Bulldog Drummond’s Secret Police (1939)

Country: USA
Director: James Hogan
Starring: John Howard, Heather Angel, H.B. Warner, J. Carrol Naish, Reginald Denny, Leo G. Carroll, Elizabeth Patterson, E.E. Clive
Based on the book, ‘Temple Tower’ by Sapper

This Bulldog Drummond adventure picks up almost where Bulldog Drummond in Africa left off. Drummond (John Howard) and his fiancée, Phyllis Clavering (Heather Angel) still haven’t tied the knot. But this time it looks like it may actually happen. They are due to be married in twenty hours. All the usual crew, Algy (Reginald Denny), Tenny (E.E. Clive), and Colonel Nielson of Scotland Yard (H.B. Warner) have gathered at Rockingham Lodge for the ceremony.

The preparations are interrupted when absent minded Professor Downie (Forrester Harvey) arrives at the door. He brings with him a diary belonging to Colonel Cooper who hid a great treasure, belonging to Charles I in Rockingham Tower, in a series of secret passages and hidden chambers. Drummond, for the sake of his pending marriage chooses not to go on a treasure hunt, and leaves the Professor to his own devices as a guest. All this changes when the diary is stolen and the Professor murdered.

The ‘secret police’ of the title aren’t that secret, or at all interesting. They are a couple of ‘bobbies’ assigned to patrol Rockingham Lodge’s grounds after the death of the Professor.

The first forty minutes of this production (it runs under an hour) are pretty slow. The only real action sequence is in fact a flashback dream sequence which shows highlights from previous Drummond movies. But once the characters move into the hidden tunnels and the treasure hunt begins in earnest the film becomes what it should be – a good old fashioned cliff hanger adventure. In the catacombs under the tower we are even treated to that time honoured classic of the adventure film – a room with a spiked ceiling, which lowers down to impale and crush our heroes trapped inside. It’s good fun, but has taken too long to start.

This Drummond adventure, if you are patient and a fan of the Drummond films may be worth seeking out. But generally I think most viewers can give this entry a miss.

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