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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)

A ruthless and seemingly highly coordinated gang of robbers in very cool masks is succeeding in their business all over London. Three times they've struck and three times they've succeeded. Every little detail is accounted for with the greatest of care and so Scotland Yard have almost nothing to go on. To take a stab at the 'almost' part of it, they call on Captain Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond to go undercover, even though he's been happily retired for some years to focus on breeding pigs.

In fact he's been retired so long that he's no longer the familiar John Howard who played Drummond seven times, including in three out of the four I've seen thus far. This time out he's Walter Pidgeon who only got one shot at the role. He teams up with Margaret Leighton as a undercover policewoman called Sgt Helen Smith, very able but still a woman, which the highly sexist Drummond can't help but focus on.

There's a lot of thought put into the story, the machinations and counter-machinations, and I was highly impressed, but there are still points at which I couldn't help but throw my hands up in the air in exasperation. For instance Drummond leaves various things in his apartment to reinforce the fact that he's really Joe Crandall, and it works. The bad guys break in and check, which is all very well, but then he shouts out that it worked, gleefully ignoring any surveillance of the apartment or even that a bad guy might still be there.

That's but one example of a few, and really if you're going to go into such admirable detail you may as well be a little more consistent.

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