Watching 1939: Bulldog Drummond’s Bride (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film: 
Bulldog Drummond’s Bride (1939)

Release date: 
July 12, 1939

Cast: 
John Howard, Heather Angel, H.B. Warner, Reginald Denny, E. E. Clive, Elizabeth Patterson, Eduardo Ciannelli, John Sutton

Studio: 
Paramount Studios

Director: 
James P. Hogan

Plot:
On the eve of the wedding of Capt. Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond to Phyllis Clavering (Angel), there is a bank robbery in London involving an explosion. Drummond irritates Colonel Nielson (Warner) and Inspector Tredennis (John Sutton) by trying to solve the case. Unbeknownst to Drummond and Phyllis, the robber hid the money in a radio in Drummond’s new flat. Phyllis takes the radio with her to her aunt’s (Patterson) in a small French village. Drummond follows Phyllis and the radio to solve the case and tie the knot.

1939 Notes:
• One of two Bulldog Drummond films released in 1939. The other is “Bulldog Drummond and the Secret Police.”
By the numbers:
• John Howard was in five films released in 1939, and he performed as Bulldog Drummond in two of the films.
• Heather Angel was in three films released in 1939; two of which she performed as Phyllis Clavering in Bulldog Drummond films.
• Reginald Denny was in three films released in 1939. He performed as Algy Longworth in two films in Bulldog Drummond films.
• E. E. Clive was in 12 films released in 1939.
• H.B. Warner was in seven films released in 1939.
• Elizabeth Patterson was in six films released in 1939.
• John Sutton was in seven films released in 1939.

Scene from “Bulldog Drummond’s Bride”

Other trivia: 
• Based on the story “Bulldog Drummond and the Oriental Mind” by H.C. McNeile.
• Working title was “Mr. and Mrs. Bulldog Drummond”
• The last Bulldog Drummond film to be produced by Paramount.
• The French village scenes were filmed on the sets of “If I Were King,” according to “Movie Mystery & Suspense” by John Howard Reid.

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
Since 1922, H.C. McNeile’s fictional character of the dashing detective Bulldog Drummond was represented on screen.

From Ronald Colman to Ralph Richardson to Ray Milland, several English leading men played the adventurous amateur sleuth.

Out of the 25 Drummond films made between 1922 to 1969, Ohio-born John Howard played Drummond in 6 films between 1937 and 1939, and this was the last time Howard played the character.

It was also the last time Paramount produced a Bulldog Drummond film. (Drummond was back on screen in 1940, but with another leading man)

Unfortunately, this last phase of Drummond isn’t the best.

The film starts off promising, showing Drummond finally wedding his long-time girlfriend Phyllis. But of course, a crime happens which distracts him from the nuptials.

What could have been fun and energetic ends up being irritating and ridiculous.

Drummond meets his bride in a small French village, where he is mistakenly arrested (thanks to a joke by Scotland Yard). Locked up with a criminal who took part in the bank robbery Drummond has been tracking, he finds out about bombs planted around to help make thefts successful.

As soon as Drummond is released from jail, Phyllis’s family, Scotland Yard and the village’s mayor chase Drummond around to make sure he gets married. Meanwhile, Drummond is trying his best to catch the criminals that no one cares about – it only matters to the police that he’s married. So Drummond chases the criminals, is chased by the bridal party, and bombs are going off around the whole group.

They couldn’t have allowed him to finish this business before the wedding?

John Howard is handsome and dashing and an adequate Bulldog Drummond. Heather Angel is sweet and delicate but plays a thankless role. The real disappointment is that we don’t see enough of character actress Elizabeth Patterson, who always steals the show.

This movie is a bit disappointing, but thankfully, this movie is a brisk 57 minutes.

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