Friday, July 9, 2010

Before There Was Bond




. . . there was another British action hero who went up against super villains and arch criminals and always managed to save the day.


His name was Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, Ret.  who – wealthy, and bored with retirement after WWI – became a bit of a soldier of fortune and detective.




The character was created in 1920 by British author Herman Cyril McNeile who wrote under the pseudonym `Sapper’. 


In all, `Bulldog’ would appear in 10 novels by McNeile (and a handful of short stories), and another 9 novels penned after his death in 1937 by Gerard Fairlie and later Henry Raymond.


Between 1923 and 1969 there were 25 Bulldog Drummond movies made, and from 1951 to 1954 Bulldog Drummond was portrayed on the radio by Ned Weaver for the  Mutual Broadcasting System.


McNiele first gained recognition for his war stories, published during and just after WWI.  You’ll find a number of his short stories and books available on The Internet Archive  at this link.


One of the early Bulldog Drummond novels The Black Gang, is there as well.


Fair Warning:  Books of this era often invoked racial stereotypes and by today’s standards portions would be considered racist or politically incorrect.


Moving on to the movies, we’ve a number available to watch or download from the Internet Archive.


Over the years more than a dozen actors played the role, including Ronald Coleman, Walter Pidgeon, Ralph Richardson, and Tom Conway. 


Best remembered, however, was John Howard who played the part in 7 of the mid-to-late 1930s movies.  The franchise was put on hold during WWII, when Howard enlisted.  


When the series was picked up again in 1947, the producers went with a different actor. 


A bit of bitter irony, as Howard was awarded both the US Navy Cross and the French Croix de Guerre for gallantry – yet he wasn’t seen as suitable to continue to play the hero in films.


While his Hollywood career may have faltered, Howard did manage to work steadily in Television for the next 30 years.


We’ve 9 of these 1930s entries, and one post-war effort with Ron Randell. 


You’ll find fiendish plots, ruthless assassins, spies, artificial diamonds, and even a death ray in these movies.   Ian Fleming openly admitted that parts of his Bond character were inspired by Drummond.


These are, of course, `B’ movies.   Low budget, played relatively `light’ for the most part. The `running gag’ in a lot of them is the last-minute interruption of Bulldog’s nuptials with his long-time fiancé Phyllis. 


All in all, though, they aren’t a bad way to spend an hour.



Bulldog Drummond at Bay – 1935 – John Lodge


Bulldog Drummond's Revenge – 1937 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond Comes Back – 1937 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond Escapes – 1937  - Ray Milland

Bulldog Drummond's Peril – 1938 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond in Africa – 1938 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police – 1938 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond's Bride -  1939 – John Howard


Arrest Bulldog Drummond -  1939 – John Howard


Bulldog Drummond at Bay – 1947  Ron Randell



And last, but not least, we’ve a selection of Bulldog Drummond radio episodes, also from the Internet Archive.


There are 20 episodes in this collection, which is located here.



Death Rides A Racehorse

Circus, The

Nazi Sub

Dinner Of Death

Help Wanted

Murder In The Death House

Escape Into Death

Claim Check Murders Aka Atomic Murders

Death in the Deep

Deadly Stand In, the

Penny Arcade Story

Death Rides a Racehorse

Bulldog Drummond xx-xx-xx (xxxx) Death Loops The Loop

Death Uses Disappearing Ink

Blindman's Bluff

Devil Flats [Endg Cut]

Fiery Island

Porcelain Ming Cat

Ride In The Moonlight

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