Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ronald Colman's Katie-Winning Performance In Bulldog Drummond Now Available On Hulu

The title of the post pretty much says it all, doesn't it. Ronald Colman was my choice for best actor of 1929-30 for his lead role in the mystery Bulldog Drummond. To review it for this blog, I had to buy the movie on VHS tape for 48¢, but you can see it now (with limited commercial interruption) on Hulu—or better yet, right here.

In case you've forgotten what I had to say on the subject, here are some excerpts from my essay:

The story, ostensibly a mystery, is mostly an excuse for some lighthearted fun. Capt. Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond—mustered out of the army at the end of World War I, and "too rich to work, too intelligent to play, much"—is bored with his aimless existence. "I wish somebody would throw a bomb and wake this place up," he grouses at the funereal gentleman's club where he passes his days. On a lark, he places an advertisement in the London Times seeking adventure. "Legitimate, if possible, but crime of humorous description, no objection. Reply at once." And replies he receives, piles of them.
...
For Colman, the result was a smash hit, an Oscar nomination and a long, successful career.
...
Bulldog Drummond is mostly a comedic mystery, the kind where the hero pauses to make a wisecrack in the face of certain death, but make no mistake, Drummond is as quick with a gun as he is with a quip and in a scene more reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino than early Hollywood, strangles one of his adversaries with his bare hands.

Admittedly, the eighty year old film creaks with the burdens of early sound technology and a supporting cast uncomfortable speaking lines for the first time, and it may be difficult to appreciate it looking backward through the prism of all that came after but without it, we may never have enjoyed all the fun-stupid movies it influenced and it was certainly highly-regarded in its day. In addition to a pair of Oscar nods, the New York Times, the National Board of Review and Film Daily magazine all included Bulldog Drummond on their lists of the ten best movies of 1929.

Anyway, judge for yourself. Without further ado, Ronald Colman in Bulldog Drummond:


6 comments:

Katie said...

I saw Ronald Coleman in "Random Harvest" last night (and the start of "Talk of the Town"). He could definitely bring it as the cultured, sophisticated guy with a warm heart.

thingy said...

Fun movie with a lot of underlying creepiness, such as the thug who had nasty ideas about Joan while she lay unconscious.

I find Bennet more interesting in that she managed to go with the times and change accordingly.

Lupner said...

Have to say I much prefer the ring of "Katie-winning" to "Oscar-winning" ...

'Random Harvest', what a classic. Agree that Ronald had the gift.

Mythical Monkey said...

I find Bennet more interesting in that she managed to go with the times and change accordingly.

I think the distance Joan Bennett covered as an actress between Bulldog Drummond in 1929 and Scarlet Street in 1945 is extraordinary, one of the greatest leaps in movie history. I foresee a certain Katie nomination for her that year, with stiff competition from Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce), Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter), Wendy Hiller (I Know Where I'm Going), Arletty (Children Of Paradise), Peggy Anne Garner (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn), Gene Tierney (Leave Her To Heaven) and Lauren Bacall (To Have And Have Not). What a great year for actresses -- except the years always used to be that way. We think of ourselves as more "evolved" now, more equal, but at least in terms of good roles for women in movies, the times haven't been changing for the better.

Mythical Monkey said...

Welcome back, lupner!

Have to say I much prefer the ring of "Katie-winning" to "Oscar-winning"

Ronald Colman said the same thing in his acceptance speech: "Oscar? Who wants something called Oscar on their mantlepiece? Sounds like a brand of baloney! Give me a Katie any day."

Lupner said...

Thank you, Mister Monk, it is lovely to be back. Hope to be keeping up more consistently in the future . . .

Ronald's acceptance speech just underscores the truth of his rep as a classy fellow who knows What's What!