Bulldog Drummond (1929): Ronald Colman Shines as Sleuth in Oscar-Nominated Performance; Joan Bennett Excellent Too

In Bulldog Drummond, a witty and polished romp, Ronald Colman, in a change-of-pace role, plays Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond, a man who offers his services as an adventurer for hire.

Bulldog Drummond
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movie poster

Colman shines in his first talkie, revealing a pleasant voice that would delight viewers for another three decades.

Drummond gets mixed up with Joan Bennett, whose wealthy father is being held against his will in a sanitarium. Drummond, his pal Algy (Claud Allister) and his faithful butler Danny (Wilson Benge) fall into the villain’s lair, occupied by the evil Dr. Lakington.

Drummond is overpowered by Lakington’s henchpersons (Lilyan Tashman and Montague Love).  Just when he is willing to accept his inevitable death, Lakington fondles the unconscious Bennett. Drummond escapes, and kills Lakington in cold blood.

He then becomes his old charming self and allows the villains Love and Tashman to escape. Drummond saves the millionaire and wins the girl.

 

Photo: Lilyan Tashman and Ronald Colman in Bulldog Drummond

Every subsequent “Bulldog Drummond” film would open with an interrupted wedding.

Shot in the early talkie era, “Bulldog Drummond” is quite sophisticated for its time, directed with assurance by former Mack Sennett associate F. Richard Jones, who died shortly after the film’s release.

Conforming to the dictate of  “all talking-all singing” it includes some Irish songs sung by tenor Donald Novis.

“Bullddog Drummond” holds up largely due to Colmán’s suave performance as the sleuth, sharply written script by Sidney Howard, and cinematography by the brilliant Gregg Toland and George Barnes.

The movie was so popular that it launched many sequels, with different actors, including Ray Milland,

Oscar Nominations: 2

Actor: Ronald Colman

Interior Decoration: William Cameron Menzies

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actor Oscar was another Brit, George Arliss, for “Disraeli.”

The Art Direction Oscar went to Herman Rosse for “King of Jazz.”

 

Credits

MGM

Directed by F. Richard Jones
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Herman C. McNeile (play), Sidney Howard (adaptation), Wallace Smith
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Cinematography George S. Barnes, Gregg Toland
Edited by Frank Lawrence, Viola Lawrence

Production company: Samuel Goldwyn Productions

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: May 2, 1929

Running time: 90 min.

DVD: June 24, 1992

Cast
Ronald Colman – Hugh Drummond
Claud Allister – Algy Longworth (as Claude Allister)
Lawrence Grant – Dr. Lakington
Montagu Love – Carl Peterson
Wilson Benge – Danny, Drummond’s valet
Joan Bennett – Phyllis Benton
Lilyan Tashman – Irma
Charles Sellon – John Travers
Tetsu Komai – Chong
Gertrude Short – Barmaid
Donald Novis – Country Boy