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Monday, July 11, 2016

Bulldog Drummond (1929)

A former Captain (Ronald Colman) in the British Army is bored and places an advertisement looking for excitement. He gets more than he bargained for when a damsel (Joan Bennett) in distress asks for his help in rescuing her uncle (Charles Sellon) from a sadistic doctor (Lawrence Grant) who is holding him against his will. Based on the popular stage play by Herman C. McNeile, Samuel Goldwyn produced this early pre-code talkie and also Colman's first sound movie. As cinema, it's very primitive. The acting is very broad and mostly stilted. Colman is hardly the first actor you think of when it comes to action movies and indeed his big fight scene is done in silhouette for obvious reasons. Bennett, still a blonde at this point in her career, is lovely but her acting would fortunately improve by leaps and bounds. Where the movie's interest lies is in the cinematography by George Barnes (WAR OF THE WORLDS) and Gregg Toland (CITIZEN KANE) who give a noir-ish shadow and light look to the proceedings and William Cameron Menzies' art and set direction which is very expressionistic. With Montagu Love, Lilyan Tashman and Claud Allister whose comic relief gets tiresome very quickly.  

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