Captain High 'Bulldog' Drummond has just returned to England. As he is driving home in the dark, a young woman jumps out in front of his car. He misses her, but she falls to the ground. As he tries to revive her, he hears a shout for help, then gunshots. As he goes to investigate, the woman drives away with Drummond's car. He is soon able to trace her to nearby Greystone Manor, and when he goes there to meet her, she urges him to help her get out of a desperate situation. Written by
""But, ...., you'll find a crime or invent one before the night's over."
For my first introduction to the Bulldog Drummond franchise, I must say I was rather pleasantly entertained. The film is decidedly played in a much lighter vein than the Charlie Chan stories of the same era, and with a cast of characters that complement each other nicely. Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond (Ray Milland) however is not without his shortcomings as a detective, as he gets blind sided more than once and rescues the wrong girl before finally resolving the mystery.
In retrospect, the set up is one of the bigger plot holes in the movie. Miss Phyllis Clavering (Heather Angel) hijacks Drummond's auto in the middle of nowhere, only to return to the Greystone estate where she's being held captive. There we're introduced to a villainous cast of characters headed by Norman Merridew (Porter Hall), who masterminds a counterfeiting scheme following the murder of Miss Clavering's brother.
For his part, Drummond is aided by hapless partner Algy Longworth (Reginald Denny), and Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Reginald Nielson (Guy Standing). However it's Drummond's butler Tenny (E.E. Clive) who almost steals the show as the deadpan foil for his master, getting him out of more than one scrape before it's over. His best effort is when he nonchalantly drags a body in a blanket to Drummond's closet as if it were a routine occurrence.
Pay attention to a conversation between Phyllis and Drummond when she describes the letter she found in the garden. She states that it was blurry and covered in mud making it hard to read. Earlier however, when we see that same letter switched to prevent it from reaching Colonel Nielson, it appeared in perfect condition.
There's a running gag that gets a bit overdone regarding Algy's first encounter with fatherhood. He's constantly thwarted trying to get in touch with the hospital to find out what's happening. Of course everything works out well, as the old boy is rewarded with a son.
All in all, "Bulldog Drummond Escapes" is a fun story, complete with clever word play, the old shoes behind the curtain trick, a lights out gimmick and the advantage between good and bad guys shared equally. Drummond even gets the girl in the end, planning marriage as it were, though I understand other adventures stood in the way before that happened. I'm inclined to check them out based on this introduction to the series.
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