Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937)

Country: USA
Director: James Hogan
Starring: Ray Milland, Guy Standing, Heather Angel, Porter Hall, Reginald Denny, E.E. Clive, Fay Holden
Musical Direction: Boris Morros
Based on the play, ‘Bulldog Drummond Again’ by HC McNeile and Gerard Fairlie

Although by 1937 there had been quite a few Bulldog Drummond adventures committed to celluloid, Bulldog Drummond Escapes was the first in a series of films from Paramount. And this film is one of the best with Ray Milland playing Capt. Hugh ‘Bulldog’ Drummond.

The film features a rip-roaring action packed opening. Drummond (Milland) returns to London after a call from his old friend Algy Longworth (Reginald Denny), who is in hospital. The airport is fogged in, but Drummond makes a landing anyway. But the crisis isn’t quite what Drummond expected. Yes, Algy is in hospital, but awaiting on the delivery of his first child, to his wife Gwen. It seems Algy needs Drummond for support.

However, not everybody is happy to see Drummond. Wherever Drummond goes, trouble is a fellow traveller. Inspector Reginald Nielson, of Scotland Yard doesn’t want him around, and arranges to meet him later at Rockingham Lodge (Drummond’s home) in an effort to persuade him to leave.

As Drummond drives back home, a woman runs out in front of the car to stop him. Drummond skids to a halt and the girl passes out. After putting her in the back seat of his car, he hears a cry for help and rushes to investigate. Then he hears a gunshot and then finds a man, dead, in the marsh. Then the girl awakens and drives off in Drummond’s car, leaving him stranded. Alone, Drummond returns to the dead man in an attempt to find out what is going on. But upon his return, he finds that the body is no longer there.

Later, as Drummond is walking home, a car races past without stopping. As it whizzes by, he notices that the mysterious girl is now a passenger in this vehicle. As he continues walking, soon another car comes along the road. It is his car, and behind the wheel is Drummond’s faithful manservant Tenny (E.E. Clive). He found the car in a ditch as he was catching a car back to Rockingham Lodge. Drummond and Tenny search the car and find the girl’s purse. A card inside reveals that it is the property of Phyllis Clavering (Heather Angel). It also has her address.
Drummond follows up, and heads to Greystone Manor. Here he meets Norman Merridew (Porter Hall). Merridew is her guardian after the unfortunate demise of her brother in a hunting accident. She doesn’t believe it was an accident and believes that Merridew was behind it. She is now a prisoner in her own home. When Drummond comes calling, she secretly hides a message in the lining of his hat. After being assured by Merridew that everything is okay, Drummond leaves.

Back at Rockingham, Drummond finds the message. It says ‘Deliver the envelope immediately. Keep away from Greystone.’ Well, with a Bulldog Drummond involved, and a beautiful damsel to be rescued, you can rest assured the rest of the movie is going to provide a vigorous amount of noir style adventure. Bulldog Drummond Escapes is one of the finest episodes in the Paramount series, mainly due to the casting of Ray Milland as Drummond. Milland oozes rakish charm, and while this film is little more than a B-grade programmer it is great fun to watch.

To watch the film on the Internet Archive, click here.

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