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Friday, October 17, 2014

Brit Sleuthing With Comic Chaser


Bulldog Jack Is 1935's Thrill and Laugh Mix

What if Bulldog Drummond fell sick and needed someone to pinch hit for him? That's the conceit of this comedy/thriller where funnyman Jack Hulbert assumes mantle of the dashing detective and cracks a jewel-robbing mob operating out of London's underground rail system. Action set there is profuse for an otherwise modest-managed Gaumont release, that company again trying to crack US markets as they had (and would) with Hitchcock suspensers. Stateside lead lady Fay Wray assists along those lines, as does fact we knew Drummond from times Ronald Colman played him over here. Hulbert was an acquired domestic taste, bitter to some perhaps as any import wine might be, but efficient once he stops bungling and gets down to straight crime-fight. Ralph Richardson underplays as the mastermind and never tries to upstage a florid Hulbert. UK humor was at that time a thing less accessible to us. It took Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers in the 50's to show how funny Brits could be. Variety reviewed Jack as Alias Bulldog Drummond, finding it "... fated for bookings of lesser importance on this side." MGM-UA owns Bulldog Jack now, having leased the pic to Netflix, Dish Network, and possibly elsewhere.

9 Comments:

Blogger aldi said...

"It took Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers in the 50's to show how funny Brits could be."

Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel might have disagreed with that! :)

12:21 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Good point. Guess I was thinking more about British humor in films from over there.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I don't think the Crazy Gang movies made it stateside, either.

2:18 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson remembers the British "Carry On" series:


Lately I've seen most of the "Carry On" films, a long series of Bs united by the same production team and varying configurations of a stock company of actors. Very broad, mildly lecherous and often given over to genre parodies, they are to Ealing comedies what Three Stooges are to Laurel and Hardy. And like the Stooges, they seem to enjoy a weird mix of affection and dismissal in their homeland.

Did they ever make any inroads here? I vaguely remember seeing newspaper ads for "Carry On Camping", a 1969 entry, and later stumbling across some mentions in a volume of NY Times reviews.

5:28 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

I do remember a "Carry On" film playing the Liberty with "Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors" in 1965, but that's the only one I recall showing up locally.

5:32 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

One of the "Carry On" gang tried his luck in Hollywood: Jim Dale played multiple roles in Disney 's western spoof "Hot Lead and Cold Feet," though his co-star Don Knotts was highlighted in all the ads.

Jack Hulbert certainly had a chin that could rival Jay Leno's.

8:20 PM  
Blogger coolcatdaddy said...

As for British comedians, let's not forget Bob Hope.

If I'm not mistaken, "Carry on Cleo" got some attention on this side of the pond. Released in 1964, it used sets and costumes originally made for Liz Taylor's "Cleopatra" before that production had to relocate to Rome.

12:24 PM  
Blogger b piper said...

Let's not forget that W.C. Fields was, if not born British, the son of Cockney immigrants. I love much British humor, from Shaw to Monty Python to The Goodies, but low comedy (as in The Crazy Gang or the Carry Ons) does not seem to be their forte. Give me the Stooges any day.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Love the Brit star comedies from the thirties and forties. Will Hay, the Crazy Gang and Arthur Askey are all over Pub-D-Hub. A lot of the fun for me is how alien many of the references are. You might see how far you make it through Askey's I THANK YOU, currently on Netflex streaming.

12:34 PM  

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