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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blogging the Hulu Plus Criterion Collection: Arrest Bulldog Drummond

Arrest Bulldog Drummond

And we're at another series. This one from Britain and later Paramount. Arrest Bulldog Drummond is one of the middle adventures in the series. It centers around Drummond, a wealthy World War I veteran who takes on the enemies of Britain with the help of his manservant Tenny and his friend Algy.

I was a little surprised to see the Bulldog Drummond series in the Criterion Collection. Unlike Zatoichi this series doesn't have the same level of craft. Zatoichi may be a programmer but it was always a gorgeous programmer. The Drummond series, especially this entry is a B picture through and through. It clocks in at under an hour in length and it's clear the studio didn't put a lot of money into it.

On a previous review I mentioned a show called Matinee at the Bijou, a PBS series that recreated the old movie going experience of the 1930s, somewhat similar to what TV Land does when they recreate blocks of TV from a '70s or '80s complete with commercials. Matinee would recreate the experience of going to the theater and catching a cartoon, a short subject, a B movie and a main feature. The B movies were a lot like Arrest Bulldog Drummond, short, cheap and full of energy. In many ways these B movies were the forerunners of the hour long TV series.

The story concerns enemy agents who have stolen a ray gun that can cause explosives and ammunition to spontaneously combust. This isn't as far fetched as some of the other devices of the time period. Microwaves make it almost feasible. Even for a 56 minute long movie there's a lot of padding, much of it having to do with some cheap laughs at the expense of Tenny and Algy or some romance concerning Drummon's long suffering girlfriend Phyllis. Most of the budget and fight scenes are saved for the very end. The finale is exciting. Tenny and Algy are suspended above a slime pit while the bad guys prepare to blow up Bulldog in a lighthouse full of explosive. It has a good comic book feel to it. That's because Bulldog Drummond and his pulp fiction ilk eventually became the comic book heroes like Batman. The only difference was Batman wears a cape and mask and he's still a viable movie property. The reason is Bulldog's world was every bit as fanciful as Batman's. But with Batman the creators were able to embrace the fantasy and turn it into a strength.

I should also mention that the Drummond series, especially the original pulp novels, are notorious for being anti-foreigner and antisemitic. Fortunately This entry is mostly free of such sentiments.

Overall it was a fun experience. The ending had some excitement and even some of the humor was funny. I can only recommend it for people who are truly interested in 1930s B pictures. The Zatoichi series I can recommend as movies. This one is more of a historical curiosity.

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