Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)
When an outfit run with military like finesse and precision hits the London underworld the police are baffled as to how to crack the case so they turn to the retired Bulldog Drummond to go deep undercover and infiltrate the gang of thieves.
The film opens with a heist being run by a group of ex-soldiers who are overseen by an unknown mastermind. Before long we are treated to an engaging Walter Pidgeon in the title role of the famed adventurer turned sleuth. With an unexpected partner played by Margaret Leighton who matches Pidgeon quite nicely the two find themselves embroiled in the underworld.
Gang leader Robert Beatty believes the two are a couple on the run and has no use for Pidgeon but easily becomes smitten with attractive Leighton. Miss Leighton is really superb here going back and forth in character. At first she must prove to Walter that she is tough enough to play this game for keeps and at the same time smart enough to outwit her prey. Secondly she flips personalities perfectly when Beatty walks in the room and she becomes a tough talking dame born to the gutter. Really a lot of fun!
In order to convince Beatty the two of them are for real a murder is staged for his benefit where Pidgeon “offs” a couple of coppers. The ruse works and their infiltration of the gang is complete. Things are going smoothly till one of Walter’s old regiment pals recognizes him and salutes. The next problem is when the mysterious mastermind has a look at his new man from afar and quickly realizes that the police are on to them. It’s time to put an end to the operation and do away with our undercover couple.
Now it’s a matter of whether or not Pidgeon and Leighton can outwit their captors and save the day for jolly old England.
I always seem to associate Walter with playing suit and tie roles or the non action oriented type of character so I was quite surprised that he did well in portraying a man of action in this latter day Drummond effort. It’s a little bit removed from the John Howard films of the late thirties where he seems to be getting into mysteries every time he’s about to take his wedding vows.
Directed by Victor Saville in black and white for MGM it’s all a rather fun 80 minutes that fizzles out a bit towards the end but is well worth catching for the spirited Leighton. Turning up as well in the proceedings is David Tomlinson as Drummond’s pal Algy and we also have the well known Bernard Lee mixed into the proceedings adding that little extra bit of professionalism. .
I caught this one on TCM if you might be looking to catch it and complete the Bulldog Drummond collection.