, Drummond & Clavering, with romance in the air. Their chemistry is spot on and makes you want to feel love along with them.

E. E. Clive's Tenny as Drummond's personal valet adds in the comic relief for the otherwise a slightly grim tale. It still amazes me that in the past how much the masters counted on the opinion of their valets / manservants / maids for their daily lives. 

I couldn’t figure out who does John Howard resemble, but his face feels so familiar like I have seen countless of his movies, and yet this is the first one of his that I am watching. 

John Barrymore, even though a top-billing actor, does well as a supporting role and doesn’t over shadow Howard's Drummond at any time.

In fact he only strengthens Drummond's characterization. He however is an excellent master of disguises as you can see below. 

A cat and mouse game between Drummond and the kidnappers with clues that he need to unravel at every turn to find where the kidnappers have taken his fiancée, Phyllis. Howard played Drummond more times than any other actor, and I can say he suits the part really well.

Sixty four minutes of chase, using your little grey cells as Poirot would say, and trying to one-up the criminals all the while working on finding Phyllis. It is entertaining with enough mystery, romance and grimness.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. Paramount made 8 films in the late 1930s based on Bulldog Drummond.

b. At one point in the film, Barrymore's Colonel Nielson, wears a disguise and tells his subordinate, Sanger, that "he really thinks he should have been an actor, but that he settled for a less dangerous profession". Oh how comical of Barrymore! 

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