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Sherlock Holmes investigates when young women around London turn up murdered, each with a finger severed off. Scotland Yard suspects a madman, but Holmes believes the killings to be part of a diabolical plot.
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"Confound it Drummond, how is it that whenever I see you someone has either been murdered or disappeared."
In this entry in the Bulldog Drummond franchise, the Captain (John Howard) finds himself on the trail of a pair of villains who have kidnapped his fiancée Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell). What makes the story interesting are the written and audible clues that Irena Soldanis (Helen Freeman) and her brother-in-law Mikhail Valdin (J. Carrol Naish) leave for the detective. The motive behind the kidnapping hearkens back to a murder trial that sent Irena's husband to the gallows, courtesy of Drummond.
"Bulldog Drummond Comes Back" seems to be a follow up to the same year's "Bulldog Drummond Escapes". In that film, the running gag had Drummond's sidekick Algy (Reginald Denny) fretting over the birth of his first son; this time out, Algy is worried about making the christening. Scotland Yard's Colonel Neilson is portrayed by the venerable John Barrymore this time around, and as befits his reputation, is actually top billed above the film's lead character. He earns it though, with a repertoire of disguises necessitated by the villains' threat to kill Miss Clavering if Scotland Yard gets involved.
But in this, my third viewing of a Bulldog Drummond movie, the scene stealer is once again Drummond's butler Tenny (E.E. Clive), who's deadpan repartee and mannerisms make for beautifully understated comic relief. He's also a bit more adventurous this time out, inviting himself along as Drummond and Algy take after the bad guys. It's interesting to note that it was Tenny who figured out one of the clues to be the old disappearing ink trick.
Note the scene in which Tenny hitches a ride on the back of the car which shanghais Drummond outside the Anglers Rest. Tenny looks into the rear window of the vehicle, and clearly visible inside is the back of a person's head. However inside the auto, Miss Soldanis and the kidnapped Miss Clavering are in the back seat, but with a shade pulled down over the window!
I've seen J. Carrol Naish now in a number of films, and he looks different every time out. Here, as the creepy villain Valdin he looks almost Oriental in appearance, in a characterization that would have done Peter Lorre proud.
Before the mystery is over, Drummond, Algy and Phyllis must escape a death trap before succumbing to lethal gas. Ever the enterprising butler, Tenny makes use of a Scotland Yard auto to remove a fallen tree from the road and arrive just in time to make the save. One thing though, can you really shoot the pin out of a door hinge with a handgun?
If you can overlook some of the less plausible elements in this and other films in the Drummond series, they're worth the effort in entertainment value. I'm still waiting though to see if Captain Drummond ever winds up at the altar; in both "Escapes" and "Comes Back" he winds up still single at the end of the film.
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