Saturday, May 25, 2013

In short: Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937)

Oh noes! Evil foreigners (J. Carrol Naish and Helen Freeman) kidnap Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond's (John Howard) perma-fiancée Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell) shortly before they can get married. It's as if the fiends were in on the series' long running gag regarding the matter. Then, the bad guys proceed to have Drummond, his mentally disabled sidekick Algy (Reginald Denny), and his long-suffering (and enjoying it) butler Tenny (E.E. Clive), jump through various hoops in form of particularly lame riddles that have them racing between the same handful of sets.

Only Drummond's old friend Colonel/Inspector Neilson (John Barrymore) isn't allowed to play, so he follows the rest of the cast around in various silly disguises.

It's been some time since I last took a look at one of the Bulldog Drummond movies. B.D. Comes Back surely isn't the film to suck me back in. Too little are director Louis King's efforts to hide that the script (by Edward T. Lowe Jr.) he is working from doesn't actually have a plot, nor anything much interesting happening in it, even for the generally cheap and simple world of Bulldog Drummond movies. Most of the other films of the series (regardless of who was playing Drummond in that particular week) are at least trying to use their limited options to entertain their audience.

It's not so much that the film's basic set-up is deeply stupid that's the problem here but rather that it doesn't even attempt to distract the audience from the fact all it ever does is have its characters run in circles, doing the same thing over and over again. The resulting effect is a film very close to what a lab rat in a particularly undemanding labyrinth must feel.

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